World Economic Forum 2022: Key Takeaways for India-Bound Investors

Posted by Written by Naina Bhardwaj Reading Time: 5 minutes

We discuss India’s record participation at the World Economic Forum 2022 and key outcomes impacting businesses and clean energy industry stakeholders. Foreign investors should note India sent representation from five states – Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, and Maharashtra – each pitching the attractiveness of their respective investment destinations. The article also notes some of the major deals closed in these states, including investments worth over US$542 million for Telangana and deals with reportedly more than 10 companies for Tamil Nadu.

The 2022 World Economic Forum (WEF) Annual Meeting took place from May 22 to 26 and for the first time at Davos (Switzerland) after two years of virtual engagement due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This year’s theme was ‘History at a Turning Point: Government Policies and Business Strategies’. Attended by global leaders from politics, business, civil society, and academia, Davos 2022 was held against the backdrop of the Russia-Ukraine conflict, record-high inflation levels, global supply chain strains, climate events, and continued pandemic lockdowns in some parts of the world. We discuss India’s participation at the Forum and key outcomes impacting businesses and industry stakeholders.

India sends record delegation to World Economic Forum 2022

While attendance from countries like China, Japan, and South Korea was sparse, India found itself at the center of many dialogues on emerging issues, ranging from climate change, clean energy transition, food security, health equity, and crypto technologies etc. A record delegation of over 100 leaders, including CEOs, unicorn founders, and political leaders, attended the WEF Annual Meeting 2022, putting the spotlight on India’s growth outlook, its ambitious plans for clean solutions, and technological advancements.

Participation of federal government ministers and representation from five states (Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, and Maharashtra) sought to position India as an attractive investment destination and a rapidly growing market. Major Indian market players, including Gautam Adani (Chairman, Adani Group), Sunil Bharti Mittal (Chairman, Bharti Enterprises), Shobana Kamineni (Executive Vice-Chairperson, Apollo Hospitals Enterprise), and Kumar M. Birla (Group Chairman, Aditya Birla Group) were present in-person, spoke extensively about the global economic scenario, and pitched India’s readiness to be the world’s business center.

Most leaders agreed on the necessity for exploring alternate supply chains, given the recent pandemic-led disruptions.

Below are some key highlights for investors looking at the Indian market at WEF 2022.

Indian CEO Alliance

On May 23, 2022, the WEF announced a new “Alliance of CEO Climate Action Leaders India” that will work towards fast-tracking decarbonization pathways during India’s net-zero journey. The Alliance brings together chief executives from India’s leading businesses. It is part of the Forum’s Climate Action Platform and will build upon learnings from global projects, such as the Alliance of CEO Climate Leaders and the First Movers Coalition.

India has pledged to achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2070 at the COP26, Glasgow (2021).

Sumant Sinha, Co-Chair, Alliance of CEO Climate Action Leaders India, and Chairman and CEO, ReNew Power, stated: “As a major global economy, India’s role in mitigating climate change is critical, and India Inc. must add its full weight to the country’s efforts, as well to the global endeavor, against global warming”.

India joins First Movers Coalition

India also joined the First Movers Coalition, a US- and WEF-led global initiative aimed at decarbonizing the heavy industry and long-distance transport sectors responsible for 30 percent of global emissions. This public-private partnership also sees participation from Denmark, Italy, Japan, Norway, Singapore, Sweden, and the UK. Additionally, 50 new corporate members with collective market cap of US$8.5 trillion have also joined the initiative.

India leading transition to green energy

The ongoing Russia-Ukraine conflict has exacerbated supply chain stress and pushed up already high global oil prices. More than ever, discussions around exploring alternate supply chains have hastened and a transition to cleaner and sustainable sources are increasingly being viewed as necessary and more cost effective in the medium to long term. International oil prices touched a near 14-year high of US$140 a barrel in March, and have fueled domestic inflation and dampened economic recovery in most parts of the world.

Citing the unsustainability of such high fuel prices, Hardeep Singh Puri, the Indian Minister of Petroleum and Natural Gas of India, stated that the aim of a 20 percent ethanol blend has been pushed ahead from 2030 to 2025; green hydrogen, biofuel discovery, and the production from alternate sources is now being prioritized. Puri also stated that 20 percent blended fuel will become available in Indian petrol bunks by April 1, 2023.

Investment deals across Indian states

The following states attracted major investment in the clean energy sector:

  • Andhra Pradesh: The Andhra Pradesh state government signed renewables investment pacts worth around US$16 billion with three companies at Davos, including Adani Green Energy, Greenko – Singapore’s GIC sovereign wealth fund, and Aurobindo Realty and Infrastructure. The Andhra state government plans to invest in green energy projects, including a 3,700-megawatt pumped hydro storage project and a 10,000-megawatt solar power plant, following an agreement with Adani. Greenko and Aurobindo, have agreed to set up hydro, solar, and wind power plants in the state.
  • Maharashtra: Renew Power Private Limited inked a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Maharashtra State Electricity Distribution Company Limited (MSEDCL) for investments worth US$6.45 billion in the renewable energy industry. This investment will be disbursed over the seven-year period, employing over 30,000 people. Under the arrangement, Renew Power will provide 200 MW of power to the state, using solar, wind, hybrid, battery storage, hydrogen, and other technologies.
  • Karnataka: Renew Power has also signed a US$6.45 billion MoU with Karnataka state government, over a seven-year period. The company intends to invest in renewable energy, battery storage, and green hydrogen units in the state.

Other states including Telangana and Tamil Nadu also closed various investment deals at Davos, 2022.

  • Telangana: Despite the competition from other Indian states, besides other countries, Telangana state of India managed to attract investments worth over US$542 million across sectors, including mobility, pharma, life sciences and BFSI (banking, financial services and insurance). Hyundai Global announced plans to invest US$180.57 million for setting up proving grounds (testing tracks) as it prepares to be part of the Telangana Mobility Valley. Ferring Pharma, headquartered in Switzerland, will establish another formulation unit in Hyderabad, investing US$64.49 million.
  • Tamil Nadu: While the value is yet to be known, reports suggest that Tamil Nadu attracted investments from over 10 companies in areas including manufacturing, as well as emerging technologies like Fintech and data centers.

Fresh investments worth US$15 million to tackle freshwater crisis

With record-breaking heatwaves and droughts affecting India, discussions around water security took a fruitful shape. HCL announced a partnership with UpLink, the open innovation platform of the World Economic Forum that connects highly promising start-ups with the partners and funding they need to scale. Through a US$15 million investment over five years, HCL intends to fast-track the innovation agenda for water and create a first-of-its-kind innovation ecosystem for the global freshwater sector on UpLink.

Maharashtra joins WEF initiative against plastic pollution

The Indian state of Maharashtra joined the WEF’s Global Plastic Action Partnership (GPAP) to advance regional efforts to fight plastic pollution. Maharashtra positioned itself as a leader nationally in India in the fight against plastic waste pollution, with an aim to fulfil its commitment of curbing plastic pollution, ensure inclusivity throughout the value chain.

This partnership, which brings together bring together Maharashtra’s leading policymakers, business leaders, civil society organizations, and experts, will enable the state to leverage the GPAP platform to drive localized solutions for the circular economy.

Consensus on Metaverse definition and India’s stance

Research suggests that the metaverse is expected to grow into an $800 billion market by 2024. Despite it being a new concept, industry leaders have embraced it and are exploring the Metaverse further. CP Gurnani, the Managing Director and CEO at Tech Mahindra, highlighted Tech Mahindra’s efforts in imparting a rural education program in the metaverse, along with its other applications in retail commerce, sports training etc.

On May 25, 2022, the WEF announced a new initiative, “Defining and Building the Metaverse”, which brings together key stakeholders to build an economically viable, interoperable, safe, and inclusive metaverse.

Additionally, the Forum’s Technology Pioneers community also added five Indian tech firms in recognition of their focus on solving some of the world’s most pressing issues. The list includes Recykal, Asia’s first circular economy marketplace, and SmartCoin Financials, driving a tech-driven financial inclusion platform to empower the underserved.

Further, the WEF is also building a “Global Collaboration Village” as the virtual future of public-private cooperation, in collaboration with Accenture and Microsoft.

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