In what may seem like a rapidly evolving and progressively more interconnected world characterised by cutting-edge technologies, demographic shifts and political transformations with social and economic consequences, there may seem to be a need for the international community to join forces and find innovative mechanisms to navigate the future.
The annual World Economic Forum(WEF) held in Davos-Klosters, Switzerland, is one of the platforms enabling world leaders and influencers to engage in collaborative activities meant to shape the global and regional policies at the beginning of each year and to offer practical, balanced and sustainable solutions to universal questions. For over four decades, the WEF in Davos has been gathering individuals from all continents trying to bring forth economic and political opportunities for the world.
The 2017 WEF forum is scheduled to take place between 17th – 20th January under the theme “Responsive and Responsible Leadership”. This year’s conference is structured on four pillars: strengthening global collaboration, revitalising economic growth, reforming capitalism and preparing for a Fourth Industrial Revolution, which is propelled by digital innovations. A number of sessions included in the programme focus on social inclusion, development and social entrepreneurship, while the initiative “Shaping Davos” aims to connect leaders with young individuals from 20 cities around the world to address opportunities for the millennial generation. The agenda also includes discussions on strengthening democracy, the future of Arab economies, cyber security, China’s role in creating global prosperity, the European Union as a global player and a special address by Theresa May. The 23rd Annual Crystal Awards ceremony, honouring artists who made important contributions to improving the state of the world is also on the agenda.
This year’s forum may also present an opportunity for global leaders to find solutions for bridging the universal wealth gap. Based on a report released by Oxfam on January 16th, 2017, the richest 8 individuals in the world own as much as the ground-level half.
In addition to government delegations from over 70 countries, including all G20 nations, this year’s attendee list also aims to include a number of entrepreneurs, politicians, selected intellectuals, civil society and spiritual leaders, such as Antonio Guterres, the new Secretary-General of the United Nations, president Xi Jinping of China, scientists such as Fabiola Gianotti, cultural leaders such as Negin Khpalwak – Afganistan’s first female orchestra conductor, singer Shakira, humanitarians such as Raed al Saleh, the founder of Syria’s White Helmets volunteer rescue group, Klaus Schwab, founder and executive chairman, Sunil Bharti Mittal, Matt Damon, Satya Nadella, John F. Kerry, Haifaa Al Mansour, Prince Turki Al Faisal Al Saud, Fareed Zakaria, Vitaliy Klitschko, Sheryl Sandberg, Arianna Huffington, Jamie Oliver, Pierre Moscovici, Christine Lagarde, Christiana Figueres, Jack Ma, Juan Manuel Santos (the president of Colombia), Theresa May (the UK’s Prime Minister), King Abdullah II of Jordan, Sergey Brin, Bill Gates, Federica Mogherini, Phillip Hammond, etc.
The annual forum in Davos is meant to facilitate the gathering of influential individuals with power to make a difference in the world and it also sets the tone for a year-long calendar of regional meetings, projects and initiatives targeting significant topics such as climate change, business initiatives and peace talks.
Some past achievements of the Davos forums are the signing of a peace agreement between Greece and Turkey in 1988, the 1992 meeting between a recently liberated (at the time) Nelson Mandela and the South African president FW de Klerk – a key moment at the end of the apartheid era, the 2000 launch of GAVI – a global alliance to vaccinate children in the underprivileged parts of the world.
The present global socio-economic and political circumstances, which showcase an evolving world and a potential shift in the balance of power, pave the path for a higher involvement of the international community in redefining traditional concepts of society, wealth distribution, meaningful employment, and address new opportunities with sustained, action-oriented thinking and solidarity at a national and international level.
How may the World Economic Forum in Davos respond to the opportunities of 2017?