50th Edition of World Economic Forum

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Hadi Bandial

Amid global upheavals such as the escalation in northwestern Idlib city of Syria, the ongoing civil war in Libya and a U.S.-Iran crisis, the World Economic Forum’s (WEF) annual gathering has begun in Davos, Switzerland.  In a pre event report, WEF said that global inequality was going to worsen unless governments do more to ensure those most affected by rapid technological change aren’t just cast aside and forgotten.

As it prepares for its annual Davos gathering of leaders from the worlds of business, politics and finance, the WEF said it’s time to change the fact that a person’s lot in life is still largely determined by their socio-economic status at birth. The result, it said, is that societies too often reproduce rather than reduce historic inequalities.

In its Social Mobility Report, the WEF said Europe scores well, particularly Nordic countries. Japan came in at 15th place, Singapore at 20th and the US down at 27th. But it said problems are widespread and most countries underperform on three key metrics – low wages, lack of social protection and poor lifelong learning systems.

About 3,000 people, of whom 24% are women, from 117 countries, have gathered in ski town of the Swiss Alps for the 50th anniversary of the WEF. US President Donald Trump and German Chancellor Angela Merkel are among 53 heads of state or government who will be attending the forum.

With a focus on reshaping capitalism, this year’s Davos Summit themed Stakeholders for a Cohesive and Sustainable World will deliberate on making the world a better place, protect the planet from climate change, and especially establish bridges to resolve conflicts in global hotspots.  The four-day annual gathering will be held under the shadow of the Fourth Industrial Revolution and its ensuing huge transformations in the global economy, from the rise of China and the big tech sector to worsening income inequality and the emergence of ethical companies.

Welcoming participants to the 50th Annual Meeting of the World Economic Forum, its founder and executive chairman Klaus Schwab on Monday said he is proud to have created a community of some great people, including young leaders, through this platform. I wish to extend a very cordial welcome to the annual meeting 2020, he said officially opening the annual congregation of rich and powerful from across the world.

We are celebrating our 50th anniversary and people are asking me what my most proud moments are. I am most proud of the community that we have built, of you, of politicians who come. We are thankful of all governments, of our partners and members, the civil society and of cultural leaders. Also, I want to mention our young leaders, Schwab said. Schwab recalled that in 1970, he wrote a book on stakeholder theory, disagreeing with Milton Friedman’s notion that “the business of business is business. This idea formed the basis of the Forum’s approach that endures today, he said.

At the event, Ursula von der Leyen, the new President of the EU Commission, said Dear Klaus, for 50 years you have brought together the brightest people of our times, and for 50 years your thinking has always been ahead of times. You have always had a vision for how to shape a better future, for Europe and the world. The awards are given to cultural leaders, who are improving the state of the world through their contributions to inclusive and sustainable change. The award celebrates the achievements of artists and cultural figures whose leadership inspires inclusive and sustainable change.

Among those who are attending at this year’s summit is Trump with a large delegation including his daughter Ivanka and her husband Jared Kushner.  Struggling with impeachment charges against him, Trump will give the first keynote speech on the first day of the meeting. Special addresses are expected to be given by Merkel, Iraq’s President Barham Salih, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.

Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan was invited to this year’s meeting but he will not be attending it, as he once pledged I will never come to Davos again after a historic debate on Gaza with then Israeli president Shimon Peres during a session in 2009’s forum.

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