The “New Global Context” is the theme of the 45th annual meeting of the World Economic Forum (WEF) beginning from Wednesday 21 to Sunday 24 January.
Over 40 heads of state and government, as well as 2,500 other leaders from business and society will convene in Davos, Switzerland, to deliberate on cross-cutting global issues including geopolitics, monetary policy, governance and trust, technology, climate change, youth unemployment, social values and so on.
BusinessDay Editor, Phillip Isakpa, will be attending this year’s meeting to participate as a media leader. Isakpa’s attendance is on the invitation of WEF in recognition of editorship and leadership of Nigeria’s most influential and respected financial and business newspaper.
According to a public statement by WEF on its website, the world is “confronted by profound political, economic, social and technological transformations” which are invariably altering long-standing assumptions and resulting in an entirely “new global context” for the future.
The meeting will adopt a multi-stakeholder approach to discussing issues bordering on four key issues. These are Crisis and Cooperation; Growth and Stability; Innovation and Industry; and Society and Security.
The Annual Meeting will be co-chaired by Hari S. Bhartia, co-chairman and Founder, Jubilant Bhartia Group, India; Winnie Byanyima, executive director, Oxfam International, United Kingdom; Katherine Garrett-Cox, chief executive officer and chief investment officer, Alliance Trust, United Kingdom; Young Global Leader Alumnus; Jim Yong Kim, president, The World Bank, Washington DC; Eric Schmidt, executive chairman, Google, USA; and Roberto Egydio Setubal, chief executive officer and vice-chairman of the board of directors, ItaúUnibanco, Brazil.
Recall that at the 2014 annual meeting, Nigerian business mogul Aliko Dangote was one of the seven co-chairs who led discussions at the event. Nigeria went on to host the regional World Economic Forum on Africa (WEFA) for the first time ever in May 2014.
Among the key political leaders scheduled to attend this year’s meeting are Ahmet Davutoğlu, Prime Minister of Turkey, Béji Caïd Essebsi, President of Tunisia, François Hollande, President of France, Li Keqiang, Prime Minister of the People’s Republic of China, Angela Merkel, Federal Chancellor of Germany, John Kerry, US Secretary of State, Muhammad Nawaz Sharif, Prime Minister of Pakistan, Matteo Renzi, Prime Minister of Italy, Simonetta Sommaruga, President of the Swiss Confederation, and Jacob Zuma, President of South Africa.
Despite the gathering of global political and business elite to discuss how to “improve the state of the world”, going by the WEF mission statement, the annual meeting is also frequently criticised for its closed-door approach to organising the meeting.
“The World Economic Forum serves the international community as a platform for public-private cooperation,” says Klaus Schwab, Founder and Executive Chairman of the World Economic Forum.
“Such cooperation, to address the challenges we all face, is more vital than ever before. But it requires mutual trust. My hope is that the Annual Meeting serves as the starting point for a renaissance of global trust.”