GP Insights

GP Insights # 229, 25 January 2020

World Economic Forum: The 50th meeting at Davos
Rashmi Ramesh

What happened?

The 50th meeting of the World Economic Forum was held in Davos, Switzerland during 21-24 February, with “Stakeholders for a Cohesive and Sustainable World” as the primary theme. 

Climate change, sustainable development and the role of business in tackling these issues, are the main agenda for the forum. Around 3000 participants representing 120 countries, and heads of governments of more than 50 countries took part. Alongside, key business leaders and CEOs of important business undertakings took part in the summit. 

Important issues such as the Coronavirus, Europe’s Green Deal, digital economy and its taxation methods, gender parity and social mobility, technological development were discussed. 

What is the background?

The World Economic Forum established in 1971, is an international organization, bringing together the members of the industry and governments. There is an emphasis on the fourth industrial revolution, issues concerning the global commons and global security matters. The strategy is to achieve an amalgamation of all the three focus areas, to usher positive growth. 

The previous three forums had themes revolving around ‘Responsive and responsible leadership’ (2017), ‘Creating a shared future in a fractured world’ (2018) and ‘Globalization 4.0: shaping a global architecture in the age of the fourth industrial revolution’ (2019). 

What does it mean?

First, the Forum was all-encompassing, discussing and deliberating upon almost all the crucial issues faced by the world today, apart from those concerning core economics and commerce. Young voices including Greta Thunberg have cornered the governments and industries over inaction on climate change. 

Second, WEF, on the similar lines of other international forums in recent years, emphasized on climate change and sustainable development. Professor Klaus Schwab, the founder and Executive Chairman of WEF remarked that it was the responsibility of the industries and business houses to adhere to the concept of “stakeholder capitalism”, where profit-making is not the only motive, but responding to the interests of the society is an important factor. 

Third, responsibility seems to be the main underlying theme of the meeting- whether it is the launch of the ‘Sustainable Markets Initiative and Council in collaboration with the World Economic Forum’ which helps in finding mechanisms to reduce carbon emissions; or the new internet security principles to protect one billion internet users against cybercrime. The Davos manifesto released on this occasion focused on fairer tax regimes, human rights, reducing corruption and fair competition among in the business community, reiterating the principle of responsibility. 

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