Amid jitters over a possible war in Iraq, the World Economic Forum has launched global initiatives on health and good governance.
More than 2,300 people including many senior government leaders gathered at the Swiss ski resort of Davos for the past six days. They discussed pressing economic and political challenges facing the world. Concerns about a possible war against Iraq dominated many discussions.
Despite the uncertainty posed by war, terrorism, and economic insecurity, Conference organizer Klaus Schwab said the leading politicians, business people, and activists who came to Davos demonstrated a will to find solutions to the world's problems.
Participants like Narayana Murthy, who heads India's second-largest information technology company, say the Davos Forum was successful in bringing together a diverse group of leaders to present a variety of views. "This conference brought to bear a very high degree of dissonance between the American concerns and other countries," he said. "I think the very fact that such a dissonance exists is revelation that is going to help people plan the future better."
Another conference participant, Ines Sangeuinetti, works for social change in Argentina through non-governmental organization. She said she would like to see more of the political and financial power of Davos harnessed for practical projects to help the poor. "So I would challenge this congress next year to do this kind of thing, shifting from words to action," she said, "to see what happens." Although there were a lot of words at Davos, there was also some action.
During the Forum, Microsoft's head Bill Gates announced a $200 million grant to identify critical scientific challenges in global health and to increase research on diseases that cause millions of deaths in the developing world.
And the U.S.-based Pharmacia Corporation said it would grant non-exclusive licenses for an HIV/AIDS medicine to generic drug makers to supply the world's poorest countries.