GENEVA - More than 3,200 government, business, academics and civil society leaders will address issues of globalization, climate change and other matters of world importance next week at the annual World Economic Forum in the plush Swiss Alpine village of Davos.
The list of participants reads like the Who’s Who of the most powerful, successful and inventive movers and shakers in the world. They will be rubbing shoulders during hundreds of formal sessions and workshops, as well as in private bilaterals on the sidelines of the meeting. They will discuss and seek solutions to some of humanity’s most vexing problems.
The theme of this year’s gathering is Globalization "4.0: Shaping a Global Architecture in the Age of the Fourth Industrial Revolution.” That refers to the emerging technology breakthroughs in such fields as artificial intelligence and robotics.
Founder and executive chairman of the World Economic Forum Klaus Schwab says this fourth wave of globalization needs to be human-centered. He says globalization in its present form is not sustainable. He says globalization must be made more inclusive.
“Globalization produced winners and losers, and so there were many more winners in the last 24, 25, 30 years. But now we have to look after the losers — after those who have been left behind...what we need is a moralization, or re-moralization, of globalization,” he said.
The program is very wide-ranging. For example, U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres will discuss the state of the world. He will broach issues like climate change, fighting poverty and sustainable development. There will be special sessions by others about ways to make economic growth more inclusive, on rethinking world trade, as well as many scientific, artistic and cultural meetings.
Leaders from all regions of the world will attend. The Middle East will be represented by the presidents of Libya and Iraq. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will be there. So will Palestinian Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas.
Six or seven presidents from Africa will be in attendance. And organizers of the forum say there is great interest in an appearance by the new Ethiopian prime minister, Abiy Ahmed, who has established peace with Eritrea during his first six months in office.
The forum president, Borge Brende, says a strong United States delegation will attend next week’s event, although President Donald Trump canceled his participation.
“We fully understand that, of course, President Trump will have to stay in D.C. as long as the government is facing this shutdown. We are very pleased, though, that the U.S. will be participating with key secretaries,” he said.
Brende confirms that among those coming will be Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, fresh from his travels in the Middle East, Secretary of the Treasury Steve Mnuchin, and Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross.