They came, they saw the glistening glaciers, hogged on the caviar (a bit less due to the downturn) and took the cold home.
The elite visitors felt the heat and it was not climate change this time. It was a contrast from a year ago, when participants in the World Economic Forum were basking in a steady economic expansion and a private equity and takeover boom fuelled by cheap credit.
The World Economic Forum`s Annual Meeting in Davos brought together a highly influential group of leaders to discuss collaborative approaches to addressing sustainable agriculture in a world where food stocks are diminishing. Josette Sheeran, World Food Programme Executive Director, Robert Zoellick, President of the World Bank, Ban Ki-moon, UN Secretary General and Peter Bakker, CEO of TNT exchanged views on the impact of food commodity price increases and how these affect the World Food Programme`s work assisting the world`s hungry.
The agenda was a follow-up of the last. While 2008’s agenda or theme of the conference was ‘The Power of Collaborative Innovation’, in 2007 it was- ‘The Shifting Power Equation’. While the economic clout of the world takes an eastward turn, the West doesn’t seem to be happy about it and talks about collaboration.
The discussions focused around the impending crisis that was emerging from America. Its sub-prime and credit crises losses were taking the developed economies down a spiral- and some hi-fi folks in the mountains had an inkling of it. But they couldn’t do much- for that is the central flaw of WEF- its just a discussion, not an agenda driven action group.
As in the past, it will also provide a platform for the head of the G8 rich countries, this year chaired by Japan`s Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda, to lay out his agenda for the year. The opening session, looking at two issues facing the world, climate change and terrorism, will be addressed by US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. R K Pachauri, chairman of the UN Inter-Governmental Panel on Climate Change, which won the Nobel Peace Prize recently, along with Hamid Karzai, President of Afghanistan, will also speak at the opening ceremony.
The more than 2,500 participants from 88 countries expected included 27 heads of state or government, 113 cabinet ministers, and a dozen heads of international organisations. There were 1,370 company chairmen or CEOs, with 74 of the Fortune or Forbes top-100 companies represented, including Microsoft chairman Bill Gates, Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein and Renault / Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn.
The World Economic Forum Annual Meeting 2008 closed with a call by business, government and civil society leaders for a new brand of collaborative and innovative leadership to address the challenges of globalization, particularly the pressing problems of conflict, terrorism, climate change and water conservation.
"Globalization is forcing changes in how people collaborate in a fundamental way," said former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, a Member of the Foundation Board of the World Economic Forum and one of the Co-Chairs of the Annual Meeting 2008, at the closing plenary session. "You need stronger and stronger collaborative political leadership." The Annual Meeting 2008 programme was be based on the following five conceptual pillars:
Competing While Collaborating
Economics and Finance Addressing Economic Insecurity
Aligning Interests across Divides
Science and Technology
Exploring Nature’s New Frontiers
Values and Society
Understanding Future Shifts
Tony Blair , Prime Minister of the United Kingdom (1997-2007); Member of the Foundation Board of the World Economic Forum
James Dimon, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, JPMorgan Chase & Co., USA
KV Kamath, Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer, ICICI Bank, India
Henry Kissinger, Chairman, Kissinger Associates, USA
Indra K Nooyi, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, PepsiCo, USA
David J O`Reilly, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Chevron Corporation, USA
Wang Jianzhou, Chief Executive, China Mobile Communications Corporation, People`s Republic of China