GENEVA — Melting glaciers, rising seas and a growing divide between “winners and losers” of globalization top the World Economic Forum’s priority items this year in Switzerland’s mountain resort of Davos.
More than 3,000 political, business and cultural elites will descend on the Swiss ski town for next week’s open and closed sessions, swanky parties and private meetings on the sidelines. The theme of this year’s gathering is “Globalization 4.0: Shaping a Global Architecture in the Age of the Fourth Industrial Revolution,” referring to artificial intelligence and robotics.
WEF’s founder and executive chairman Klaus Schwab said the fourth wave of globalization must be human-centered and more inclusive, because the way it is now is unsustainable.
“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,” he said. ‘What we need is a moralization, or re-moralization, of globalization.”
Despite the exclusivity of Davos, WEF officials plan to focus on efforts to combat climate change, overcome inequality and improve international cooperation and inclusiveness. Some Davos discussions are off-the-record, but nearly half the events and gatherings are webcast.
Many more activities, including a public forum and occasional protests, take place around town beyond security-restricted areas for the more than 350 officially planned sessions.
— World Economic Forum (@wef) January 15, 2019
‘Profound global instability’
Dozens of world leaders and the heads of United Nations agencies and other international organizations are due to attend.
Those include Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, China’s Vice-President Wang Qishan, Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian National Authority’s Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah.
U.S. President Donald Trump canceled plans for what he called “my very important trip” to speak to the world financial community at Davos and hold possible high-level trade talks with China. He blamed his cancellation on the partial government shutdown, now more than three weeks long, resulting from his insistence on US$5.7 billion to build a Mexican border wall.
Among the chief recurring topics are the global economy, technology and risk resilience. Schwab, a German economist and former business professor, said the world is “entering a period of profound global instability brought on by the technological disruption of the Fourth Industrial Revolution and the realignment of geo-economics and geopolitical forces.”
Some of that instability will prevent some other world leaders from attending. French President Emmanuel Macron will also skip the meeting as he deals with the “yellow vest” protests. British Prime Minister Theresa May will stay at home to contend with Brexit.
The forum will take questions at www.weforum.org/globalization4 and feature responses on its Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn channels. The hashtag is #globalization4.