The World of International Organizations

WEF delays Singapore summit over pandemic

Singapore's Marina Bay Sands luxury hotel and convention center (AN/Fabio Achilli)

The World Economic Forum announced on Wednesday that its Special Annual Meeting 2021 in Singapore has been postponed until mid-August, almost three months later than planned, due to what it called “international challenges in containing the pandemic.”

WEF is best known for its Annual Meeting at the Swiss resort town of Davos, Switzerland each year in late January, which was held virtually last month due to the coronavirus pandemic. Its five days of online meetings this year were rebranded as the “Davos Agenda.” The in-person annual meetings at Davos began in the 1970s, when WEF’s founder and executive chairman, German economist and former business professor Klaus Schwab, began inviting leaders there.

The Geneva-based international organization for “public-private cooperation” had planned to convene an in-person version of the annual meeting at Singapore in late May. WEF officials said they now plan to bring together world leaders from government, business and society in the Southeast Asian nation from August 17-20.

“Although the World Economic Forum and government of Singapore remain confident of the measures in place to ensure a safe and effective meeting, and local transmission of COVID-19 in Singapore remains at negligible levels, the change to the meeting’s timing reflects the international challenges in containing the pandemic,” WEF said in a statement.

“Current global travel restrictions have made planning difficult for an in-person meeting in the first half of the year,” it said. “Furthermore, differing quarantine and air transport regulations have increased the lead time necessary to ensure that participants globally can make arrangements to join.”

WEF described its planned meeting for Singapore as the “first global leadership summit to address the challenges of recovering from the pandemic and laying the basis for a more inclusive and sustainable world. It will bring leaders face-to-face to focus on shaping solutions to the most pressing challenges of our times.”

Explaining the postponement, Schwab said such a summit requires participation among “all global stakeholders.” WEF anticipates returning to its in-person meetings at Davos in 2022.

Virus concerns in Singapore

In late January, Singapore announced its temporary suspension of a “travel bubble” with Germany, Malaysia and South Korea due to concerns over new COVID-19 variants and a resurgence in global cases. The city-state’s suspension of its so-called “green lane” agreement mainly affects people living in partner nations traveling to and from Singapore for business.

The suspension, which began on Monday, resulted from a regular review of its border measures on the risks of importing and transmitting the virus from travelers, Singapore’s foreign ministry said in a statement. Since the pandemic began early last year, the coronavirus has infected more than 102 million people and killed 2.2 million people worldwide.

“Given the resurgence of COVID-19 cases worldwide, the government of Singapore will be suspending the reciprocal green lane arrangements” for three months, the foreign ministry said. “Travellers who have already been approved to enter Singapore under these reciprocal green lanes can continue to do so. ”

Singapore created an agreement with neighboring Malaysia in August, then one with South Korea in September and another one with Germany in October.

Singapore and Switzerland usually come out at or near the top among 140 nations in WEF’s annual rankings of the world’s most competitive economies. In December, however, WEF released a new version of the report that analyzed how 37 nations have responded to the pandemic.

(Visited 11 times, 1 visits today)