The most important innovation introduced at this year’s European Management Symposium was the holding of the first Informal Gathering of World Economic Leaders, which Davos regulars now usually refer to by the acronym IGWEL. This closed-door, off-the-record meeting allows for informal dialogue, permitting participants to get to know each another, exchange ideas and work on ongoing issues and problems without having to produce a communiqué, treaty, press statement or any other document at its conclusion.
Today, IGWEL remains enormously attractive to participants as the only global framework for an interdisciplinary exchange of ideas and opinions of government leaders and heads of international organizations.
In recent years, G20 countries have typically been represented by their head of government or by ministers in charge of foreign affairs, finance, economy, trade, environment, technology, health and other portfolios. In addition, top business and civil society leaders, as well as other important public figures, have joined in relevant sessions.
During the first few years it was convened, four issues dominated its agenda: the international monetary system, trade relations, East-West ties and North-South relations. IGWEL discussions today focus on many of the new global challenges such as food security, water conservation and management, poverty eradication and financial regulatory reforms needed since the global economic crisis. Politicians from developing nations have been particularly appreciative of IGWEL since they have always been integrated into the process as full and equal partners. This contrasted markedly with their participation in many multilateral organizations.
A highlight of the 1982 European Management Symposium was US President Ronald Reagan’s special message to Davos participants via satellite from Washington DC. Reagan called for unity among the democratic countries in the West in the face of economic stress. “We need to remember that despite the problems we face, we are strong, secure and stable democracies,” the president declared. “We need to remind ourselves that when we stood together in the past, we performed great feats. We can do it again; we can meet any challenge if we remain true to each other and to the beliefs we share.”1
- President Ronald Reagan’s Remarks to the European Management Symposium, Davos, 28 January 1982