Building an International Organization for Public-Private Cooperation

On the Industry Agenda

This first industry-specific Forum event would eventually lead to the development of the Governors Meetings and Industry Partnerships.

1985

At this year’s European Management Symposium, the CEOs of leading companies in the telecommunications and information industries held separate sessions with relevant ministers and regulators.

This would strengthen the Forum’s capability to shape the industry agenda.

The first official Japanese delegation, which was headed by Isamu Yamashita, Chairman of Mitsui Engineering & Shipbuilding Co. and the Vice-Chairman of Keidanren, made the journey to Davos. Other members of the group included Taiyu Kobayashi, Chairman of Fujitsu; Minoru Inouye, Deputy President of the Bank of Tokyo; and Takashi Ishihara, President of Nissan Motor Company.

Given the prominence today of environmental protection on the global agenda, it is interesting to note that this was already a priority for business leaders at Davos. Two key figures from the automobile industry addressed the challenge. In one session, Takishi Ishihara, President of Nissan Motor Company of Japan, told participants that Japanese automakers had to spend enormous sums on research and development because of new environmental regulations. Despite this, in the end, the Japanese automobile industry would become more competitive in international markets, Ishihara reckoned.

Ishihara drew four conclusions. First, enterprises must approach environmental problems positively and take preventive measures in the medium and long term. Second, companies must use their R&D resources to find solutions and new opportunities. Third, a business must ensure that its environmental procedures and policies are transparent and must implement them across the company wherever it operates. Finally, business should abandon the idea that environmental policies necessarily conflict with economic health.

For his part, Carl H. Hahn, Chairman of Volkswagenwerk, the German automaker, also called for more attention to be paid to the protection of the environment. “In the long term, this is our only chance,” he warned. “But we must tackle the problems methodically: find out the true causes of pollution, work out the cost of dealing with them, continue with research, evaluate the implications of consumption in general, explore the international dimension of solutions, and so on.” He concluded: “The economical use of resources and the demands of economics are not mutually exclusive.”1

Through the years, the Forum has been at the forefront of shaping the global agenda on the environment, whether through work with international organizations or the G8 or initiatives on water and, most recently, the concept of the circular economy.


  1. Highlights of the Symposium and Summary of the Programme, Davos Symposium 1985, European Management Foundation