In 1974 and 1975, the oil crisis plunged the world into a serious economic recession. While the European Management Forum was not immune to the impact of the downturn, it weathered the storm. In the Annual Report of the Foundation, Klaus Schwab wrote:
“Although the looming signs of stagnation and recession in the European and international economy led to budget cuts in a number of companies, perceptible mainly in the plunge of professional training, the European Management Forum did not suffer from this tendency – to the contrary, it seems that the policy of the foundation to offer services fostering above all a better understanding of the European and international political, economic and social development meets with a higher response in these periods of crisis. The economic situation has had an influence on the Forum inasmuch as special efforts were undertaken to reduce overall costs and to boost quality and utility of its different activities.”1
At the European Management Symposium, Dom Hélder Câmara, the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Olinda and Recife, Brazil, was invited by Klaus Schwab, despite pressure on the Forum not to invite him. Câmara was considered persona non grata by many governments and business leaders. He dubbed himself “the spokesperson of those two-thirds of humanity who suffer from the unfair distribution of nature’s resources.”
At Davos, Dom Hélder predicted that developing countries could some day challenge and clash with the leading economic powers. “Let’s hope by the Almighty God that this confrontation will not force them into using arms.” He criticized multinationals for keeping so much of mankind in appalling conditions. He called for a higher social responsibility, fairer wealth distribution and a reassessment of “the false values of a ‘waste society’” to achieve prosperity for all people.
After having provided a platform for the Club of Rome report The Limits to Growth, which attracted a great deal of publicity for the 1973 meeting, the Forum intensified its emphasis on environmental issues, inviting Captain Jacques-Yves Cousteau, the renowned French naval officer and undersea explorer, to Davos. He blamed the failure of governments to promote environmental protection on “political immaturity” and urged leading industrial nations to act.
The recession had not diminished the Forum’s determination to expand its activities and services. It increased the number of events in its series of roundtables to seven, including meetings on Europe at the European Commission base in Brussels and on Britain, France, Germany, Italy, Spain and Sweden in each country’s capital.
- Tätigkeitsbericht der Stiftung European Management Forum für die Periode vom 1.1.1974 bis 30.6.1975