Through its dialogues and discussions at the Annual Meeting, its two other yearly global meetings and regional summits around the world and through its many initiatives and activities, the World Economic Forum has demonstrated its unique position not just as a convener of all stakeholders in the world’s future but also its role as an international organization for public-private cooperation.
The global crisis had shown that, as recovery takes hold, each economy must pursue a continuous agenda of reform to build resilience and drive growth so that it can withstand future stresses.
In a session on scenarios for the Russian Federation, Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev acknowledged that his country needs to “create a competitive environment, both domestically and globally”. In another session, Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti conceded that Italy “had failed to take on the challenges of globalization”.
Many global challenges remain quandaries for the international community. Despite consensus that action must be taken to address climate change, nations are seriously divided on how to set a global framework for reducing carbon emissions and rein in global warming. Conclusion of the Doha Round of multilateral trade negotiations under the World Trade Organization (WTO) remains elusive. And a regional challenge such as the civil war in Syria has proven to be a conundrum for the international community, with tragic consequences.
Because of its constitution as an international organization that brings together business, government and civil society in all its many forms and that is inclusive in geography and size, the World Economic Forum has proven its inestimable value to modern diplomacy. It is a non-partisan partner for all parties – a platform that is founded on the principle of stakeholder collaboration and on the Davos Spirit of collegial and candid exchange.
This was most obvious at the World Economic Forum on East Asia in Nay Pyi Taw, the capital of Myanmar. At the meeting, in which more than 1,000 business, government and civil society leaders from 55 countries participated, the Forum hosted participants across the full spectrum of Myanmar politics and society, including President Thein Sein and opposition leader Daw Aung San Suu Kyi. “We are part of the global community,” President Thein Sein declared. “We are getting back to our rightful place.” Also participating was President Benigno Simeon Aquino III of the Philippines, who represented a democratic country that is emerging finally to become an economic force in East Asia and the world. The Philippines would host the next East Asia meeting in May 2014.
At the Annual Meeting of the New Champions in Dalian, the Forum welcomed new Chinese Premier Li Keqiang in his debut appearance at the Summer Davos. “We live in a global village,” Li told participants in his opening address, in which he described China’s progress in transforming its economy. “No country can live in isolation of others like Robinson Crusoe.”
The Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) and the World Economic Forum, which started their partnership in 1985, signed a new collaboration agreement. The two organizations outlined their common objective – to pursue the Forum’s mission of supporting entrepreneurship in the global public interest together in India, which like China is entering a crucial stage in its economic and political development.
In November, the Forum convened its first Strategic Dialogue on the Future of Ukraine, bringing together senior policy-makers from Ukraine, neighbouring countries and international organizations. This was an unprecedented opportunity for close to 200 participants from the global business community to discuss how best to unlock Ukraine’s economic potential. Within weeks, however, Ukraine would be plunged into political turmoil and tensions with the Russian Federation.