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WEF meeting closes with call for collaborative leadership
The WEF Annual Meeting 2008 closed with a call by business, government and civil society leaders for a new brand of collaborative and innovative leadership to address the challenges of globalisation, particularly pressing problems of conflict.
THE WORLD Economic Forum Annual Meeting 2008 closed today with a call by business, government and civil society leaders for a new brand of collaborative and innovative leadership to address the challenges of globalisation, particularly the pressing problems of conflict – especially in the Middle East, terrorism, climate change and water conservation.
 
“Globalisation is forcing changes in how people collaborate in a fundamental way,” said former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, a member of the foundation board of the World Economic Forum and one of the co-chairs of the Annual Meeting 2008, at the closing plenary session.
 
“Globalisation is not going to go away – the question is what kind of globalisation do we have,” said Daniel Yergin, chairman of Cambridge Energy Research Associates (CERA).
 
According to Indra K Nooyi, chairman and chief executive officer of PepsiCo and an annual meeting co-chair, companies today have to be engaged in society, particularly on environmental issues. It is critical to running a business.
 
Companies “really do believe we should be good corporate citizens,” asserted another co-chair, James Dimon, chairman and chief executive officer of international banking group JP Morgan Chase & Co.
 
This is true even in emerging economies such as India, Dimon’s fellow co-chair KV Kamath, managing director and chief executive officer of India’s ICICI Bank, observed.
 
Panelists also expressed hope that a resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict will be reached by the end of 2008. “I am confident that we will have a resolution this year,” said Nobel Peace Prize laureate Elie Wiesel, who is Professor in the Humanities at Boston University.
 
“We have tremendous challenges ahead,” said Klaus Schwab, founder and executive chairman of the World Economic Forum, summing up the Annual Meeting 2008. “The mood was moderately optimistic because we have many, many opportunities ahead.”
 
Among the key announcements and achievements that emerged from the Annual Meeting 2008 are the following:
 
  • A joint statement vowing to make 2008 a turning point in the fight against poverty. The world is facing a “development emergency,” it said, pledging to “work together to help the world get back on track to meet the Millennium Development Goals.”
 
  • Japanese Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda unveiled a five-year, US$ 10 billion fund to support efforts in developing countries to combat global warming – a move to ensure that top priority is given to climate change at this year’s G8 Summit in Hokkaido.
 
  • The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation announced a US$ 306 million package of agricultural development grants “designed to boost the yields and incomes of millions of small farmers in Africa and other parts of the developing world so they can lift themselves and their families out of hunger and poverty.”
 
  • The World Economic Forum launched a landmark report on the interfaith dialogue between Muslim and Western societies. ‘Islam and the West: Annual Report on the State of Dialogue’ was the result of in-depth research and polling in more than 40 countries.
 
  • The Forum conducted an experiment with the online video website YouTube, asking people from around the world to answer “The Davos Question - What one thing do you think that countries, companies or individuals must do to make the world a better place in 2008?”
 
  • The World Economic Forum, forum member companies and the United Nations launched initiatives to facilitate further and deeper private sector support of humanitarian relief operations.
 
  • The World Economic Forum released the first part of the most comprehensive investigations into private equity: ‘The Globalisation of Alternative Investments Working Papers Volume 1: The Global Economic Impact of Private Equity Report 2008’.
 
  • Rwanda was designated as the launch country for a pilot programme for the Forum’s Global Education Initiative (GEI).
 
  • Mayors, regional governors and the private sector launched the World Economic Forum’s Slim City Initiative, an exchange programme between cities and the private sector to support action on resource efficiency in urban areas, focusing on energy, water, waste, mobility, planning, health and climate change.
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