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Leaders and luminaries including Sir David Attenborough, Shinzo Abe, Angela Merkel, Prince William and Jacinda Ardern will gather in Davos for the World Economic Forum’s Annual Meeting 2019.
They’re among around 3,000 participants drawn from all over the world and from every sphere of influence: business, government, civil society, academia, arts and culture, and media. From January 22 - 25, they will be convening in the snow-bound Swiss town of Davos to discuss how to build a better version of globalization.
Here’s your guide to the week.
What’s it all about this year?
The theme is Globalization 4.0: Shaping a Global Architecture in the Age of the Fourth Industrial Revolution. It picks up on two major trends. One: this is a fraught time for global cooperation, as legitimate frustration over the failure of globalization to consistently raise living standards spills over into populism and nationalism. And two: a whole new wave of change is crashing on us in the form of the high-tech digital revolution. With climate change posing an existential threat to our common future, we need to figure out better ways to make the global economy work, and fast.
As Professor Klaus Schwab, Founder and Chief Executive of the World Economic Forum, explains:
“This fourth wave of globalization needs to be human-centred, inclusive and sustainable. We are entering a period of profound global instability brought on by the technological disruption of the Fourth Industrial Revolution and the realignment of geo-economics and geopolitical forces. We need principals from all stakeholder groups in Davos to summon the imagination and commitment necessary to tackle it.”
The six big conversations
The theme will be explored over 350 sessions, nearly half of them webcast. The programme also focusses on six critical dialogues: geopolitics in a multiconceptual world, the future of the economy, industry systems and technology policy, risk resilience to promote systems thinking, human capital and society, and global institutional reform.
The youngest participant at just 16 is the South African wildlife photographer Skye Meaker, while the oldest is 92-year-old Sir David Attenborough, the renowned broadcaster who has used his work to draw attention to climate change.
Top political leaders taking part are: Ueli Maurer, President of the Swiss Confederation 2019 and Federal Councillor of Finance of Switzerland; Shinzo Abe, Prime Minister of Japan; Jair Bolsonaro, President of Brazil; Angela Merkel, Federal Chancellor of Germany; Wang Qishan, Vice-President of the People’s Republic of China; Giuseppe Conte, Prime Minister of Italy; Pedro Sanchez, Prime Minister of Spain; Barham Salih, President of Iraq; Mohammad Ashraf Ghani, President of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan; Sebastian Kurz, Federal Chancellor of Austria; Ivan Duque, President of Colombia; Abiy Ahmed, Prime Minster of Ethiopia; Leo Varadkar, Taoiseach of the Republic of Ireland; Benjamin Netanyahu, Prime Minister of Israel; Faiez Al Serrag, Prime Minister of Libya; Mark Rutte, Prime Minister of the Netherlands; Jacinda Ardern, Prime Minister of New Zealand; Erna Solberg, Prime Minister of Norway; Rami Hamdallah, Prime Minister of the Palestinian National Authority; Martin Alberto Vizcarra Cornejo, President of Peru; Paul Kagame, President of Rwanda; Cyril M. Ramaphosa, Prime Minister of South Africa; Yoweri Kaguta Museveni, President of Uganda; Nguyen Xuan Phuc, Prime Minister of Viet Nam; and Emmerson Mnangagwa, President of Zimbabwe.
Crystal Award winners, recognised for harnessing culture to promote positive change, are: conductor Marin Alsop, film director Haifaa Al-Mansour, and Sir David Attenborough.
Leaders from International Organizations include: Antonio Guterres, Secretary-General, United Nations; Michelle Bachelet, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights; Patricia Espinosa Cantellano, Executive Secretary, United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC); Kristalina Georgieva, Chief Executive Officer, World Bank; Filippo Grandi, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees; Roberto Azevedo, Director-General, World Trade Organization (WTO); Angel Gurría, Secretary-General, Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD); Christine Lagarde, Managing Director, International Monetary Fund (IMF); and Jens Stoltenberg, Secretary-General, North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).
Leaders from civil society are: Yasunobu Aihara, General Secretary, Japanese Trade Union Confederation (Jtuc-Rengo); Sharan Burrow, General Secretary, International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC); Winnie Byanyima, Executive Director, Oxfam International; Jennifer Morgan, Executive Director, Greenpeace International; Denis Mukwege, Founder, Panzi Foundation, 2018 Nobel Peace Laureate; Kenneth Roth, Executive Director, Human Rights Watch; Marco Lambertini, Director-General, WWF International; Delia Ferreira Rubio, Chair, Transparency International; Maria Ressa, Chief Executive Officer and Executive Editor, Rappler.com; Elizabeth H. Shuler, Secretary-Treasurer and Chief Financial Officer, American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO); Peter Sands, Executive Director, The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria (GF); Debbie Stothard, Secretary-General International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH); and Luca Visentini, General Secretary, European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC).
In addition to record participation from the public sector, the private sector will be represented by more than 1,700 leaders. Civil society is represented by almost 900 leaders from NGOs, social entrepreneurs, academia, labour organizations, faith-based and religious groups and media. Britain’s Prince William, the Duke of Cambridge, is attending to discuss his work on mental health, a key topic this year.
The Annual Meeting is the foremost global gathering representing younger generations, with 50 members of the Forum’s Global Shaper Community, aged between 20 and 30, and 100 Young Global Leaders, under the age of 40, participating. Find out more about the participants, including gender, sector, region, nationality and age here.
Who are the Co-Chairs and what do they do?
The Co-Chairs are responsible for framing discussions throughout the week, and this year five inspiring young leaders from our Global Shapers community will join Satya Nadella, Chief Executive Officer of Microsoft. They are:
Basima Abdulrahman, founder of KESK, one of Iraq’s first sustainable architecture consultancies – Kesk is Kurdish for “green”.
Juan David Aristizábal, co-founder of Todos por la Educación, Colombia’s first social movement uniting people from across the political spectrum to support education priorities.
Noura Berrouba, a member of the governing body of the European Youth Parliament and a board member of the National Council of Swedish Youth Organisations (LSU).
Julia Luscombe, Director of Strategic Initiatives at Feeding America, a not-for-profit working to end hunger in the United States through a nationwide network of food banks.
Mohammed Hassan Mohamud, zonal chairman of the Kakuma refugee camp in Kenya, who champions refugee rights and conflict prevention.
Akira Sakano, Chair of Zero Waste Academy, a not-for-profit environmental organization that is helping the small Japanese town of Kamikatsu to become waste-free by 2020.
How do I get involved?
You can watch over 100 sessions live here and follow key highlights and breaking stories on social media. We’re also inviting the public to share their thoughts and perspectives via the Globalization 4.0 video campaign, which will feature short videos (60-90 seconds long) Check out the questions here. The best responses will be featured on the Forum’s Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn channels. The hashtag for the project is #globalization4.
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The views expressed in this article are those of the author alone and not the World Economic Forum.
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