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Home > Business > Business Headline > Report

Priorities for world leaders in 2005

January 26, 2005 06:03 IST

Two surveys commissioned by the World Economic Forum give a fascinating insight into the priorities of world leaders for the coming year and also the priorities that their citizens believe to be the most important.

To coincide with the World Economic Forum's annual meeting in Davos, the WEF has commissioned two separate but complementary polls on the key issues for 2005.

Together with Gallup International, the World Economic Forum asked 60,000 people in 50 countries a series of questions designed to see where they think their leaders should be taking action and putting in the most effort.

This survey represents the views of more than 1.2 billion global citizens. At the same time, the WEF teamed up with Weber Shandwick and put similar questions to the more than 2,000 world leaders invited to participate in the Annual Meeting in Davos (26-30 January).

The leaders are drawn from business, politics, civil society, academia and the media.

"The two surveys are illuminating for their similarities as well as for their differences. It is interesting to see that both groups place eradicating poverty and hunger and helping the poor as their top priorities. What is perhaps more surprising is that global citizens (27%) felt that the war on terrorism and reducing war and conflict were the most important priorities for leaders in 2005," said Klaus Schwab, Executive Chairman, World Economic Forum, in a media statement.

"At our annual meeting in Davos, we will work towards setting the priorities on the global agenda for the coming year. This survey gives invaluable insight into where and on what global citizens and their leaders see the most effort is needed," he said.

The Gallup International-World Economic Forum survey of more than 60,000 global citizens shows that people think the leaders of the world should focus on the Millennium Goal of eliminating extreme poverty and hunger as the most important global priority for 2005, but just as many people feel the war on terrorism is the global priority.

Reducing wars and conflicts, encouraging economic growth and improving the global economy in the world are also identified as important global priorities for world leaders, which echo the findings on issues where the public feels not enough progress is being made.

Other social issues, such as promoting full equality for women, improving human rights and overcoming AIDS and other serious health issues are deemed to be far less important and are mentioned by fewer than 1 in 20 respondents (5%).

Interestingly, regions show emphasis on different priorities. Western Europeans are more concerned to reduce wars and conflicts (17%), while in Latin America the focus is clearly on eliminating extreme poverty and hunger (30%).

For Americans, the war on terrorism takes central stage (26%), while in Asia-Pacific people feel the priority should be on encouraging economic growth in the global economy (21%). (Source: Gallup International Voice of the People Survey)

"Our survey of global citizens sends a very clear message to the leaders from all sections of society as they prepare to meet in Davos to discuss the issues that face the world, and to set the global agenda. While war and specifically the war on terrorism are important issues, it is still clear that eliminating poverty and hunger are the issues that the global citizenry want tackled by their leaders," said Meril James, Secretary-General, Gallup International.

So how do the priorities of the global citizens vary from those of the leaders coming to the World Economic Forum's annual meeting?

The Voice of the Leaders Survey was carried out in cooperation with Weber Shandwick and the World Economic Forum. Every leader taking part in the annual meeting in Davos was sent a questionnaire asking about their priorities and goals for the coming year.

What emerged was that in common with the Voice of the People Survey, improving the economic situation of the developing world is the top priority. Here is a summary of the Weber Shandwick findings:

Leaders are most likely to identify developing a global partnership to help poor and underdeveloped countries (32%) or eradicating extreme poverty and hunger (30%) as the most important goal for the world.

Only half this number (16%) thinks environmental sustainability should be the top priority while a similar number (17%) believe that universal education is the most important goal.

A higher proportion of corporate leaders (35%) saw the development of global partnerships as an important goal compared to 26% for non-corporate respondents.

This situation was reversed for eradicating extreme poverty and hunger where 28% of corporate leaders felt it was the most important goal compared to 33% of non-corporate leaders.

Achieving environmental sustainability was more important for non-corporate (20%) compared to 14% for the corporate group. (Source: KRC Research)

The World Economic Forum is one of the foremost global communities of business, political, intellectual and other leaders of society committed to improving the state of the world.

Incorporated as a foundation, and based in Geneva, Switzerland, the World Economic Forum is impartial and not-for-profit; it is tied to no political, partisan or national interests. The Forum has NGO consultative status with the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations.

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