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Home > Business > Business Headline > Report


Davos diary: WEF's 5-point agenda

A K Bhattacharya in New Delhi | January 31, 2005 09:51 IST

The five-day annual meeting of the World Economic Forum, which brings together the most powerful global business and government leaders at this Swiss ski resort, ended in Davos on Sunday.

WEF Founder and Executive Chairman Klaus Schwab urged participants to undertake responsibility in three areas: responsibility towards their local environment and country, responsibility towards the world, and responsibility towards the next generation.

In his three-minute closing remarks, Schwab said if the business and government leaders could become responsible in these areas, all the five major issues identified earlier as the most critical challenges before the world could be tackled.

The five issues that emerged after deliberations at different sessions were:

  • Poverty,
  • Equitable globalisation,
  • Climate change,
  • Education, and
  • Global governance.

In respect of poverty, the WEF agenda called for the implementation of the International Development Assistance programme of the World Bank and the millennium development goals through government reforms and capacity building.

The completion of the Doha round of trade negotiations to introduce reciprocity of market access as also free trade and the implementation of the new economic programme for Africa's development are the two requisites for achieving equitable globalisation.

The agenda for climate change advocates the need for reducing coal emission and creating a global emitter framework under which the 20 largest emitters of harmful gases should be made responsible for taking steps to prevent further damage to the environment.

The agenda for education called for special emphasis on sending girls to schools and global governance required that the Group of 20 countries should be strengthened as an instrument to ensure an equitable global order and steps should be taken to check nuclear proliferation.

Several leaders taking part in the closing plenary on Sunday, however, felt that not enough attention was being paid to some of the more important issues.

For instance, Kumi Naidoo, a leader of an NGO in Zambia, pointed out that gender equality, sustainable development, employment generation and a democratic process to elect global institution heads like the World Bank president were also important factors that should not be ignored in this debate.

He also urged that the developed world should not forget that it was best if it let African countries themselves decide the course of action to resolve their problems. Quoting Mahatma Gandhi, Naidoo said the world had enough to meet all the needs of its people, but not its greed.

Former US Vice-President Al Gore also cautioned that the problem of climate change was an emergency and called for large-scale efforts by the global community.

Australian Prime Minister John Howard pointed out trade liberalisation and reforms were key to tackling many of the issues identified at the annual meeting. Developed countries should muster the political will to grant more trade access to its markets, while developing countries could implement more domestic reforms, he said.

The business response to the agenda for action was led by Infosys Chairman and Chief Mentor, NR Narayana Murthy. He said: "If we want to see a different world tomorrow, we need to engage younger people in the current debate over poverty, climate change, global governance, equitable globalisation and education."

Narayana Murthy felt offering mid-day meals in schools could help educate more children and that this had been proved in India.

Several other industry leaders like John Thain, CEO, the New York Stock Exchange, and Daniel Vasella, CEO, Novartis, said companies should be more responsible towards environment by making more disclosures and governments also could introduce the necessary incentives to encourage more companies prevent environment pollution.

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