World Economic Forum: Davos 2014 explained

The World Economic Forum has been meeting this week as part of its 44th Annual Meeting, focusing on issues ranging from Climate Change, to Global Poverty and Sustainable Development.

What is the World Economic Forum?
World Economic Forum
The World Economic Forum is an independent international organization committed to improving the state of the world by engaging business, political, academic and other leaders of society to shape global, regional and industry agendas. Incorporated as a not-for-profit foundation in 1971, and headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland.

The flagship event of the foundation is the invitation-only annual meeting held in winter at the end of January in Davos, bringing together chief executive officers from its 1,000 member companies as well as selected politicians, representatives from academia, NGOs, religious leaders and the media in an alpine winter environment.

The most recent issues showcased at the forum have been focused around Climate Change, Global Poverty and Sustainable Development.

The 44th annual meeting of the World Economic Forum:
During the welcome ceremony on Tuesday January 21, 2013, Davos founder Klaus Schwab urged delegates use their brains, souls, hearts and nerves to make progress during negotiations.

The overarching theme of the meeting, which took place until 25 January, was: ‘The Reshaping of the World: Consequences for Society, Politics and Business’.

Compelling Statements made during negotiations:

  • Stirring words by Pope Francis: The congress hall rang to the stern words of Pope Francis whose written message urged attendees to deliver «a new, profound, sense of responsibility» adding that: “The growth of equality … calls for decisions, mechanisms and processes directed to a better distribution of wealth, the creation of sources of employment and an integral promotion of the poor, which goes beyond a simple welfare mentality.”
  • On the Green Economy: “By the end of 2014, Yahoo! will be handling more traffic from mobile devices than from desktops” said Ms. Marissa Mayer (CEO of Yahoo!), “an example of why «the world’s biggest start-ups» need to keep innovating”.
  • On the future of world poverty: The billionaire philanthropist Bill Gates (ex CEO of Microsoft)stated that he thought there would be almost no poor countries left in the world by 2035. More than 70% of countries would have a higher income than China does today, while child mortality in developing countries would fall sharply.
  • On world poverty: Oxfam’s Winnie Byanyima reminded participants that people are being trapped in a cycle of poverty, stating that: “The 85 wealthiest people in the world own the same wealth as half the population of the world, there is something wrong with that because it is immoral.»
  • On the post-2015 development agenda: Danish environment minister Ida Auken stated that there needs to be a concerted effort to ensure that water becomes a post-2015 development goal in its own right, rather than being split between various targets. Supporting this statement she explained that in just 16 years from now, half of the world’s population would be living in areas with water stress.
  • On the circular economy: The Guardian reported that the World Economic Forum (WEF) report launched in Davos concludes the possibility of making mouthwatering savings of $1 trillion a year by 2025 and the creation of 100 000 new jobs within five years, should the world adopt the concept of a circular economy (see our previous blog post, dated November 18 2013 available here for more information about the circular economy).
  • On Climate Change and Sustainability: UN Climate Chief Christiana Figueres, stated that she was encouraged by the diversity of opinion on climate change at Davos and impressed by the extent to which it has been included on the WEF agenda. She explained that Climate change was a threat to global stability and private growth. She said it was critical for businesses to address climate, and that it needed to transition quickly to low carbon solutions if it want to be there to attract bottom line profits available to the first movers in this field.

Biggest achievement: on the climate scene
As highlighted by Achim Steiner, the Executive Director of UNEP in a recent article in The Guardian newspaper, this year’s focus of the climate change segment in Davos was on ‘short-lived climate pollutants’. The session was of particular success as it finally allowed major business leaders and public officials to join forces in agreeing to act on HFCs, methane and black carbon, the three greenhouse gas most at fault for causing global warming and affecting public health and economies across the globe.


Having released UNEP’s most recent report on global land use which calls for agriculture in the 21st century to reinvent itself and integrate sustainable and less carbon intensive practices, Mr. Steiner interpreted the achievement on climate issues, the increase in green economy technologies and the announcement made in the session on ending deforestation that major shifts in the global palm oil market would take place, as a sign that the ‘public sentiment’ of trade unions, environmental groups and human rights activists is now driving the political agenda.

In addition to the presence of international leaders like Al Gore and UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon, the Davos Meetings who help promote the climate agenda, the variety of multiple stakeholder groups present at Davos, are therefore a clear indication that this annual gathering in Davos continues to be effective in helping to identify the most pressing climate policy items of the year, which this year seems to be: what changes are required to create a more sustainable world?

Reticence from the international community in dealing with climate issues
The need for change is ever more apparent when contrasted with statements reported on in The Guardian that environmentalists at the summit have stated that so far no alternative to growth based on an increase in CO2 emissions had been identified, meaning that on present trends therefore economic growth would raise global temperatures by 4 to 5C by the 21st century.

Please click here for a quick video summary about the World Economic Forum.

Please click here for 22 Facts you should know about the Davos summit.

For more information about the Global Foundation for Democracy and Development please visit

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