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The Importance of the World Economic Forum at 47

By Srimal Fernando Global Editor, The Diplomatic Society

Professor Klaus Schwab’s vision and leadership helped to establish the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Switzerland forty seven years ago. The foundations of the forum were laid down in 1971 and it was originally called European Management Forum which was a non-profit foundation based in Geneva. The Swiss-based foundation has a remarkable story and the history is full of interesting developments. Few years after the formation of the Swiss-based organization the European Management Forum  introduced a system of membership that will provide a platform for the world's 1,000 leading companies to shape a better future. Three years later the Swiss-based foundation opened up a new era for the first time by inviting political leaders to the annual meeting in Davos.

Photo: Chinese President Xi Jinping was the first Chinese President to visit Switzerland on a State visit and was the First Chinese president to attend the World Economic Forum in Davos.

The organization reached yet another milestone in 1987 by changing the name to World Economic Forum (WEF). 

The worldwide recognized World Economic Forum (WEF) Board of Trustees is made up of diverse globally reputed leaders.  H.M. Queen Rania Al Abdullah, Mukesh D. Ambani, Heizo Takenaka, Indra Nooyi, Jack Ma and George Yeo are the most notable Asian names.    

Building on the success of annual events, the 2017, WEFs annual summit theme was ‘Responsive and Responsible Leadership’.  Today, more than ever, the Swiss-based WEF focuses on three key areas. The WEFs summarized key areas are Measuring the fourth industrial Revolution, Solving the problems of the Global Commons and Addressing Global Security issues.  

The 2017 World Economic Forum (WEF) annual summit held from 17 to 20 January, the 47th of this kind, brought together over 40 heads of state and government, as well as 2,500 leaders from business, representatives of academia, media, diplomats, civil society and other leaders to the Swiss Alps’ town of  Davos in Switzerland.  Which Europe is now, Britain and the EU: The Way Forward, Advancing the Sustainable Development Agenda, The Future of Arab Economies, Creating Profit through Purpose, Investing in Peace and  Powering Africa  were  few of the  key topics that dominated  the  four day summit.  

Panel discussions under the theme ‘Powering Africa’ was one of the most lively discussions at the 2017 WEF summit. On the panel was Cyril Ramaphosa, South Africa’s deputy president;  Aliko Dangote, president of Dangote Industries Limited; Rachel Kyte, the special representative of the UN secretary-general; Akinwumi Ayodeji Adesina, president of the African Development Bank; and Bronwyn Nielsen, editor-in-chief at NBC Africa. “In the past, we’ve relied on governments to power our countries; we now need to bring in the private sector to help empower our economies and people,” said the South African Deputy President engaging the other panelists in a lively discussion.






Photo: Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa is on a panel discussion entitled Powering Africa at the World Economic Forum annual meeting in Davos on 17 January 2017. The panellists are, from left to right, Aliko Dangote, president of Dangote Industries Limited; Rachel Kyte, the special representative of the UN secretary-general; Akinwumi Ayodeji Adesina, president of the African Development Bank; Ramaphosa; and Bronwyn Nielsen, editor-in-chief at NBC Africa. (Image: South African Government,)

This year, Chinese President Xi Jinping, British Prime Minister Theresa May ,Vice President  of the  United States,  Joe Biden,  were keynote speakers  at the four day World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos.

One of the interesting speeches at the WEF was made by Chinese President Xi Jinping.  President Jinping stated, “Today, I wish to address the global economy in the context of economic globalization.” He also  said, “The gap between the poor and the rich and between the South and the North is widening. The root cause is that the three critical issues in the economic sphere have not been effectively addressed. First, lack of robust driving forces for global growth makes it difficult to sustain the steady growth of the global economy. Second, inadequate global economic governance makes it difficult to adapt to new developments in the global economy. Third, uneven global development makes it difficult to meet people’s expectations for better lives.”



British Prime Minister Theresa May’s speech on the third day of the annual World Economic Forum was a speech that was attended by large crowds.

She said, “Our decision to leave the European Union was no rejection of our friends in Europe, with whom we share common interests and values and so much else. It was no attempt to become more distant from them or to cease the co-operation that has helped to keep our continent secure and strong”.

This four day 47th World Economic Forum summit held in Davos has been an unprecedentedly important international event.  At the conclusion of the Summit, the questions such as, ‘How can the world strengthen growth and equality at the same time?’ ‘How can the world feed 9.7 billion people by 2050?’are some  of the questions  put forward  by  the experts at the World  Economic  Forum summit that must be  given serious thought  by the political leaders of the world, business leaders , NGO’s, media, academics, diplomats, and other individual groups.




February/March 2020

















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