Leaders worried as economy passes thru' difficult time
Participants in the World Economic Forum (WEF) meet this year are not in a good mood. They are worried about the economy sliding towards a difficult time.
The hilly and white Davos, basically a ski resort, these days is more known as the venue for the WEF annual meeting, considered to be the biggest gathering of those holding the purse strings.
Based in Geneva, WEF is an independent international organisation committed to improving the state of the world by having leaders engaged in shaping the global, regional and industry agendas.
The theme of last year's meeting too was economy, but the world economy then was robust, just the opposite of this year's. The economic turmoil confronting the US and Europe has become a matter of concern for all.
Besides heads of government and ministers, bankers, economists and businessmen take part in the conference. In fact, they dominate the assembly and so do economic affairs.
Nobel Laureate and former US vice-president Al Gore and Irish rock star Bono however offered the audience a different taste by bringing up the issue of global climate change.
Gore said, "The countries are not taking appropriate measures to face the challenges of climate change and as a result, the situation is worsening."
Coming down hard on the rich countries, U2 frontman Bono said the G-8 countries are not making good on their pledges to support the developing world.
On the second day of the conference, Microsoft Corporation Chairman Bill Gates called for establishing "creative capitalism," saying "the world is getting better, but it's not getting better fast enough, and it's not getting better for everyone".
He observed, "There are roughly a billion people in the world who don't get enough food, who don't have clean drinking water, who don't have electricity, the things that we take for granted.
Diseases like malaria that kill over a million people a year get far less attention than drugs to help with baldness."
Gates called on the chief executives of the major commercial institutions to spend some of their talent, efforts and resources on the poorer segments of society.
Though President Pervez Musharraf hogged the limelight on the second day, economy returned to centre stage on the third day. There is however hardly any issue left out of the WEF agenda.
People from all walks of life come here, but not everyone stays for all five days. For example, the US foreign minister left as soon as her speech was over on the inaugural day. Chief Adviser of Bangladesh Dr Fakhruddin Ahmed was also scheduled to leave yesterday.
The entire Davos has been placed under a tight security net for the WEF conference. The participants, whoever they may be, have to show ID badge whenever they encounter police around the Congress Centre, the main venue.
But as long as they are inside the centre, the state premiers, ministers, economists and journalists--all could move with ease.
Twenty-nine heads of state or government are here this time. But few people care about global leaders walking by them. Cherry Blair, wife of former British prime minister Tony Blair, posed for a photograph without having to handle the hassles of fame.
One hundred sessions are scheduled to take place over the five days of conference being attended by more than 2,500 participants. Except some special invitees, most of the delegates, the businessmen in particular, have to contribute a hefty sum for attending the meet.
British actress Emma Thompson has been invited to this year's conference to add glamour. Last year it was Hollywood actress Angelina Jolie and Sharon Stone the year before.
The US, which usually plays the central role in the conference, this time, has been dubbed a "wounded giant" for its faltering economy.