Where can you see an English Duke sipping an espresso with a 25-year-old tech entrepreneur from Salt Lake City? In one place, ladies and gentleman: Davos-Klosters--the Swiss getaway that hosts the annual World Economic Forum.
As an important global platform, WEF remains unmatched in engaging leaders from across business, government, international organizations, academia and civil society in peer-to-peer working sessions, bringing them together to spend four days seeking to do good in the world to help create a better future. Joining this gathering of elites are a swarm of celebrities, journalists, producers, public relations professionals, support staff, entrepreneurs and others making for a very eclectic mix of interesting people from around the globe. Thus the WEF membership includes nearly every leading consulting firm, media holding company, global bank and global corporation. As a result, what happens in Davos doesn't stay in Davos -- in fact, Credit Suisse's official tagline was, "What Happens in Davos Shouldn't Stay in Davos."
The emergence of a multipolar world cannot become an excuse for indecision and inaction, which is why it is imperative that leaders respond collectively with credible actions to improve the state of the world. Owing to this thought, the theme of the 47th World Economic Forum Annual Meeting, conducted from 17-20th January 2017, was set as Responsive and Responsible Leadership- an aim to rededicate leaders from all walks of life to achieve common goals and drive new initiatives.
This year, the issues discussed ranged from trade to climate change, with Brexit, China and the threat that Trump poses to global progress being the key topics of discussion. World leaders spoke about the populist uprisings in Europe and America, and why they are misguided. Technology experts spoke about how technological advancements are scaring working class whites into supporting extreme trade policies to protect jobs in outdated sectors such as manufacturing, and how the future of jobs is in services and app development.
At Davos you know a speaker is a real draw if they manage to fill both the cavernous conference hall and also the overspill room. This was the case with President Xi Jinping of China, who opened the WEF by warning about the dangers of Trumpís protectionism in the form of tariffs and various policies to support American jobs, and how the future is in globalization, not nationalism. China has never implemented policies to support Chinese companies, and has only ever focused on a global economic vision that includes all nations, so they are speaking from a position of authority on this matter.
Meanwhile, John Kerry, the United States Secretary of State, defended Obama administration's track record and made a number of thinly-disguised swipes at Donald Trump. Mr Kerry acknowledged that certain "anxieties" were building in society as a result of the financial crisis and globalization but that these had prompted some politicians to "blame the wrong targets". Echoing President Xi, he added: "Trade is not to blame for job losses."
There were other interesting tidbits at Davos as well: bankers warning that dollar's strength could lead to financial bailouts in the emerging market economies, and business leaders discussing how theyíre navigating Brexit.
The WEF Annual Meeting is often described as a talking shop, but it is also a working meeting for dozens of different communities from all regions of the world, all ages and all sections of society. Major achievements of Davos 2017 include Social Entrepreneur Gary White of water.org, co-founded with Matt Damon, announcing a new $1.2 million partnership with Stella Artois to help provide clean water to 3.5 million people, GoodWeave International, another social enterprise, announcing a new international programme, Sourcing Freedom, to stop modern slavery in supply chains and last but not the least, 100 leading businesses signing the Compact for Responsive and Responsible Leadership. The Compact was developed with the Forumís International Business Council which will now develop a framework which will allow the measurement of a long-term approach.
Davos are the true leaders of the world, more so than elected leaders of nation states, and they need to be listened to and taken seriously. For the good of humanity, we should all take heed to their wise words, and do our best to spread their message far and wide. For it is only with knowledge, that we may truly change the world and turn our vision of a new world order into reality.
Remember, Davos might have ended, but their work continues.