World leaders speak on more collaboration to address challenges


Davos (Switzerland) : The international community should focus more on long-term structural changes to deepen collaboration among stakeholders, said the co-chairs, including India’s Chanda Kochhar, at the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting 2011, being held here.

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Klaus Schwab, founder and executive chairman of the WEF, warned of “global burnout”, as the world focuses on reacting to crises as they happen rather than on actively addressing challenges.

“We are all optimists here, but when we look at the big issues on the global agenda, there is pessimism. We don’t want this meeting to be one of despair. You fight possible burnout with renewed self-confidence.”

This should be “a meeting of constructive optimism”, Schwab was quoted as saying in a statement released on the WEF official website.

“We are at a turning point,” said Paul Bulcke, chief executive officer (CEO) of Nestle, Switzerland, and WEF co-chair.

“There is growth in the world. We have to go forward to basics. The role of economies has always been to create value for society at large,” he said.

The theme of this year’s annual meeting, which opened in Davos Wednesday, is “Shared Norms for the New Reality” of the post-crisis world.

Another co-chair, Chanda Kochhar, managing director and CEO of India’s ICICI Bank, said: “This is a more volatile world. We have to get used to managing businesses and country policies taking into account the higher volatility.”

“The world is becoming a dual-speed economy, with emerging markets growing faster than developed countries. This rebalancing is throwing up a new set of opportunities for everybody. We must understand these opportunities so we can capitalise on them, Kochhar said.

Fellow co-chair Yorihiko Kojima, chairman of Japan’s Mitsubishi Corporation, said: “Many things separate us but we have to unite as global citizens to address issues that are important not only for now but for generations to come.”

Ellen Kullman, CEO of DuPont, US, and another co-chair, said the world’s population would surpass seven billion people this year,

“We are going to need to work together across national boundaries to get the right answers” to global challenges, she said.

Jacob Wallenberg, chairman of Investor, Sweden, agreed with her, saying:

“We need to see more collaboration, more dialogue between stakeholders, which is what Davos is all about.”

Earlier, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev delivered the opening address at the WEF meet, just two days after the deadly terrorist attack on Moscow’s Domodedovo airport that killed 35 people.

“All our efforts to further develop the world economy will be for nothing if we fail to defeat terrorism, extremism and intolerance, if we fail to eradicate altogether these evils which are the greatest danger to mankind,” Medvedev told some 2,500 participants in the opening session.

Medvedev also outlined his government’s plans for modernising the Russian economy and enhancing Russia’s global competitiveness.

“Russia faces many difficulties in building the rule of law and creating a modern economy. We are moving ahead in fighting corruption and modernising the judiciary, though we have not yet achieved the best results from our efforts.”

He spoke about his commitment to technological development and the importance of attracting talent to Russia.

“Our task is to turn Russia into a more attractive place for the best minds in the world,” Medvedev said.

“Russia is an open country that is already part of the world economy. Governments should listen to what people have to say,” he said. “When authorities don’t meet the aspirations of the people, there will be a sad outcome. They will face chaos and instability.”

Earlier, Micheline Calmy-Rey, president of the Swiss Confederation and federal councillor of foreign affairs, welcomed the participants, saying:

“The gap between rich and poor is growing without relent. Global justice is a prerequisite for sustainable development and we have to understand that our lifestyle is not sustainable.”

The international community should “guarantee that resources are distributed in a way that benefits those who are most vulnerable”.

She called for the creation of a “sustainability council” at the UN. “The world is so fragile, so let’s take care of it.”