The 44th Annual Meeting of the World Economic Forum (WEF) focused on 'The Reshaping of the World: Consequences for Society, Politics and Business.' Many speeches, events, and presentations throughout the event centered on the devastating impacts of climate change and global poverty on economies and livelihoods, while participants looked forward to an ambitious post-2015 development agenda to address many of these problems.
25 January 2014: The 44th Annual Meeting of the World Economic Forum (WEF) focused on ‘The Reshaping of the World: Consequences for Society, Politics and Business.’ Many speeches, events and presentations throughout the meeting centered on the impacts of climate change and global poverty, while participants looked forward to an ambitious post-2015 development agenda to address many of these challenges.
Held in Davos, Switzerland, from 22-25 January 2015, this year’s WEF brought together 2,500 leaders of business, governments, NGOs and the UN system to discuss issues of economic, social and environmental development. Events focused on, inter alia: gender equality; global energy sources; information and communications technology (ICT); the socio-environmental consequences of business; healthcare systems; the science and impacts of climate change; emerging economies of developing countries; entrepreneurship, education, and employment; opportunities for youth; oceans; development finance; sustainability; and human rights.
At an event on ‘The Post-2015 Goals: Inspiring a New Generation to Act,’ participants discussed how cooperation and mutual accountability can inspire the vision and implementation of the post-2015 development agenda. Speakers included: Bono, U2; David Cameron, UK Prime Minister; and Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Nigeria’s Minister of Finance. Bono emphasized the need to consult the global poor in the making of the post-2015 agenda, while other panelists called for the agenda to build on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). Cameron highlighted the importance of including governance, transparency, and corruption in the next set of goals.
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon repeatedly emphasized the need for global action on climate change and development issues in his speeches at numerous events held during the WEF. At a press conference, he singled out climate change as an area in need of collaboration between among businesses, governments and civil society. He invited the leaders to the UN Climate Summit he will convene in New York, US, in September 2014, which he said will be an “action summit” to mobilize investments in sustainable energy and climate finance.
At events on gender equality and food security, Ban called for the private sector to focus on overcoming inequalities, eliminating hunger and engaging with governments on global development goals. Making a push for the world to achieve the MDGs by 2015, Ban stressed the need for accelerated action, particularly by increasing investments in the health, education and safety of girls across developing countries. “When you invest in [girls’] futures, you are guaranteed results that multiply across society,” he said, challenging businesses to better the lives of young girls.
Finally, at a dinner held by the UN Global Compact, Ban made the case for businesses to better engage with the work of the UN by embracing principles of sustainability across their sectors. Calling the post-2015 and climate negotiation processes “complementary and interdependent,” and in need of support from all actors, Ban said all business actors should become advocates for sustainability. He challenged business leaders to bring their ideas and commitments to the 2014 Climate Summit, and to work with governments on supporting sustainable development. [WEF 2014 Website] [UN Press Release] [WEF Post-2015 Session] [UNSG Remarks on Accelerating MDGs Action] [UNSG Remarks on Food Security] [UNSG Remarks at Global Compact Dinner]