Davos: rethinking the future.

Author:Gallinelli, Sven


The Graubunden resort town of Davos boasts first class winter sports opportunities and postcard scenery. But for five days at the end of January, it will become a fortress as tourists are replaced by global business and political leaders attending the 40th meeting of the World Economic Forum. Lee Howell, Head of Programming for WEF 2010, tells Swiss News what he expects from this year's meeting and how he thinks leaders may find answers to burning questions concerning the current recession.

Can you explain the theme for the 2010WEF--Improve the State of the World: Rethink, Redesign, Rebuild-to our readers?

Lee Howell: I think that most people would agree with the need to improve the state of the world--the first part of the theme, particularly given the state of the global economy. The second part, "Rethink, Redesign, Rebuild", reflects the processes essential for improving the state of the world. We are emerging from a deep recession and in 2010 we need to rethink some of the assumptions about the future economy, about how globalisation works today and current business models. This is even more essential because I think we cannot run the economy the way we did before the financial crisis. Therefore, a commitment to rethink is critical--we need to think about how we want to redesign business-models and institutional arrangements. The redesign effort also needs to lead to the rebuilding of the trust necessary to ensure success in the future.

How can the Forum contribute to the process of improving the world?

Lee Howell: The way to answer this question is to rethink how we define the world. The world today is interdependent and complex: it requires two things that are deep in the DNA of the Forum. First it requires a multi-stakeholder mindset--which means mapping out how issues are interdependent and then identifying their respective stakeholders. The second element is to create an opportunity for dialogue and consultation for those stakeholders. Once you identify the stakeholders impacted by the problem and its solution, you need to work even harder to convene them to discuss how they can work together towards addressing the issue. These two elements are at the core of the Forum's work for the past forty years.

Let's talk about rethinking first. Many people fear that once the economy is doing better, everything will revert to how it was before the crisis. So looking at it from a global perspective, how far would you...

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