The World Economic Forum (WEF) recently concluded in Davos and the highlights include issues of global warming, the status of Iran, and the presence of women at the highest levels of economics and politics. The annual gathering of world leaders took place in Davos, Switzerland, this weekend and sought to address many of the crises currently facing the world economy. In a press release, the organizers of the summit noted that while there are many such problems in the world currently, in their opinion, there is not enough attention being paid to potential solutions to those problems. It is the search for solutions, therefore, that was the focus of the forum this year.
One such crisis the Davos forum sought to address was global warming and human involvement in climate change. According to a United Nations (UN) official, global warming and climate change are important issues because they have the potential to create many other problems. Christiana Figueres noted that global warming can lead to an increase in extreme weather events, food shortages, water shortages, and other catastrophes. Combatting global warming then can prevent multiple other issues from arising.
Noted climate change advocate, former U.S. Vice President Al Gore, was also present at Davos. He conducted his own panel on the topic which was attended by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon and philanthropist Bill Gates. One of the primary outcomes regarding global warming was the announcement of a program to increase investment in so-called “green energy” production and similar initiatives to reduce the impact of economic activity on the environment. These programs would be overseen by the Green Growth Action Alliance (G2A2) and included $500 million in new investments for “green energy” projects. Global warming was not the only issue from the Davos economic forum as Iran and the status of women were also highlighted.
Fresh off the new agreement that may ease economic sanctions against it, Iran arrived at Davos to declare that it is “open for business.” President Hassan Rouhani assured attendees at the conference that his country was not pursuing nuclear weapons and that Iran stood ready to join the economic elite of the world. International reaction to Iran’s message was skeptical but cautiously optimistic. U.S. Secretary of the Treasury Jack Lew said it would be a mistake for investors to overestimate how ready Iran is to be integrated into the world economy. Iran expert and scholar Abbas Milani argued that President Rouhani was chosen by Iran’s clerical elite for the purpose of improving Iran’s economic situation and there is much pressure on him domestically to do so.
Finally, while not addressed explicitly at the forum, the status of women was an issue at Davos. The percentage of women attendees at the forum was only 15 percent this year. This is a decrease from 17 percent in 2011. Facebook Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg called it a “chicken and the egg” scenario. If women are not elected to high public office, or chosen to serve in a business capacity, then they will not be in a position to attend a summit like Davos. She said the business world is full of “masculine expectations” and these needed to change if women are to make progress. Sandberg did note however that women seem to be making more progress in the developing world.
The Davos forum concluded yesterday and the world’s leaders returned to their individual concerns. The forum stated that they intended to seek solutions to the world’s problems. Overall the Davos Economic Forum highlighted issues of global warming, Iran, and the status of women in the world.
By Christopher V. Spencer