World Economic Forum 2014: One Big Global Conversation

By Louise Law

Davos SwitzerlandThis year’s World Economic Forum (WEF) is underway in Davos, Switzerland. This event always brings back fond memories for me. I was lucky enough to ski in the Graubünden area of Switzerland in 2003, the same time the forum was held. We went into Davos one evening to go tobogganing; I’ve never seen so many bullet-proofed, black, shiny Audi’s.  That ski-trip always gave me a lifelong interest and curiosity for the Forum.

The fact that more than 2,500 participants, including nearly 40 heads of state or government, as well as business leaders and young entrepreneurs, convene at this beautiful village in the Alps to discuss the most important global issues is captivating. This year is the 44th World Economic Forum Annual Meeting. Whatever the world is faced with today and in the future, the WEF is there to get everyone talking.

How do you start a conversation with so many perspectives and ideas in so many languages? The WEF’s success begins with a strong team of professional translators and interpreters.

The focus for this year’s Forum: “The Reshaping of the World, Consequences for Society, Politics and Business.” There were so many really interesting sessions and an eye-popping array of excellent speakers.

Here are some highlights:

  • The gap between rich and poor is growing. I know one of the aims of this years’ Forum is to address the inequality that exists in most of the world’s societies, especially after the turbulence of recent years of economic uncertainty.
  • Oxfam released a report that claims the richest 85 people on the globe control as much wealth as the poorest half of the world’s population. The gap between the rich and the poor could be the greatest threat to the world economy.
  • Microsoft Founder, Bill Gates, delivered good news though by saying the by the year 2035, there will be almost no poor countries left in the world. I think that is a brave prediction.
  • One session I would have liked to attend was “The New Digital Context,” which brought together leading technology business leaders.
  • A hot topic of discussion was privacy of data in light of the NSA revelations on the mass collection of American phone data. Marissa Mayer, CEO of Yahoo stated, “What’s murky about today is that people don’t know what data is being collected and about what is being used. 2014 will be a tipping point.”
  • John Chambers, Cisco CEO said, “…We need all companies to come up with guidelines…countries need to work together to solve issues.”
  • On a lighter note, Jason Bourne was there! Sorry, it was Matt Damon talking about the world’s water crisis. “Every 20 second a kid dies because they lack clean water and sanitation.”
  • Plus, Brazilian soccer legend, Ronaldo was also there. At the Forum on Wednesday, he said that the 2014 World Cup in Brazil would the “best ever.”

I’m sure big headlines will be made as a result of this year’s WEF and the predictions. We’ll just have to wait and see if they come true.  It is truly a global conversation and one that requires the world to listen, no matter the language.