In the next four days, from 22 to 25 January, international leaders and political figures in Davos will take the lead in their hands. They travel to Switzerland at the invitation of WEF founder Klaus Schwab. It is the 49th annual meeting of the World Economic Forum.
The big name is missing this year, however – US President Donald Trump has canceled his participation due to the internal blockade in the budget dispute. However, the United States is well represented in Davos, says Klaus Schwab in an interview. At the same time, the founder of the WEF raises the challenge.
World economic forum of the founder
In 1971, Klaus Schwab founded the charity foundation European Management Conference, which was renamed the World Economic Forum in 1987. Schwab is an economist.
SRF news: in your opinion, what is currently the most urgent economic problem?
Klaus Schwab: In my opinion, the most urgent problem is not economic. It affects our environment. We have very little time to tackle climate change. A second problem associated with the first is the lack of global cooperation. Without proper cooperation, we can not solve economic or environmental problems.
What can the WEF do to help solve these problems?
We firmly believe that these problems can only be solved through close cooperation between governments, businesses and civil society. Their representatives meet here in Davos. With over 70 sessions dedicated to environmental issues, we may be able to take small steps forward.
US President Donald Trump and his US delegation have canceled their participation in the WEF. How do you change the occasion?
Of course, we would have liked a strong American voice in this meeting. I spoke with President Trump at the Oval Office of the White House a few weeks ago. He wanted to come, but circumstances prevent him, but we still have about 700 Americans here – scientists, entrepreneurs, etc. I believe that America too is part of the WEF dialogue this year.
The WEF draws a grim vision of the world
At the beginning of the WEF, the organizers publish a report on the risks on the world situation. This will be particularly sad this year. The report says: "Global risks are on the rise, but the collective will to fight them is weakening." In concrete terms, the report cites climate change, which is excessively underutilized. The world will sleep "in disaster". Other important threats include fraud, data theft and cyber attacks. In addition, the authors warn against current trade conflicts, such as between the United States and China or between the United States and the European Union.
The theme of this year's WEF is about digitization, which is called the fourth industrial revolution. How much do you think you are prepared in Switzerland?
Switzerland is relatively well positioned. But we must not forget that competition in the field of new technologies will intensify. States like China and the United States are investing huge sums. So we can not believe we are still innovative tomorrow, just because we are today. This requires great efforts on the part of business and politics.
The interview was conducted by Patrizia Laeri.