From geosecurity to arts & culture
Middle East: a message of peace and hope
From Syria to the Arab-Israeli conflict, the problems plaguing the Middle East often appear intractable. However, the mood coming from the Annual Meeting 2014 was one of hope and optimism.
Making the first speech by an Iranian president at the Annual Meeting since 2004, President Hassan Rouhani delivered a message of “friendship, engagement, cooperation and peaceful coexistence”. He stressed that he is determined to lay the groundwork for his country to become one of the world’s top 10 economies in coming years, and intends to develop peaceful and normalized relationships with Iran’s immediate neighbours and internationally. “We want to see a better future and peace with all. I want to integrate Iran as an active and peaceful player in the global community,” he said.
John F. Kerry, US Secretary of State, hailed recent diplomatic breakthroughs with Iran, which, if consolidated, would mean a safer region and world. Coming directly from peace talks on Syria in Geneva and Montreux, Kerry decried the human tragedy unfolding in the country and said that the US will focus its efforts on “forceful diplomacy”, which recently resulted in an agreement to remove all chemical weapons from Syria. Kerry also pledged a full-fledged effort to make peace between the Israelis and Palestinians. He emphasized that the “end game” is clear and should involve secure Palestinian and Israeli states.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu also reasserted his belief in the need for advancing negotiations for peace in the region. “I’m ready for peace. I’m ready for a real, secure genuine peace.” However, advancement of peace must be built on two foundations of mutual recognition and strong security arrangements, he said. Against a backdrop of the humanitarian catastrophe in Syria and ongoing transformations in Middle East politics, Netanyahu focused on Israel’s strong economy. He argued that advancing economic peace is an important complement to political peace and that Israelis, Palestinians and Arab neighbours would benefit from economic growth in Israel.
On the sidelines of the Annual Meeting, Israeli and Palestinian business leaders continued their dialogue since the launch of the Breaking the Impasse initiative at the World Economic Forum on the Middle East in Jordan in May 2013 to urge their respective governments to reach a peace agreement.
Crystal Award winners 2014
Three cultural leaders were presented with the Forum’s Crystal Award, honouring artists who have used their work to improve the state of the world. Oscar-winning actor Matt Damon was recognized for his commitment to social and environmental issues, particularly water issues through Water.org, which he co-founded. Internationally acclaimed tenor Juan Diego Flórez was honoured for establishing Sinfonía por el Perú, a foundation that provides Peruvian youth with a musical education as part of their personal development. Iranian-born visual artist Shirin Neshat received the award for her artwork, which focuses on issues of gender, culture and identity. Her work is included in the collections of museums and public institutions around the globe.
Continuous professional leadership development
At the Annual Meeting the World Economic Forum launched an online learning platform, Forum Academy, to offer courses for professionals and organizations to enhance their strategic knowledge in a fast-changing world. Launched in partnership with edX, Forum Academy is a non-profit initiative to provide continuous and certified professional leadership development. It will engage a network of business, academic, political and other leaders of society to deliver a Davos-level curriculum on global, sectorial and regional topics.
As rapid technological, economic and social changes affect the context of professional work, individuals and institutions need insights into the latest developments and best practices on relevant topics. Forum Academy helps to address this need by leveraging Forum’s multistakeholder network of the best and most relevant knowledge providers. Sign-up is now open for the first Forum Academy course on Global Technology Leadership starting in May 2014.
Walking in the shoes of a refugee
Can you imagine what it is like to be a refugee? During the Annual Meeting, participants took part in two powerful simulations to experience Syrian refugees’ daily struggle for survival. The first, hosted by the Crossroads Foundation and designed by refugees, internally displaced persons and NGOs, created a realistic scenario to encounter first-hand some of the struggles faced by refugees and internally displaced persons. Refugees and field workers were on hand to answer questions. The second, Project Syria, offered a four-minute immersive experience using virtual reality gaming technology to highlight the plight of children in Syria. The two-part experience replicated a busy street corner in Aleppo at the time of a rocket attack and then a refugee camp. What the user sees is based on the real story of how an increasing number of Syrians are fleeing their homeland in search of safety. The objective of these two experiences was to move Davos participants towards action and response to the humanitarian crisis in Syria, in which nearly a third of the population has been displaced.
To see the official public session, The Humanitarian Crisis in Syria, visit:
Davos steps to better health
With over 25 sessions during the Annual Meeting – from redesigning health systems and medical breakthroughs, to mental illness and meditation – health featured high in the programme this year. Discussions highlighted health’s impact on businesses and how it can serve as an engine for economic growth and prosperity. An inaugural Health Summit brought together heads of government, chief executives and others to sharpen the awareness for health as a cross-sector challenge in societies. There was also a strong focus on the individual, with participants invited to take the Davos Health Challenge. During the week, many recorded their movements by wearing a wristband tracker to help understand their physical activity and energy levels. The results: 850 participants walked a daily average of 6,748 steps. If everyone at Davos took part in the challenge, they would have walked 310,000-plus kilometres – the equivalent of walking the perimeter of Switzerland 167 times.
To see the official public session, Health is Wealth, visit: