|▲ Klaus Schwab, the president of the World Economic Forum, 'Davos Forum'|
Globalization is not merely a passing trend. Despite signs of a rise in nationalism and far-right protectionist policies in the United States and parts of Europe, globalization is showing no signs of reversing any time soon. The expansion and development of information and communication industries, have provided the world with infinite access to global news and markets and there is no means in place to stop it. Today, the World Economic Forum, otherwise known as the Davos Forum, has become the pivotal meeting point for select businesses and political leaders, academics, non-governmental organizations, journalists, religious leaders and economists to join forces and address pressing global issues. The Dankook Herald (DKH) looked into its impact on globalization and its ability to serve the world as a forum for issues of common interest, in promoting diversity, peace and economic growth.
The European Management Forum (Or Davos forum) was launched in 1971 by Klaus Schwab, a professor at the University of Geneva. Professor Schwab presided over the event which first took place during a European Management Symposium. The intended objective of the forum was simple; introduce European companies to American style business operations. The event saw great success and it wasn’t long before the agenda was expanded to include economic and social issues as well as discussions surrounding the best methods to deal with international conflicts. By 1974 politicians were included on the list of participants and by 1987, the event was renamed to the World Economic forum, in order to better capture its increasingly global nature.
Held each year, during January or February, in Davos, Switzerland, participants talk about a broad range of world issues such as politics, economics and culture. Over the years many historical meetings have taken place at this neutral venue, including the first ministerial meetings between North and South Korea. In 2015, the Forum was formally recognized as an international organization and it is now on to its next phase of development as the global platform for public-private cooperation.
The mission of the Davos Forum is to engage the foremost political, business and other leaders of society to shape global, regional and industrial agendas. According to the online introduction page of the Davos Forum, it strives to demonstrate entrepreneurship in areas of global interest, while upholding the highest standards of governance, moral and intellectual integrity. Annual reports are also published for this forum, however the 2017 report has yet to be posted online. This forum has been known to have a great impact on the future policy direction of participating nations, so the content of the discussion is critical for projecting future trends in world governance and business development. During the 2016 Forum, President Klaus Schwab introduced the concept of the ‘Fourth Industrial Revolution’ and this captivated the attention of the world. This new era of industrial revolution is represented by Information and Communications Technologies (ICT) and Connected Homes which is a combination of digital and artificial intelligence (AI). The concept of the Fourth Industrial Revolution is also popular in Korea because of a book written by Schwab in 2016. The DKH interviewed Bae-Sang hee, Professor in the Dept. of English at Dankook University to discuss the topic. She argued that the term the ‘Fourth Industrial Revolution’ has come up every time we see huge technological changes. She said that “The Fourth Revolution is considered an advanced form of the ‘Third Industrial Revolution’. However, while it may represent slight enhancements in our quality of life, there are no such dramatic innovations like we saw in the third.” At the 2017 forum, held this year from January 17 to the 20, Susanne F. Wille, a journalist and anchor at the Swiss Television network SRF, said that while there may be no dramatic innovations, human relationships have changed in the Fourth Industrial Revolution. She argued that the focal point of the Fourth Industrial Revolution is the reshaping of how humans identify themselves, their ideologies, norms and values.
Other topics of interest from this year’s forum included ‘Responsive and Responsible Leadership’. Xi-jinping, the current General Secretary of the Communist Party of China, participated this year. He gave the keynote speech stating, “No one will emerge as a winner in a trade war”. This statement was a direct message to the United States and President Donald Trump’s new policy direction of protectionism. Former US Secretary of State under President Obama, John Kerry also criticized Trump’s policy direction by saying “Trade is not the most culpable entity for the loss of jobs. 85% of job loss in America is because of technology. I cannot wait to see how the incoming administration deals with AI. You’re not going to solve it by running away from this-you’ve got to see the strength in unity.” With the absence of the newly elected President Trump, most people criticized the anti-globalization stance of the US.
Other notable participants at this year’s forum were Antonio Guterres, the new United Nation (UN) Secretary General, Kim-Yong, President of the World Bank, Christine Lagarde, President of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), Ma Yun (Jack Ma), President of Alibaba, Sheryl Sandberg, Chief Operating Officer (COO) of Facebook, and George Soros, President of the Soros Fund Management. Each of these participants came this forum to promote an exchange of ideas and opinions.
Anthony Scaramucci, an American entrepreneur and the incoming Head of the White House Office for Public Liaison came to deliver the message that “President Trump is not looking for a rise of militarism” a stark contrast to the recent announcement that the 2017 US federal budget will focus almost exclusively on military spending. From Korea, Won Hee-ryong, Governor of Jeju was the sole politician to represent the nation at the popular conference. He is known to promote investments in Jeju Province and introduce its plush environment.
The importance of the Davos Forum in shaping policy direction, trade and world peace is staggering, but not surprising, given the vast array of important leaders in industry, governmental and non-governmental organizations, scholars and ordinary citizens. As students and future global leaders, Dankookians should take an interest in the meetings and their outcomes, so that they too can find ways, in this increasingly polarized society, to create a better tomorrow for all.
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