DUBAI: World leaders are preparing to head to the annual meeting
of the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos, Switzerland, amid the
riskiest global backdrop in years, according to a report from the
event organizer itself.
As the WEF announced the names of some of the 3,000 participants
set to attend the meeting and details of the four-day agenda, it
also published a gloomy outlook on international politics,
economics, the environment and technology.
Rising geopolitical and geo-economic tensions are the most
urgent risks in 2019, with 90 percent of experts surveyed expecting
further economic confrontation between major powers, according to
the WEF’s annual Global Risks Report.
“The world’s ability to foster collective action in the face
of urgent major crises has reached crisis levels, with worsening
international relations hindering action across a growing array of
serious challenges. Meanwhile, a darkening economic outlook, in
part caused by geopolitical tensions, looks set to further reduce
the potential for international cooperation in 2019,” it
Although political and economic worries were top of the
immediate agenda for the 1,000 experts polled by the WEF, the
environment and climate change are also a cause for concern, as are
“rapidly evolving” cyber and technological threats, the WEF
Børge Brende, the WEF president, said: “With global trade and
economic growth at risk in 2019, there is a more urgent need than
ever to renew the architecture of international cooperation. We
simply do not have the gunpowder to deal with the kind of slowdown
that current dynamics might lead us toward. What we need now is
coordinated, concerted action to sustain growth and to tackle the
grave threats facing our world today.”
The leaders who will begin to arrive in Switzerland in the next
week include Shinzo Abe, prime minister of Japan; Jair Bolsonaro,
president of Brazil; Angela Merkel, chancellor of Germany; and Wang
Qishan, vice president of China.
With US President Donald Trump pulling out of the meeting to
deal with the partial government shutdown, the American delegation
is expected to be led by Steven Mnuchin, Treasury secretary, and
Mike Pompeo, secretary of state.
The Middle East is well represented at the meeting, with at
least nine heads of state or government from the region, including
Palestine, Iraq, Egypt, Jordan and Lebanon. Saudi Arabia will be
represented by a team of senior policymakers and business
The risk report will give them all food for thought in the
Asking whether the world is “sleepwalking into a crisis,”
the report responded: “Global risks are intensifying but the
collective will to tackle them appears to be lacking. Instead,
divisions are hardening. The world’s move into a new phase of
strongly state-centered politics continued throughout 2018.
“The idea of ‘taking back control’ — whether
domestically from political rivals or externally from multilateral
or supranational organizations — resonates across many countries
and many issues.”
Macro-economic risks have moved into sharper focus, it
“Financial market volatility increased and the headwinds
facing the global economy intensified. The rate of global growth
appears to have peaked,” the report said, pointing to a slowdown
in growth forecasts for China as well as high levels of global debt
— at 225 percent of global gross domestic product (GDP),
significantly higher than before the financial crisis 10 years
Raising the prospect of a “climate catastrophe,” the report
said extreme weather, which many experts attribute to rapid climate
change, was a risk of great concern. “The results of climate
inaction are becoming increasingly clear,’ the WEF said.
Of the 3,000 participants at Davos, which runs from Jan. 22 to
25, around 78 percent are men, with an average age of 54.
The oldest will be the 92-year-old British broadcaster David
Attenborough, the youngest 16-year-old South African wildlife
photographer Skye Meaker.
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Source: FS – All-News-Economy
World leaders prepare for Davos amid gloomy forecasts