This week an assortment of business executives, university professors, NGO leaders and political leaders will be gathering in Davos, Switzerland for the 41st World Economic Forum summit. The slogan of the Forum is, “committed to improving the state of the world.” Now this is a very noble objective indeed but it is questionable whether the WEF has managed to contribute anything of substance in its 41 years of existence that has improved the state of the world. According to the New York Times, a recent WEF Global Risk Report identified 37 major problems facing the world, one more than in 2010. The Forum aims to tackle some of these problems and provide workable solutions that can benefit all of humanity but in reality very little has come out of these annual meeting of the global elite that has significantly made the world a better place. Klaus Schwab, the founder and executive chairman of the WEF said that he is, “concerned that governments and international organisations can no longer cope with the capacity and fast pace of the new realities of the world we live in.” In light of these new realities, it is sad that the WEF has become nothing more than a talk shop for the rich and powerful, mixed with lots of partying and entertainment. Very little that is discussed at the Forum actually leads to action that improves the lot of the average person in the world and instead of being a Forum that produces solutions for the world’s problem, the WEF has become nothing but an annual retreat for networking and concluding big business deals that only benefit an elite minority. All the expenditure that goes into organising and hosting this event could be better spent on more worthy causes that actually contribute positively and improve the world that we live in. When the world was in the depth of economic crisis last year, the WEF failed to produce anything of substance that could improve the world economy and take us out of recession. It ended up being just an expensive talk shop that neither produced solutions to the challenges that the world was faced with at the time nor anticipated future problems so as to better prepare us to respond better and more efficiently. The world seems to be obsessed with these summits and conferences of the “greatest minds” of our time which end up produce nothing of substance that takes the human race forward and makes the world a better place. We have academic conferences, UN summits, G8 and G20 summits, EU summits and AU summits, multilateral organisations with all kinds of experts and research groups and yet the world is more unequal than ever before, there are more people living in poverty than ever before, socio-economic challenges are increasing and the great political conflicts of the world remain unresolved. It leaves one wondering whether there is indeed any point in convening summits like the World Economic Forum because there is no greater benefit to humanity despite the large amounts of money and effort that go into making them happen. It’s about time that we put an end to these elite gatherings that are just a complete waste of time and money and create new platforms that are actually going to make a meaningful and significant contribution that will make the world a better place. I don’t see any point to the annual gathering of the world’s elite in Davos, do you?
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