Over 30 heads of state or governments and 1,400 business leaders, including nearly 100 from India, will begin a five-day brainstorming session here tomorrow, to try to “rebuild and redesign” the global economy and institutions after nearly 18 traumatic months.
The theme for the famous World Economic Forum (WEF) annual meeting this year is: ‘Improve the State of the World: Rethink, Redesign and Rebuild’ begins in the midst of a World Bank warning that the global economy may see a “double dip” (second recession) in 2011 if the fragile recovery that is underway is “mishandled“.
The CEOs who have assembled in this picturesque town nestled by the snow-laden Alpine peaks for the 40th WEF Summit, seem positive about 2010, but their optimism is well guarded.
“We look at the stock exchanges and feel that we are coming back to the world as we had it. But this would be a false assumption. We still have many unresolved issues. We have a fundamental issue of government debt...unemployment,” WEF founder Klaus Schwab said in a preview interview.
The global economy may see the fragile growth wilting, the World Bank has warned in its latest report despite projecting a 2.7 per cent expansion this year and 3.2 per cent in 2011.
The world economy had contracted 2.2 per cent in 2009 under the impact of a financial crisis set off in September 2008 unseen since World War II.
However, there are opportunities like building purchasing power of people in the poor and developing countries and also promoting ecologically sustainable growth models in the face of the rising threats from the climate change.
These issues and opportunities will be explored by 2,500 participants from 90 countries comprising head of governments, ministers, central bank chiefs, CEOs and public figures.
“Last 12-18 months have been obviously very difficult for the global economy. However, I think the worst is over. 2010 looks positive,” said Wipro chairman Azim Premji who is one of the six global CEOs co-chairing the WEF summit.
Mr. Premji is among the nearly 100-member Indian delegation comprising Road Transport Minister Kamal Nath, Commerce and Industry Minister Anand Sharma, Planning Commission Deputy Chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia and industry representatives.
The Indian CEOs list is a virtual who’s who of India Inc. Among the prominent names are Reliance Industries chairman Mukesh Ambani, State Bank of India chairman OP Bhatt, ICICI Bank chief Chanda Kochar, UB Group chairman Vijay Mallya, Mahindra & Mahindra vice-chairman Anand Mahindra and Bajaj Auto chairman Rahul Bajaj among others.
India and Indians would feature prominently among the scores of WEF sessions, which have been taking place for the last 40 years, discussing the contemporary issues. The first WEF summit was held in 1971.
Apart from Wipro chairman Premji, the other co-chairs of the sessions include Deutsche Bank chairman Josef Ackermann, Melinda French Gates of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Standard Chartered Bank Group chief executive Peter Sands, Google’s Eric Schmidt, Aetna chairman Ronald A Williams, and Patricia Woertz of Archer Daniels Midland.
French President Nicolas Sarkozy will deliver the opening address. “His speech will start the debate on the theme of the summit,” the WEF said.
As the chair of the 2010 G-20 meeting South Korean President Lee Myung—bak will deliver a special address. The G-20, a grouping of advanced developing countries and the developed nations, is expected to play a big role in reducing the global governance gap and making the world economy stronger, more sustainable and more balanced.