WEF: Swiss president pleads for sustainable growth

WEF president Børge Brende, right, and Saadia Zahidi, managing director of the WEF's Centre for the New Economy and Society, during a virtual press conference to preview the Davos Agenda 2021 Keystone / Laurent Gillieron

Building a sustainable global economy, digitalisation and increasing international cooperation and are among the important issues on the Davos Agenda, said Guy Parmelin in his opening speech at the World Economic Forum’s (WEF) online conference.

This content was published on January 25, 2021 - 09:08

“A crisis is a productive state. You simply have to get rid of its aftertaste of catastrophe.” Parmelin, who holds the rotating Swiss presidency this year, said on Sunday that this quote by Swiss writer Max Frisch defined the goal for this year very well.

In the middle of the Covid-19 pandemic it was necessary to plan the way forward for the period after the acute phase of the crisis, he said.

Parmelin, who is also the Swiss economics minister, said the speed and efficiency with which vaccines had been developed have shown what states, companies and science are capable of when they join forces. In order to avoid another crisis, politics, business and society must make a decisive commitment to sustainable growth, he stressed.

Parmelin said the WEF, which normally takes place in the Swiss mountain resort of Davos, had long provided a space for dialogue between politics, business and civil society. “This dialogue is essential for the future,” he said.

For his part, WEF founder Klaus Schwab believed the world must strive for a higher degree of social maturity. In an article in some Swiss newspapers on Monday, he wrote that the aim for 2021 would be to create a solid basis for the well-being of people and the planet. He said this would require getting Covid-19 under control, signing targets for zero greenhouse gas emissions, and companies moving their focus away from short-term profits.

Important signals

Guy Parmelin regretted that it had not been possible to hold the 51st annual meeting of the WEF in Davos, but he hoped that the meeting organised in Singapore in May would send out important signals.

He added that he was already looking forward to the annual meeting being held again in Switzerland in 2022 – “that would also be a sign that the acute phase of the crisis was in the past”, he said.

The online “Davos AgendaExternal link” conference lasts until Friday. Chinese President Xi Jinping, French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel are among those expected to attend.

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