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Swiss President speaks out against inequality at Davos

Switzerland's president, Moritz Leuenberger, speaks at the opening ceremony of the Forum in Davos

(Keystone)

The Swiss President, Moritz Leuenberger, has told the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum that the drive for economic growth is undermining freedom and justice, and that the benefits of globalisation must be shared.

In his speech to delegates gathered in the eastern ski resort, Leuenberger outlined the opportunities and risks of globalisation and said the World Economic Forum had become the symbol of a single global civilisation.

He said the Forum brought together people from all continents; not just managers and politicians but environmentalists, human rights activists and development organisations.

And he said the Forum was a reflection of a world that let us dream of boundless possibilities and boundless freedom.

But Leuenberger had a warning for delegates, too. "Old divides - political, economic, cultural - are indeed being overcome. But those that remain grow ever deeper."

He said the successes of globalisation threw into sharp relief the differences between rich and poor. And he said efforts to protect the environment and the climate risked being forgotten in the rush for economic growth.

"Freedom," said Leuenberger, "can only exist in harmony with justice and solidarity", adding that a balance must be struck between economic, social and environmental interests.

He said nothing else could be understood from the theme of this year's Forum: "Sustaining Growth and Bridging the Divides".

Leuenberger ended by calling on delegates to apply the Davos spirit when they returned home.

Only then, he said, would we see a cancellation of debt to the poorest countries, concrete measures to protect the environment and attempts to rid the world of inequalities in education.

by Michael Hollingdale


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