At the start of the week, both optimists and cynics had high expectations of this year’s World Economic Forum. Some believed those meeting at Davos would begin to design firm plans to pull the world out of the economic crisis.
Others predicted, even hoped, we would see the death of Davos man with governments in the ascendancy. In truth, these expectations were always unrealistic. The world can not be reshaped by an elite meeting for four days in a Swiss ski resort.
Also Read Kofi Annan’s first two columns on Davos
And to get out of this mess, we need both business, governments and other sectors of society working together to find sustainable policies to get capital into the system, restore growth and create jobs. Neither the market nor governments can pull us out of this deep crisis on their own.
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With grim news of job losses and growth forecasts every day, the mood was gloomy. But Davos did manage to look beyond financial and market fundamentals.
I think there is hope for the future that the right lessons are being learnt. There was a strong push this week to re-examine values and assumptions, and to embed the principles of fairness, transparency,accountability and balance in the governance of the global economy. Without equity being at the centre of our response, we won’t find lasting and effective solutions.
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Davos has also seen animated discussions about other equally urgent issues: the global food crisis and the enormous challenge of climate change which threatens life on this planet.
Africa, I am pleased to say, was not ignored either. Support to ensure Africa harnesses its rich potential must be a key component for global growth. There was also greater awareness by the corporate sector that it has a responsibility to help overcome all these common challenges.
We saw recognition that countries such as India, Brazil, South Africa, Russia and China must be given a stronger voice in drawing up solutions if the world is to tackle its problems effectively. This will need fundamental - and long overdue - transformation of our financial, economic and political international institutions.
As we leave Davos, we must build on what has been discussed. The scale of the global challenges we face and the terrible price of failure demand it.
We now know that no single country can solve these challenges on its own or protect its citizens from their impact.
We must truly work in partnership - governments, the corporate sector and the whole of civil society - within countries and between them. We must ensure our solutions are based on universal values and fairness. And we have urgently to move beyond declarations of principle to action. We don’t have time to waste.