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WEF annual meeting concludes

WEF 2006 ended with a pledge to act on the global economy, environment and to help developing nations.

india Updated: Jan 30, 2006 11:28 IST

The World Economic Forum (WEF) 2006 annual meeting ended on Sunday with a pledge by participants to act this year on the global economy, the environment and helping developing nations.

The pledge came as the elite gathering of political, business, show business, academic and sports personalities wrapped up five days of discussions on a huge range of issues facing the planet.

"We're going through a phase in our planet that we've not known before," said former World Bank president James D Wolfensohn and now a special envoy for Gaza. "The world is changing around us and the issues - economics, poverty, social justice and environment - are the key issues that we need to address."

According to the Geneva-based WEF, several new initiatives emerged at this year's annual session which met under the slogan "The Creative Imperative."

Among others, it said, there was discussion about cooperation between the Forum's member companies and the UN on disaster relief, an effort by member companies to combat hunger in Africa, and a plan to extend the Forum's anti-corruption initiative in concert with multilateral development banks.

It said the Forum's members also came up with specific recommendations on how financial institutions can stimulate investment in the developing world and on how the Forum can cooperate with the UN Development Programme and various governments to expand the development of public-private partnerships.

One major theme at the 2006 annual session, attended by over 2,000 top leaders and reported on by several hundred journalists, was the emergence of China and India on the world economic stage.

In particular, conference participants noted the rise of the two Asian nations in reshaping the economic and political order.

"The dominance of the US and the dominance of Europe - particularly Western Europe - is eclipsed," declared Sir Martin Sorrell, group chief executive of WPP and the co-chair of the annual meeting.

"What we're witnessing is a sharp shift in wealth in a relatively short period of time from West to East," he said.

The Davos parley saw discussion of what was seen as an increasingly unstable relationship between China's high rates of saving and the yawning US current account deficit.

One of the recommendations from the 2006 meeting was to seek new policies to stimulate savings in the US and promote consumption in China.

A further issue concerned sustaining more equitable and less polluting growth in the developing world as a way to discourage further conflict and social unrest.

"In the world, people are really fighting two battles," said Mukesh D Ambani, chairman and managing director, Reliance Industries of India and the other co-chair of the Davos meeting.

"The developed world is fighting a battle for peace and then there's our part of the world, which is fighting a battle against poverty," he said.

First Published: Jan 30, 2006 11:22 IST