Maximpact Blog

World Economic Forum Seeks to Shape Industrial Evolution


By Sunny Lewis

DAVOS-KLOSTERS, Switzerland, January 19, 2016 (ENS) – Forty heads of state and government, as well as 2,500 leaders from business and society will gather at the 46th World Economic Forum Annual Meeting, from January 20 to 23 in Davos-Klosters, under the theme, Mastering the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

Challenges such as security, climate change and “new normal” global growth and commodity prices, are among the issues on the agenda.

The co-chairs of the Annual Meeting 2016 are: Mary Barra, chairman and chief executive officer, General Motors; Sharan Burrow, general-secretary, International Trade Union Confederation; Satya Nadella, chief executive officer, Microsoft; Hiroaki Nakanishi, chairman and chief executive officer, Hitachi; Tidjane Thiam, chief executive officer, Credit Suisse; and Amira Yahyaoui, founder, Al Bawsala and Global Shaper.

Fifty people under the age of 30 from throughout the world known as Global Shapers are participating in the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting 2016 to bring millennial perspectives to this year’s high-tech agenda.

The theme of this year’s forum taking place from January 20-26 is the idea that technological change is shaping the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

“We must have a comprehensive and globally shared understanding of how technology is changing our lives and that of future generations, transforming the economic, social, ecological and cultural contexts in which we live,” said Klaus Schwab, Founder and Executive Chairman of the World Economic Forum.

“This is critical, in order to shape our collective future to reflect our common objectives and values,” Schwab said.

Driven by advances in artificial intelligence, robotics, autonomous vehicles, 3-D printing and nanotechnology, the Fourth Industrial Revolution is transforming our society and economy.

The innovation at the intersections of these disciplines promises to change life in new and unforeseen ways and will affect every industry and society. Learning how humankind can benefit from this revolution, while addressing its challenges, is the central aim of this year’s Meeting.

The speed, breadth and systems innovations of new technologies will be explored in over 250 sessions; over 100 sessions will be webcast live.

The Global Shapers Community is a network of 454 city-based hubs led by young people working for positive change. The Global Shapers are leaders between the ages of 20 and 30 who self-organize to make an impact in their local communities.

Shaping Davos is a series of conversations that explore local solutions to global issues by engaging local stakeholders first and then connecting them to Davos in live two-way video conversations.

Global Shapers bring together mayors, business leaders, social activists and academics to discuss new technologies from a local perspective.

South African President Jacob Zuma, left with Founder and Executive Chairman of the World Economic Forum Professor Klaus Schwab.

South African President Jacob Zuma, left with Founder and Executive Chairman of the World Economic Forum Professor Klaus Schwab.


Then, they will share their insights with a global audience during live conversations webcast live at between Wednesday, January 20 and Saturday, January 23.

The topics and the participating cities in the Shaping Davos series are:

  • Creating 75 Million Entrepreneurs: Is this Possible? (Wednesday 20 January, 14.45 – 15.45 CET) Connecting cities: Accra, Muscat, Al Khobar, Ahmedabad
  • Public Service and Millennials: Closing the Generational Gap (Thursday 21 January, 17.00 – 17.00 CET) Connecting cities: Monterrey, Mumbai, Tunis, Kyiv
  • The Power of the Platform (Friday 22 January, 17.00 – 18.00 CET) Connecting cities: Berlin, Giza, New Delhi, Bangalore
  • A “Glocal” Approach to Sustainable Development (Thursday 21 January, 11.15 – 12.15 CET) Connecting cities: Riyadh, Chandigarh, Rabat, Port Louis
  • Reimagining Urban Life (Saturday 23 January, 11.30 – 12.30 CET) Connecting cities: Moscow, Pune, Jeddah, Islamabad

Heads of state and government who will be there include: David Cameron, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom; Ahmet Davutoğlu, Prime Minister of Turkey; Joachim Gauck, President of Germany; Mauricio Macri, President of Argentina; Enrique Peña Nieto, President of Mexico; Justin Trudeau, Prime Minister of Canada; Alexis Tsipras, Prime Minister of Greece; Manuel Valls, Prime Minister of France; and Jacob Zuma, President of South Africa.

Johann Schneider-Ammann, President and Federal Councillor of Economic Affairs, Education and Research of the host country, Switzerland, will attend.

Other key government representatives who will be present are: Haidar Al Abadi, Prime Minister of Iraq; Habib Essid, Head of Government of Tunisia; Mohammad Ashraf Ghani, President of Afghanistan, Benjamin Netanyahu, Prime Minister of Israel; Juan Manuel Santos, President of Colombia; Tammam Saeb Salam, President of the Council of Ministers of Lebanon; Ranil Wickremesinghe, Prime Minister of Sri Lanka; and Yury Trutnev, Deputy Prime Minister of Russia.

The U.S. delegation is led by Vice-President Joe Biden and Jill Biden. Also attending are John Kerry, Secretary of State; Ashton Carter, Secretary of Defense; Sylvia Mathews Burwell, Secretary of Health and Human Services; Michael Froman, U.S. Trade Representative; Jacob Lew, Secretary of the Treasury; Penny Pritzker, Secretary of Commerce; Loretta Lynch, U.S. Attorney-General; and Gayle Smith, head of USAID. Gregory Abbott, governor of Texas, John Hickenlooper, governor of Colorado, Gina Raimondo, governor of Rhode Island as well as five senators and eight congressmen will be participating.

Participants include more than 1,500 business leaders from the World Economic Forum’s 1,000 Member companies and the heads of the World Bank, International Monetary Fund, European Central Bank, and the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank as well as the governors of the central banks of Canada, England, France, India, Japan, Mexico, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa and Switzerland.

Success at the COP21 climate talks in Paris offers great hope that challenges facing other global commons can be tackled through new models of public-private cooperation as well as the application of breakthrough science and technology solutions.

Participants include Laurent Fabius, France’s minister of foreign affairs and president of COP21; Christiana Figueres, executive secretary, UN Framework Convention on Climate Change; and Al Gore, vice-president of the United States (1993-2001); currently chairman and co-founder, Generation Investment Management, USA.

The World Economic Forum’s 22nd Annual Crystal Awards will celebrate the achievements of leading artists who have shown exemplary commitment to improving the state of the world. This year’s awardees are: actress Yao Chen; actor and film producer Leonardo DiCaprio; artist Olafur Eliasson; and musician and entrepreneur

Talent and engagement are strong, but risks are high. The World Economic Forum’s Global Risks Report 2016 finds risks on the rise in 2016.

In this year’s annual survey, some 750 experts assessed 29 separate global risks for both impact and likelihood over a 10-year time horizon.

The risk with the greatest potential impact in 2016 was found to be a failure of climate change mitigation and adaptation. This is the first time since the report was published in 2006 that an environmental risk has topped the ranking.

In 2016, climate change was considered to have greater potential damage than weapons of mass destruction, water crises, large-scale involuntary migration, and severe energy price shock.

Cecilia Reyes, chief risk officer of Zurich Insurance Group, said, “Climate change is exacerbating more risks than ever before in terms of water crises, food shortages, constrained economic growth, weaker societal cohesion and increased security risks.”

“Meanwhile, geopolitical instability is exposing businesses to cancelled projects, revoked licenses, interrupted production, damaged assets and restricted movement of funds across borders,” said Reyes. “These political conflicts are in turn making the challenge of climate change all the more insurmountable – reducing the potential for political co-operation, as well as diverting resource, innovation and time away from climate change resilience and prevention.”

Notes to Editor:

  • More information about Shaping Davos
  • More information about the Global Shapers Community, visit
  • Follow the Global Shapers on Twitter at @globalshapers
  • List of the 50 Global Shapers at Annual Meeting 2016 in Davos
  • Become a fan of the Global Shapers on Facebook at https.//
  • Meet the Curators on our widget http.//

Award-winning journalist Sunny Lewis is founding editor in chief of the Environment News Service (ENS), the original daily wire service of the environment, publishing since 1990.

Image 01: Much planning and advance work goes into each annual World Economic Forum meeting. Here, South African President Jacob Zuma, left, holds bilateral meeting with the Founder and Executive Chairman of the World Economic Forum Professor Klaus Schwab ahead of the 25th WEF on Africa Plenary. (Photo: GCIS) under creative commons license via Flickr