WEF 2018 Meeting to Feature Record Number of World Leaders

Updated on 18 January 2018

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Ramaphosa to Lead SA delegation to WEFA record number of heads of state, government and international organisations, as well as leaders from business, civil society, academia, the arts and media, are set to attend the World Economic Forum’s (WEF) 48th annual meeting taking place in Davos-Klosters, Switzerland, from January 23-26.

Among those set to be in attendance is US President Donald Trump whose reported “shithole” comment as it related to immigration from Haiti and African countries caused global outrage.

The WEF summit takes place under the theme Creating a Shared Future in a Fractured World, and will seek to find ways to reaffirm international cooperation on crucial shared interests, such as international security, the environment and the global economy.

The summit’s opening address will be delivered by Prime Minister of India, Narendra Modi, while Trump is set to deliver a keynote address before the close of the meeting. WEF said that this year a record number of leaders from G7 economies will participate, including Italy prime minister Paolo Gentiloni, European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker, France president Emmanuel Macron, British prime minister Theresa May, and Canada PM Justin Trudeau.

Leaders from the G20 expected to attend, include Liu He, General Director of the CPC Central Committee of the People’s Republic of China, Argentina head of state Mauricio Macri, Brazil president Michel Temer, Alain Berset, president of the Swiss Confederation and South Africa deputy president Cyril Ramaphosa.

In a statement, WEF said the 2018 meeting comes at a time when geostrategic competition between states is generally seen to be on the rise.
Alongside international cooperation, an additional priority of the WEF meeting will be to overcome divisions within countries.

“These have often been caused by breakdowns in the social contract as a result of failure to protect societies from the transformational impacts of a succession of shocks, from globalization to the proliferation of social media and the birth of the Fourth Industrial Revolution,” WEF said.

“Collectively, these shocks have caused a loss of trust in institutions and damaged the relationship between business and society.”

Professor Klaus Schwab, Founder and Executive Chairman, World Economic Forum, said: “Our world has become fractured by increasing competition between nations and deep divides within societies. Yet the sheer scale of the challenges our world faces makes concerted, collaborative and integrated action more essential than ever. Our Annual Meeting aims to overcome these fault lines by reasserting shared interests among nations and securing multi-stakeholder commitment to renewing social contracts through inclusive growth.”

Overall, the WEF annual meeting will feature over 340 political leaders, with 10 heads of state and government from Africa, nine from the Middle East and North Africa and six from Latin America.

These include Hailemariam Dessalegn, prime minister of Ethiopia, recently appointed president of Zimbabwe Emmerson Mnangagwa, Yemi Osinbajo, the vice-president of Nigeria, Saad Al Hariri, president of the council of ministers in Lebanon, His Majesty Abdullah II Bin Al Hussein, King of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu, and Juan Manuel Santos, president of Columbia. (via African News Agency)

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