GENEVA - Nearly 3,000 participants from 117 countries, 53 heads of state and government, and close to 1,700 business leaders will gather at next week's annual World Economic Forum in the plush Swiss Alpine resort of Davos. Geopolitical crises, climate change and the U.S.-China trade disputes are expected to top the forum's large and challenging agenda.
The World Economic Forum is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year at a time of great uncertainty. The Forum's founder and executive chairman, Klaus Schwab, warns the world is in a state of emergency and the window to act is quickly closing.
"We do not want to face continued political and economic disintegration. We do not want to reach the tipping point of irreversibility on climate change. And we do not want that the next generation to inherit a world, which becomes ever more hostile and ever less habitable. Just think of the wildfires in Australia," he said."
Schwab said no institution or individual alone can address the many economic, environmental, social, political and technological challenges facing the world. He said only collaboration among leading players can do this. He added the Forum offers a platform in which leaders can seek such cooperation.
Organizers of the Forum expect the large number of young environmentalists led by Swedish activist Greta Thunberg to energize the climate change debate. Discussions about the de-escalation of hostilities and instability in the Middle East are expected to loom large during the week-long discussions.
Key leaders, such as the president of Iraq and the president of Iraqi-Kurdistan, as well as the Pakistani and Afghan presidents, will be attending. But Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif has canceled his appearance because of uncertainty in the region and growing discontent in his country.
Forum president Borge Brende told VOA that President Donald Trump will be coming with a high-powered delegation. It will include Secretary of the Treasury, Steven Mnuchin, U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, and National Security Adviser Robert O'Brien.
"I think there will be a lot of trusted discussions on trade, on security, on de-escalation, and I hope our platform can be a conducive one for securing a more safe and more prosperous 2020 than we saw in 2019," Brende said.
Trump is scheduled to arrive at the opening of the Forum's 50th anniversary celebration next Tuesday. Brende said Trump will deliver an opening speech in which he will share his good wishes for the world and the United States of America.