One of the main stories of Davos 2000 was the world post-Seattle. Non-governmental organisations (NGOs) had a higher profile in Davos than in past years, and business participants seemed far more interested in engaging with the NGOs.
One of the NGOs “outside” the Congress Centre was Berne Declaration, a group that, among other activities, has decided to monitor the World Economic Forum and Davos.
Berne Declaration has just issued its report on Davos. I’ve posted it as a story without editing or comment. But I’ll offer a brief comment here.
Unlike the WTO or any other UN organisation, the Forum is a private foundation, responsive to its members — the world’s foremost 1,000 companies. But we recognise that meeting our goal of “improving the state of the world” means certain responsibilities. We need to be inclusive, rather than exclusive. We want to be open and transparent. There is nothing new with our inviting NGOs and trade unions into Davos: Klaus Schwab invited them to the first Davos 30 years ago.
I welcome the scrutiny of Berne Declaration, and for the health of Davos we need to keep an active dialogue with NGOs (or at least those that want a dialogue, rather than those that want to trash the local McDonald’s).
My personal view is that free trade is a very good thing for the world economy, and particularly for the developing world. I find it ironic that Berne Declaration should castigate president Zedillo of Mexico, who is the democratically elected leader of a major developing country. I don’t think he’s been duped about free trade (and I know I can expect responses about how the PRI in Mexico is minimally democratic. You can substitute almost any elected head of state globally for Zedillo).
On globalisation, Davos of all places has been central in promoting the debate about how to ensure that the benefits of globalisation (which is a fact that is not going to go away) are spread widely. The inequalities that have attended globalisation “part one”, to pick up a phrase from Davos 2000, need not be the model for globalisation part two.
It is the society that matters, not the economy. That’s what we hope is one of the major themes participants should take away from Davos 2000.