The founder of the World Economic Forum said 2021 will be a "crucial year" to end the Covid-19 pandemic, stimulate global economic growth and re-establish trust.
Klaus Schwab said the WEF’s Davos Agenda, taking place online later his month, will convene under the theme “a crucial year to rebuild trust” as the world continues to grapple with the health and economic effects of the coronavirus crisis.
“In the context of the Covid-19 pandemic, the need to reset priorities and the urgency to reform systems have been growing stronger around the world,” Mr Schwab said on Monday.
“Rebuilding trust and increasing global co-operation are crucial to fostering innovative and bold solutions to stem the pandemic and drive a robust recovery.”
The WEF’s annual meeting is traditionally held in January in the snow-capped mountain resort of Davos in Switzerland, with world leaders, business heads, central bankers and billionaires flying in for high-level conferences and networking sessions.
This year’s in-person event will now be hosted in Singapore from May 13 to 16. The city-state is considered safer Covid-wise as it has been largely closed off to the world since the pandemic started and has fewer than 100 cases. Switzerland, on the other hand, is experiencing a surge in infections along with the rest of the Europe.
Meanwhile, the online event from January 25 to 29 will still welcome some of the world’s top policymakers including President of China Xi Jinping, Narendra Modi, Prime Minister of India, French President Emmanuel Macron, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission.
The chief executives of more than 500 companies will also join discussion on topics such as fair economic and social systems and the climate crisis, the Geneva-based organisation said.
From the banking world, Christine Lagarde, head of the European Central Bank, and Andrew Bailey, Governor of the Bank of England, will also be talking.
The WEF said the pandemic has demonstrated that no institution or individual alone can address the economic, environmental, social and technological challenges of "this complex and interdependent world".
Mr Schwab said 2021 is a “mobilisation year” where it is key for everyone to work together to rebuild the world in the face of Covid-19.
To help address the systemic changes brought about by the crisis, the Davos Agenda hopes to offer leaders innovative and bold solutions to stem the pandemic and drive a robust recovery over the next year, which centre around five themes.
These are designing cohesive, sustainable, resilient economic systems; driving responsible industry transformation and growth; enhancing stewardship of the global commons; harnessing the technologies of the fourth Industrial Revolution; and advancing global and regional co-operation.
“This unique meeting will be an opportunity for leaders to outline their vision and address the most important issues of our time, such as the need to accelerate job creation and to protect the environment,” Mr Shwab said.
He said economic growth needs to be “more resilient, more inclusive and more sustainable” and that hosting a virtual session will not diminish the spirit of Davos, which facilitates multiple networking sessions and offers attendees access to some of the world’s top leaders.
“Nobody could have envisioned what happened. We were practically the last global summit which took place in person,” he said referring to the January 2020 event.
“But we have more partners now than we had at the beginning of the crisis, which shows that some partners are not just interested in networking and creating contacts, they really want to engage.”