I have returned to Davos, Switzerland again this year. I arrived on the evening of January 23, after climbing into a plane around noon in London to fly out to Zurich. It’s my seventh year in a row to attend the annual conference in Davos officially known as the World Economic Forum. I have posted on this blog what took place at past conferences in 2003, 2004 and 2006. The scenery on the way looked a lot less wintery than in previous years, with only some patches of snow on the roads and mountains. Other cities I’ve visited since the beginning of the year like Washington DC, Geneva and London have also been warm.
Right after arriving I completed my conference registration and checked into my hotel room. It’s always difficult to choose which session to attend with so many interesting workshops and panels on the program. I decided to rest and skip the evening reception held by the conference chairman, Dr. Klaus Schwab, to prepare myself for a full day tomorrow.
On January 24, I started out going around conference halls, doing the routine of shaking hands and saying, “Hey, what’s up?” as I bumped into friends and acquaintances like Dr. Lester Brown. I met so many other people too.
At 10 AM I attended a session under the inspiring title “Make Green Pay.” (I think the naming is very clever.) The debate hosted by CNBC was being recorded for broadcast. A panel debated whether a free market solution is the right way for energy and other policies amid climate change, or if there should be greater government intervention. Members of the panel were split into Pros vs Cons. Each person was given 5 minutes to argue over one question, then one minute to drill an opponent, and finally opened up the floor to questions.
Q1. Nuclear energy and clean coal are the only viable alternatives to oil: Yes or No
Q2. Markets are superior to regulation in leading corporations towards “greener” operations: Yes or No
Q3. A global carbon tax will do more harm than good?
Very interesting questions, and so were the panelists. They include Dr. Daniel Esty, Director of the Yale Center for Environmental Law and Policy, and Sir Nicholas Stern who is author of the “Stern Report.” I sent an email later to Sir Nicholas whom I was supposed to see in London. The green debate seemed to signal how the issue of climate change and global warming will be high on the agenda for world business leaders this year. Did anyone catch the program? It was apparently aired in Europe, North America and Asia some time between January 26 and 28.
I met many other people during the lunch buffet too. Dr. Heizo Takenaka says he will be at the conference this year for 4 or 5 days. It was encouraging to hear that. Also on this day, Dr. Yoko Ishikura who is my co-author of the book “Sekai-kyu no kyaria no tsukurikata (How to Build a World Class Career)” and Dr. James Kondo who is a colleague of mine at the Health Policy Institute, Japan served as moderators of panels. Unfortunately I was unable to attend either one due to schedule conflict.
In my next posting on this blog, I intend to put up some images from the conference. I would like to start off here with a photo from a session with former Iranian president, Mohammad Khatami. On his left is Princess Lolwah Al Faisal. The person on the far left is three-time Pulitzer Prize winner Thomas Friedman who is a NY Times columnist known for books like “The World is Flat: A Brief History of the 21st Century (2005)” and “The Lexus and the Olive Tree: Understanding Globalization (1999).”