Davos Notebook

What Davos can learn from BP

OILSPILL-BP/COMMISSION

By Christine Bader, who worked for BP from 1999-2008. The opinions expressed are her own.

Next week world leaders will gather in Davos for the annual World Economic Forum to discuss topics ranging from climate change to global risks and economic growth. Looming in the background will be last year’s massive Gulf oil spill, which has serious implications for all of those issues.

In the postmortem analyses of the spill, my former employer, BP, looks like the opposite of a model corporate citizen, having apparently contributed to 11 deaths, numerous other injuries, and the release of over four million barrels of oil into the Gulf of Mexico.

I struggle to reconcile the BP on view today, in which reckless cost-cutting and risk-taking seem to run rampant, with the BP I worked for, which went above and beyond what was required to take care of its employees and neighbors. The latter in no way exonerates the former, but examining the two different faces of the company shows how we can improve corporate behavior — not just of BP, but of business more broadly.

When I moved to Indonesia for BP in 2000, my assignment was to make sure that a planned liquefied natural gas plant would benefit the people of West Papua, the country’s easternmost province on the island of New Guinea.

Why Davos is not pretentious

Former editor in chief of Business Week, Stephen Adler, explains why Davos is such a gold mine for journalists and talks about his encounters there with Vladimir Putin and Jane Goodall:

New reality at Davos

The theme of this year’s annual get-together of business and political leaders in Davos is “Shared norms for the new reality”.

One of the main examples of that new reality is the shift in political and economic power from West to East and North to South, according to Klaus Schwab, the founder and chairman of the World Economic Forum that organises the meeting. The change, cemented by the economic crisis, will cause upheaval, he told reporters.

This year it seems the new reality is striking close to home.

Among the 2,500 participants will be 25 heads of government and more than 80 ministers, with every G20 country represented at one level or another.

Is Davos really a zoo?

Watch Reuters Global Editor at Large Chrystia Freeland and Reuters finance blogger Felix Salmon debate the utility of the World Economic Forum’s annual meeting at Davos and trade memories about their experiences at Davos over the years.

While Chrystia thinks Davos is a good hunting ground for journalism, Felix thinks it’s “mostly zoological.” Felix may have zero hope for the conference, but there are two topics Chrystia wants to know more about:

    global financial imbalances — and what the Chinese are going to be saying to the Americans about that? global income inequality, Chrystia’s “obsession,” and is that going to be a theme, too?

One question remains, will Felix maintain his solidarity and allegiance to the underdog? Or will he have a “frisson”?

Cherchez La Femme at Davos

DAVOS/– Elisabeth Kelan is lecturer in the Department of Management at King’s College London. The opinions expressed are her own. –

The World Economic Forum (WEF) publishes insightful research on gender in business, the economy and politics. Every year, for instance, the WEF releases a Gender Gap Report that measures how countries are doing in regards to  gender equality.

This always stood in sharp contrast to the annual meeting in Davos itself, where spotting a female face in the crowd was easier said than done. It might come as a surprise (then again, it might not), but  one of the most influential meetings around the globe has so far taken place with minimal female involvement.

Celebrities and handshakes – is the WEF really working?

-Mark Kobayashi-Hillary is a British author, blogger, and advisor on technology, globalisation and corporate change, based in São Paulo, Brazil. The opinions expressed are his own.-

DAVOS AIDSThe World Economic Forum returns to Davos next week for the annual round of handshakes and backslapping between world leaders and A-list celebrities that aim to solve the major problems of the world. But when this blog (http://blogs.reuters.com/davos/2011/01/13/is-davos-still-relevant/) asked readers if the annual WEF meeting in Davos is still relevant, more than two-thirds of you said that times have changed and little will be achieved.

That seems a harsh judgement from the blog readers, so I asked my own network of online friends on Twitter (www.twitter.com/markhillary) and Facebook what they think.

Davos 2011: More people, fewer resources, big risk

Among the major issues global leaders will discuss at the upcoming annual World Economic Forum in Davos are the risks associated with the tightening of water, food and energy resources to meet the demands of an increasing global population.

The three interrelated resources impact both global economic growth and geopolitical stability and the Forum’s Global Risks 2011 report warns that “any strategy that focuses on one part of the water-food-energy nexus without considering its interconnections risks serious unintended consequences.”

Three recent news stories illustrate the risks associated with these precious resources.