Davos Notebook

Let’s end world hunger

Last year was a milestone year for raising awareness and advancing a global dialogue about the challenge of doubling food production by 2050 to combat hunger and malnutrition and meet the needs of a fast-growing population. Recent attention paid to the birth of the 7 billionth human on earth did much to help drive this global conversation. But looking ahead to 2012 and beyond, our challenge – in fact our imperative – must be to translate this momentum into action.

In 2000, the United Nations member states, together with international organizations, challenged the world to come together to address the Millennium Development Goals, first among them being the eradication of extreme poverty and hunger. We now have but three short years remaining to meet these goals. While much has been debated about the analytics and measurements driving the goals themselves, the simple, incontestable fact is that to thrive — and in many cases to survive — we as a global society must address poverty and hunger.

The two problems are inextricably linked. And we must come together – CEOs and NGOs, those focused on increasing productivity and those focused on environmental sustainability – if we are to have any hope of being successful.

According to the World Food Program, hunger is the number one health risk in the world, killing more people than malaria, AIDS and tuberculosis combined. By 2050 there will be 9.5 billion people living on earth. Today, nearly 1 billion people are already suffering from hunger and malnutrition in some of the fastest growing regions of the world. The challenge of doubling food production by 2050 will become more difficult as key resources become increasingly scarce and a changing climate creates unforeseen obstacles.

There is broad-based support for tackling hunger, which has been a key point of discussion in leadership meetings including the G20 and the World Economic Forum as well as the United Nations General Assembly meetings. While we can point to significant strides in areas like combating malaria and access to education, the most recent Millennium Development Goals Report indicates that our progress in addressing hunger has plateaued, and may have worsened in some regions.

from Mohamed El-Erian:

Davos at a distance

I’ve never been to Davos, despite attempts by many over the years to persuade me to go. Don’t get me wrong. I understand that it is a special event for many people, and for many reasons. It is anchored by wide-ranging and engaging agendas, and participants get to mingle with a global cornucopia of important people. It is also the place to see and be seen for heads of state, politicians, academics, thought-leaders, media pundits, CEOs, and movie stars.

The annual meeting of the World Economic Forum in that intimate setting remains one of the year’s hottest tickets, but its organizers want their event to be much more than what it currently is—a big, prestigious talk-shop. They want it to influence policy at the national, regional, and global levels.

Yet, over the years, and in the context of an increasingly unsettled and uncertain world, Davos has not had much impact.

from Felix Salmon:

Chris Hayes on fractal inequality at Davos

from Breakingviews:

Euro zone crisis may be close to resolution

By Hugo Dixon
The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.

DAVOS, Switzerland -- The euro zone crisis may be close to resolution. There is certainly optimism among policymakers at the World Economic Forum in Davos that a comprehensive deal -- involving more discipline by peripheral nations and more help from rich nations -- could be put together in coming weeks. If so, the hot phase of the crisis could be over and even Greece would have a fighting chance of getting out of the woods.

There is still no deal. But the stars seem to be coming into alignment. Germany, the zone's paymaster, clearly realises that it has a strong interest in the single currency holding together -- and will do what is needed to make that happen. Peripheral nations also seem to be willing to go an extra mile to give Berlin enough air cover to sell further help to the German people.

Is Davos toxic? (for your health)

This is part of a series written by Anya Schiffrin, author of “Bad News,” and the wife of Nobel Prize Winner Joseph Stiglitz. The opinions expressed are her own.

This morning at the Davos coffee bar I was, as usual, tucking into the stale Danish, when I spotted a Davos Wife (easily identifiable by the infamous white name tag) drinking a cup of green tea. My companion, a Glamorous Davos Girlfriend (GDG) (my husband was, of course at a meeting) congratulated her on her healthy choice.

“I am trying to detox because of all the crap I have been eating,” came the pithy reply.

from Felix Salmon:

Wine list of the day, Davos edition

The prize for most obnoxious party at Davos was won on the first night, with the Davos Tasting put on by the Wine Forum.

Wine tasting was historically one of the more interesting and enjoyable events that was put on at Davos, but it got nixed in 2009 when conspicuous consumption of first-growth clarets was considered inappropriate in the face of the global financial crisis. The consequence was much the same as attempts to cap CEO salaries: just as the executives end up making much more money through stock options, the wine tasters, freed from whatever decorum was imposed upon them by the official constraints of the World Economic Forum, showed just how out-of-control wine events can really be.

The plutocrats at Davos, of course, both western and eastern, are exactly the kind of people who spend thousands of dollars a bottle on fine wines. But they're also driven and single-minded executives who naturally gravitate to the obvious and middlebrow in other areas: if they're buying art, they'll plump for something shiny by Damien Murakoons (both Hirst and Koons are in Davos this week), while the big-name creative types here are the likes of Jose Carreras, Peter Gabriel, and Paulo Coelho.

Davos and the never-ending Doha round

This year’s World Economic Forum offers not one but two meetings of trade ministers on the never-ending Doha round. Besides the traditional Saturday lunch hosted by Switzerland on Saturday, this year featuring 26 ministers plus WTO chief Pascal Lamy, the EU is holding a dinner on Friday for the G7 – that’s the trade G7: Australia, Brazil, China, EU, India, Japan and USA.

The meetings may attract some interest as this year is seeing a renewed push to conclude the Doha round, now in its 10th year, after leaders of the G20 (that’s the financial G20 not the trade G20) said 2011 was a window of opportunity.

For those who think this might join a long list of missed deadlines, I offer this story from Jean-Pierre Lehmanne, founder of

from Felix Salmon:

Nick Clegg’s inaccessible press event

One of the big changes to the ecology of the Davos conference center this year, after its $37 million revamp, is that there's now a whole level at the top which is off-limits to the working press and accessible only to fully-fledged delegates with coveted white cards. There are a couple of conference rooms up there -- called Aspen 1 and Aspen 2 -- which is normally no big deal, given that the working press isn't allowed in to conference sessions anyway.

One thing which hasn't changed, however, is the way in which everybody bumps into everybody else in the conference center. Which is fine, just so long as you're not deliberately keeping a very low profile and trying to avoid the press. Like Nick Clegg, for instance, with his 7% approval rating.

And so today we have a rather hilarious double oxymoron. Nick Clegg is having a press event, where he'll be talking to Arthur Sulzberger; the email invite says that "sign-up is required as there are a limited number of seats available." That makes sense, given how everybody's wanting to talk to him right now. But then we're told that "the session is off-the-record," which is always disappointing, for a press event. And then we learn that it's in Aspen 1 -- it's been deliberately put in one of the two rooms which the working press can't get close to.

Emerging healthcare opportunities

By Joe Jimenez, CEO of Novartis. The opinions expressed are his own.

As the global economy begins to see signs of recovery, with momentum from emerging markets like China, Russia, India and Brazil driving recent economic gains, there is a lot of buzz about how companies can best capitalize on the new growth opportunities these markets can offer.

In fact, many of the sessions here at the World Economic Forum in Davos are focusing on ways to encourage innovation, enhance trade and drive growth in emerging markets. This year, it is extremely important that we discuss health care and economic imperatives at Davos.

Governments in emerging markets are increasing their commitment to expanding access to healthcare, but this is putting significant pressure on healthcare budgets. So we need to find ways to work together with government officials and key stakeholders in these markets to jointly address the evolving healthcare needs.

Can Europe rise to the China challenge?

– Dirk Jan van den Berg is President of Delft University of Technology, former chairman of the IDEA League of European Universities, and former Dutch ambassador to China and the UN. –

USA-CHINA/This year’s World Economic Forum comes at a moment in which a profound shift in global power from West to East is becoming unmistakable. In recent weeks, for instance, during Hu Jintao’s state visit to the U.S., China was unambiguously portrayed by the Obama administration as an equal, indispensable global partner with the United States.

One of the key achievements of the state visit was the historic extension to the US-China Agreement on Cooperation in Science and Technology, first signed by the two countries after relations were normalised in 1979. The agreement, which includes over 30 active protocols covering cooperation in areas ranging from agricultural science, renewable energy, and biomedical research, will thus continue to serve as a key framework driving bilateral economic growth well into the twenty first century.