Davos Notebook

Shared norms, soccer pundits and dealing with the ‘New Reality’

– Mark Kobayashi-Hillary is the author of several books, including ‘Who Moved my Job?’ and ‘Global Services: Moving to a Level Playing Field’. The opinions expressed are his own. –

And so the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos is underway once again. The theme this year is Shared Norms for the New Reality, which according to the WEF is: “…reflecting the fact that we live in a world that is becoming increasingly complex and interconnected but also experiencing an erosion of common values and principles.”

I think that means life is moving faster so we need to step back and review some basic principles, because some are struggling to keep up. At least that’s what I understand it to mean.

But, disregarding the headline purpose of the conference, the really interesting story I am noticing as the WEF gets underway is that partners – or sponsors in more direct language – have been asked to bring at least one woman in their delegation. In 2010, just 16% of attendees in Davos were women and the WEF wants to see that figure going up.

But this is a club for presidents and company executives and fewer than 3 percent of the Fortune Global 500 chief executives are women and less than 20 of the world’s presidents or prime ministers are female. It’s no wonder that Davos is overrun with men in unimaginative dark suits sheltering from the cold.

Global Development crashes the Davos party

Joe Cerrell– Joe Cerrell is Director of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, European Office. The opinions expressed are his own. –

It used to be that sometime in the fall, around October, advocates for international development would gather and talk about the year ahead, including big events in the cultural and political calendar that could be used to draw attention to the plight of the world’s poorest.  Inevitably, there would be talk of the G8 and sometimes the World Cup, and another event – the World Economic Forum – would also feature as an important opportunity to get development onto the global agenda.

What greater coup than to crash this gathering in Davos and try to get the titans of business, government and industry to pay attention to Africa.  Development activists like me used to talk about the necessity of engaging “non-traditional allies” on our causes, and there was no better place than the WEF to recruit these new voices.

How to feed a hungry Davos CEO

lunchFood is one of the key highlights of the World Economic Forum and Wednesday’s lunch brought taste from around the world to serve hungry CEOs, heads of states and policymakers who spend the morning discussing the outlook for the global economy and corporate profits.

From Russia, there were rolled mini-blinis filled with salmon tartar and chive cream and Solyanka pork stew. Assorted sushi and salmon sashimi represented taste of Japan (in this landlocked Switzerland).

Participants queued for crispy couscous balls with aubergine cavier and kibbeh saijeh — beef meatballs with pistachios and potato croquettes from Lebanon. They also enjoyed banana bread with avocado mash and fried bean balls in Ghana.

Be part of Davos Today with Chrystia Freeland

Chrystia Freeland headshotReuters has added an exciting new dimension to its Davos coverage this year. As well as Insider TV’s regular Davos Today morning show (streamed live on this website every morning at 7 a.m. CET during the annual meeting), there is now also an afternoon show to be broadcast at 2:30 p.m. on 26, 27 and 28 January.

Davos Today with Chrystia Freeland will feature many of the biggest names at Davos in discussion with Reuter’s Global Editor-at-Large. Topics range from China, India and the U.S. to Trust in Institutions, the Future of Finance and Failed States.

The guest list includes Larry Summers, Harvard professor and former U.S. Secretary, Bob Zoellick, President of the World Bank and Nouriel Roubini, professor of economics at New York University.

Me, Myself, I

How do I trust myself? Let me count the ways…

Global PR group Edelman told the World Economic Forum about its Trust Barometer and said that “Trust” in general had stabilised.

But that’s where the good news for me ended.

My industry, media, had a Trust tumble in the US and UK to small levels of trust never seen before – “How much do you trust media to do what is right?” The US is down to 27% and the UK 22%. Maybe I should try my hand at fiction instead!

There was a big Trust rise for media in China and Brazil but India had a big decline. Fascinating data but having spent many years pouring over Chinese newspapers a bit of a surprise to me.

Hudson pilot tells business leaders to look beyond short-term

USA/The U.S. pilot who safely landed a plane carrying 155 passengers on the Hudson River urged political and business leaders in Davos to look beyond short-term results to deliver long-term benefits.

Chesley Sullenberger III, former U.S. Airways pilot, is speaking at the World Economic Forum, as chief executive of Safety Reliability Methods. His sessions “Leadership under Pressure” and “Exploring the Extremes” are both fully subscribed.

Sullenberger told Reuters on the sidelines of the Forum that leaders must be prepared personally and professionally and have integrity.

CEOs hoping that everything comes up roses

CHINA-VALENTINE'S/A few things struck me from the annual survey of CEOs that PwC (yup, PricewaterhouseCoopers likes big ‘P’, little ‘w’, big ‘C’) released at Davos this year.

The most obvious was that 48 percent said they were “very confident” of growth in the next 12 months – up from 31 percent last year. Pre-crash confidence again!

But I have to say, I wondered a bit about their crystal ball when 37 percent said they planned to shift sourcing to China — with cost being the most cited reason. With inflation looming and currency moves almost certain, that isn’t necessarily a bet I’d make. There are plenty of reasons to go to China — and I’ve staked my career on it since 1979 — but cost isn’t top of my list in 2011.

Davos: Can social media make a difference?

The Davos meeting organisers have made a huge push into social media this year. From interviews on Facebook to geo-location services using Foursquare, it’s an impressive use of social media tools to bring the closed-shop that is the WEF to the masses.

In the video clip below, Reuters correspondent and Davos veteran Ben Hirschler shares his thoughts on the impact this will have on this year’s WEF.

“They’ve made a big effort to show their involvement with the outside world,” he says. “The question is… to what extent is this just PR eye-wash and to what extent is it something serious?”

Davos fails to grab the attention of angry protesters

The days when anti-capitalist protesters could rampage through Switzerland’s financial capital Zurich in rage at the Davos talkfest 100 miles (150 km) to the east are long gone.

A couple of hundred anti-globalisation activists managed to rally in the nearby town of St. Gallen on Saturday against the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum opening this week. Braving a vicious north-east wind, they assembled near the station then marched peacefully through the centre of town, barely disrupting the good burghers as they went about their weekend shopping. At the front of the demo a large red banner proclaimed: “Take the future from the capitalists – Smash the WEF”.

The mostly young demonstrators pulled a cart festooned with anti-capitalist slogans, and beat drums and lit crackers to keep time. The march went off peacefully.

Why “generation next” matters at Davos

trevor dougherty lowres– Trevor Dougherty is a student and activist and will attend the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos as a representative of the Global Changemakers. He’s also the youngest American ever to attend the Davos meeting. —

Most of the sessions at the WEF’s annual conference in Davos will focus on the future, and how it can be bettered, so, naturally, a topic of discussion is the “next generation.” How will their consumption patterns change? How will they contribute to society? How will they use technology? How will they lead?

Among the Davos crowd, better known for its executives and politicians, is a group of people who can offer real insight to these questions. They possess a profound knowledge of “kids these days,” because, drum roll please, that is exactly what they are. Meet the British Council’s Global Changemakers, five teenagers selected from five different countries to represent young people at the World Economic Forum. My name is Trevor, and I am one of them.