It has been almost exactly three years since the beginning of the credit crunch. A collapse of the so called subprime mortgage lending in the US, the Northern Rock crisis in the UK and then, a cascade of bank failures and rescues after the Wall Street demise of Lehman Brothers and Bear Sterns …what distant names they now se. Now the bank bailouts appear to have converted themselves into Government financial crises in many countries. We are witness to an orgy of public spending cuts and we see the authorities in Europe struggling to keep the Euro afloat.
George Santayna, once said: «Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.» And perhaps the pertinence of the Spanish-American poet and philosopher’s often misquoted observation is more evident today than ever before. In 2009, many policy makers swore that the lessons of 1937 would not be forgotten and yet, only a few months down the line, evidence of significant global fiscal tightening accompanied by tightening though the banking system are reminiscent of that difficult year.
It isn’t over yet, this crisis, but where have we gotten to? This year’s Annual Meeting of the New Champions will certainly provide a platform to search for answers to this complex question as well as enabling discussion between public and private sector participants to taking a longer view than those of the daily headlines, and help to wipe clean a dangerously opaque and foggy windshield.
With this Special Issue of Swiss Style, our team of writers endeavored to extract from some 20 participants, their thoughts on the ongoing uncertain political and economic environment, the strategies they are implementing in their given sectors, their response to sustainability issues as well as their well thought through proposals for solutions on both regional and global level. Their inspiring and thought provoking opinions will prove of great value.
Most of those interviewed firmly believe that driving growth through sustainability is fundamental for global and national business competitiveness in the 21st century and, true to its mission of “Improving the State of the World”, the World Economic Forum has put together a programme which will focus on the means of increasing energy efficiency, lowering carbon emissions, developing green technology and rebuilding basic infrastructure. This, the fourth Meeting of the New Champions, also aims to provide a systemic overview of key economic, industry and technological developments that will reshape business and society for the foreseeable future.
If the most famous philosopher of all were alive today, he might find Tianjin remarkably similar to his own Athens of the fifth century BC. I am sure that your participation at this year’s meeting there will lead you to a breading-ground of infectious reflection much akin to Socratic dialectic for the betterment of the world!