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World Economic Forum Annual Meeting 2005 in Davos: world leaders urged to "Take Responsibility for Tough Choices"

19 January 2005 - Geneva, Switzerland

The World Economic Forum today released details on this year’s Annual Meeting in Davos, including the key participants, themes and goals. The Meeting, taking place from 26 to 30 January, is being held under the theme “Taking Responsibility for Tough Choices”.

Speaking at the press conference at the World Economic Forum’s headquarters in Geneva, Founder and Executive Chairman Professor Klaus Schwab said, “We find ourselves at a crucial moment for the world and its leaders. There are a number of new beginnings, from the new Presidency of the European Commission, to the election of a new President for the Palestinian Authority, to the coming elections in Iraq, to the new leadership in Ukraine. Leaders from all sectors of society will come to Davos this year to work on ways to consolidate and build on these new beginnings to improve the state of the world. What is needed is ‘pragmatic optimism’, the resolve to work with the world we have, to make a world as it should be.”

Over the course of the five-day Meeting, more than 2,250 participants from 96 countries will convene in Davos, including more than 20 heads of state or government, 70 cabinet ministers, 26 religious leaders, 15 union leaders and more than 50 heads of non-governmental organizations. Around 50% of the participants are business leaders drawn principally from the Forum's members – 1,000 of the foremost companies from around the world and across all economic sectors.

The opening session of the Annual Meeting 2005 will be a major innovation, the Global Town Hall, which is an interactive plenary session designed to bring diverse people, voices and viewpoints together around the Annual Meeting’s theme. The objective is for participants to focus on the toughest challenges facing us and to prioritize the six issues that should be at the top of the global agenda in 2005. The results of the opening Town Hall will be integrated into the relevant sessions in the official programme.

“The Town Hall allows the Annual Meeting to react to even the most recent changes on the global agenda, and to refocus as events change. It also allows us to draw more effectively on the huge expertise we have from all the participants gathered at the Annual Meeting,” said Ged Davis, Managing Director, Centre for Strategic Insight. “The innovation will further improve the way we work – however, the key question facing each one of us this year, as every year, is how and to what extent we will take responsibility for moving the global agenda forward in the broader interests of improving the state of the world.”

Key Participants of the Annual Meeting 2005

The Co-Chairs
William H. Gates, Co-Founder, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation; Chairman and Chief Software Architect, Microsoft Corporation
N. R. Narayana Murthy, Chairman of the Board and Chief Mentor, Infosys Technologies
Lubna S. Olayan, Chief Executive Officer, Olayan Financing Company
Charles O. Prince, Chief Executive Officer, Citigroup
John A. Thain, Chief Executive Officer, New York Stock Exchange
Daniel Vasella, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Novartis

Among the heads of state/government and other public figures: Shaukat Aziz, Prime Minister of Pakistan; Jose Manuel Barroso, President of the European Commission; Marek Belka, Prime Minister of Poland; Joseph R. Biden, Senator from Delaware, USA; Kjell Magne Bondevik, Prime Minister of Norway; Masoumeh Ebtekar, Vice-President of the Islamic Republic of Iran; Mohamed M. ElBaradei, Director-General, International Atomic Energy Agency; Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Prime Minister of Turkey; Bill Frist, Senator from Tennessee, USA; Orrin G Hatch, Senator from Utah, USA; John Howard, Prime Minister of Australia; Huang Ju, Executive Vice Premier, State Council, People's Republic of China; Vaclav Klaus, President of the Czech Republic; Aleksander Kwasniewski, President of Poland; Patrick J Leahy, Senator from Vermont, USA; Lee Jong-Wook, Director-General, WHO; Jean Lemierre, President, European Bank of Reconstruction and Development; Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, President of Brazil; Thabo Mbeki, President of South Africa; John McCain, Senator from Arizona, USA; Benjamin William Mkapa, President of Tanzania; Amre Moussa, Secretary-General, League of Arab States, Ahmed Mahmoud Nazif, Prime Minister of Egypt; Olusegun Obasanjo, President of Nigeria; Bill Owens, Governor of Colorado, USA; Anders Fogh Rasmussen, Prime Minister of Denmark; Mikheil Saakashvili, President of Georgia; Samuel Schmid, President of the Swiss Confederation and Federal Councillor of Defence; Gerhard Schröder, Federal Chancellor of Germany; Richard C. Shelby, Senator from Alabama, USA; Gordon H. Smith, Senator from Oregon, USA; John E Sununu, Senator from New Hampshire, USA; Vaira Vike-Freiberga, President of Latvia; President Victor A. Yushenko, President of Ukraine.

From the world of business: Josef Ackermann, Chairman of the Group Executive Committee, Deutsche Bank; Daniel Bouton, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Société Générale; Peter Brabeck-Letmathe, Vice-Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Nestlé SA; Lord Browne of Madingley, Group Chief Executive, BP; Antony Burgmans, Chairman, Unilever; René Carron, Chairman, Crédit Agricole; John T. Chambers, President and Chief Executive Officer, Cisco Systems Inc.; Michael S. Dell, Chairman of the Board, Dell Inc.; Thierry Desmarest, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Total; Carly Fiorina, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, HP; Niall FitzGerald, Chairman, Reuters; Raymond V. Gilmartin, Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer, Merck & Co.; Walter B. Kielholz, Chairman of the Board, Credit Suisse Group; Sergio Marchionne, Chief Executive Officer, Fiat; Henry A. McKinnell, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Pfizer Inc.; Marilyn C. Nelson, Chair and Chief Executive Officer, Carlson Companies Inc.; Marcel Ospel, Chairman, UBS AG; James W. Owens, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Caterpillar Inc.; Heinrich von Pierer, Chairman of the Supervisory Board; Siemens AG; Bernd Pischetsrieder, Chairman of the Board of Management, Volkswagen AG; Kai-Uwe Ricke, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Deutsche Telekom AG; Anthony Ruys, Chairman of the Executive Board, Heineken NV; Arun Sarin, Chief Executive Officer, Vodafone Group Plc; James J. Schiro, Chief Executive Officer, Zurich Financial Services; Louis Schweitzer, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Renault SAS; Paul Skinner, Chairman, Rio Tinto Plc; George Soros, Chairman, Soros Fund Management; Peter D. Sutherland, Chairman, Goldman Sachs International; Carl-Henrik Svanberg, President and Chief Executive Officer, Ericsson, Sweden; Junichi Ujiie, Chairman, Nomura Holdings Inc.; Jeroen van der Veer, Chief Executive, Royal Dutch/Shell Group of Companies; Ben J. Verwaayen, Chief Executive Officer, BT Plc; Klaus P. Zumwinkel, Chairman of the Board of Management, Deutsche Post World Net.

Commenting on the strong business participation this year, Peter Torreele, Managing Director, Community Development and Marketing at the World Economic Forum, said, “This year, as every year, the Annual Meeting will have a strong business component. With more than 500 chairmen and CEOs form the world’s leading companies, and more than 120 companies from the Fortune 500 actively taking part, the Annual Meeting once again will allow business to play a key role in shaping the global agenda.”

Among the more than 50 non-governmental and international organizations participating in the Annual Meeting: Seth Berkley, President and Chief Executive Director, International Aids Vaccine Initiative, USA; Denis Caillaux, Secretary-General, Care International, Belgium; Peter Eigen, Chariman of the Board Transparency International, Germany; Irene Khan, Secretary-General, Amnesty International, United Kingdom; Claude Martin, Director-General, WWF, Switzerland; Kumi Naidoo, Secretary-General and Chief Executive Officer, Civicus: World Alliance for Citizen Participation, South Africa; Barbara Stocking, Director, Oxfam GB, United Kingdom.

Richard Feachem, Executive Director, Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria; Jakob Kellenberger, President, International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC); Lee Jong-Wook, Director-General, World Health Organisation (WHO); Peter Piot, Executive Director, Joint United Nations Programme on HIVE/AIDS(UNAIDS);

Top Labour Leaders include Sharan Burron, President, Australian Council of Trade Unions, Australia, and newly-elected President of the International Confederation of Free Trade Unions; Philip J. Jennings, General Secretary, Union Network International, Switzerland; Fackson U. Shamenda, Honorary President, Zambia Congress of Trade Unions, Zambia; John J. Sweeney, President, American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations, USA.

Personalities from the cultural world coming to Davos include Bono, Musician, DATA (Debt, AIDS and Trade in Africa), United Kingdom; Paulo Coelho, Author; Peter B. Gabriel, Musician, Real World, United Kingdom; Richard Gere, President, Gere Foundation, USA; Angelina Jolie, Goodwill Ambassador, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), Geneva; Lionel Richie, Musician, LBR Inc., USA; Sharon Stone, Actress and Producer, USA.

Representatives of the world’s media will also be represented at the Annual Meeting, with 15% of the participants drawn from media organizations around the world. Additionally, this year, members of the media will be invited to contribute to our weblog at http://www.forumblog.org.

Photos of our events can be downloaded free of charge for journalists at http://www.swiss-image.ch/worldeconomicforum (login required).


The World Economic Forum is the foremost global community of business, political, intellectual and other leaders of society committed to improving the state of the world.

Incorporated as a foundation, and based in Geneva, Switzerland, the World Economic Forum is impartial and not-for-profit; it is tied to no political, partisan or national interests. The Forum has NGO consultative status with the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations.(http://www.weforum.org)

For more information, please contact:

Communications and Public Affairs
World Economic Forum
Tel.: +41 (0) 22 869 1212
Fax: +41 (0) 22 869 1394
E-mail: public.affairs@weforum.org


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Last updated: 26 January 2005
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