World Economic Forum meet opens with Pope’s message, heavy snow


Davos: The annual World Economic Forum (WEF) meet of the rich and the powerful began here today with a special message from Pope Francis being read out at the opening ceremony.

WEF Founder and Executive Chairman Klaus Schwab declared the summit open amid the ski-resort receiving record snowfall.

Schwab welcomed members from business, politics, academia and media as well as the first timers with a round of applause.

He also said all are here despite such weather as “we are all part of a community”.

“Participants are here because they are part of a multi- stakeholder community. No stakeholder alone can address the complex global agenda effectively,” Schwab said.

He also invoked the spirit of Davos and asked everyone to come not only with their brain but with their soul and heart.

The Pope passionately called upon participants to overcome fragmentation between states and institutions and work together to facilitate more inclusive approaches in an increasingly globalised world.

In a speech delivered by Cardinal Peter Kodwo Appiah Turkson, Prefect of the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development, Pope Francis said, “It is vital to safeguard the dignity of the human person, in particular by offering to all people real opportunities for integral human development and by implementing economic policies that favour the family”.

He also applauded the summit’s theme ‘Creating a Shared Future in a Fractured World’.

Railway Minister Piyush Goyal, Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu, Reliance Industries Chairman Mukesh Ambani, PepsiCo CEO Indra Nooyi and IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde, among others, were present.

The winners of WEF’s Crystal awards — cine star Shah Rukh Khan, music icon Elton John and Hollywood actor Cate Blanchett — were also in attendance.

 More than 3,000 world leaders from business, politics, art, academia and civil society would be participating in the summit and the the Indian presence is the largest ever with over 130 participants.

The official sessions would begin on Tuesday when Prime Minister Narendra Modi would deliver the ‘opening plenary’, during which he is expected to pitch India as an open economy that is ready for investments and also as a major engine to drive the global economic growth.

Modi is the first Indian Prime Minister to attend Davos meeting in about 20 years since H D Deve Gowda in 1997.