The world is changing at an unprecedented pace with profound implications. In global governance, the balance of power between nation states and the international framework that managed it in the last century are frayed. The worst refugee crisis in living memory is just one reminder of how geostrategic competition, renewed regionalism and new antagonists are eroding global solidarity.

On the economic front, this century began with a global growth rate of roughly 5 percent whereby GDP doubled every 15 years and enabled billions of people to escape poverty in just one generation. In the aftermath of the global financial crisis, “normal growth” is expected to hover at around 3 percent, with considerable consequences for job creation and social inclusion as global GDP, in this new scenario, doubles only every 24 years.

Adding to a shared sense of uncertainty is the emergence of a fourth Industrial Revolution that is distinct in its transformation of entire systems of production, distribution and consumption as opposed to a product or an industry. Concern is growing about the effects of digital disintermediation, advanced robotics and the sharing economy on productivity growth, job creation and purchasing power. It is clear that the millennial generation will experience greater technological change over the next decade than the past 50 years, leaving no aspect of global society undisturbed. Scientific and technological breakthroughs — from artificial intelligence to precision medicine — are poised to transform our human identity. Therefore, leaders from all walks of life must prepare for a future of exponentially disruptive change.

Mastering the Fourth Industrial Revolution is now a global imperative. This theme drives the design of the sessions, task forces and private meetings at the Annual Meeting 2016. The World Economic Forum Annual Meeting provides an unparalleled platform for co-design, co-creation and collaboration for global leaders from across business, government, international organizations, academia and civil society to advance multiple agendas including:

The global agenda

To improve global governance through public-private cooperation by working in close collaboration with key international organizations and providing substantial, yet informal, input into major multilateral processes

The geosecurity agenda

To convene public and private sector leaders together with defense and intelligence experts in preparation for a rapidly changing security landscape

The economic agenda

To support multistakeholder efforts to deliver sustainable and inclusive economic growth in the face of slowing growth rates, increasing market volatility and looming global risks

The regional and national agenda

To examine in depth the social and economic transformations occurring in all regions of the world through informal interaction with over 250 political leaders on trade and investment-related issues in various national and regional contexts

The industry and business agenda

To shape the evolution of industry ecosystems and business models, particularly in the context of scientific, technological and policy innovations, by engaging industry leaders with their peers from government

The future agenda

To share ideas, innovations and discoveries that will reshape the world by engaging those at the vanguard of change from such fields as the arts, media, medicine, science and technology, as well as the next generation of future leaders

The World Economic Forum was recognized in 2015 as the International Organization for Public-Private Cooperation by the Federal Council of Switzerland. Deeply conscious of the responsibility that comes with such recognition, the Annual Meeting 2016 will bring together leaders who have the power to make change, achieve mutual understanding and, where appropriate, push action forward. The aim is to create a new type of international organization that acts as a trusted bridge builder between the public sector, business and civil society and serves as a strategic platform to shape and develop global, regional and industry agendas at the beginning of the year.

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Text excerpted from the WEF website.


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