World Leaders Discuss New Reality In Davos

Following the financial crisis and the rise of new big players on the global stage, the theme of this year’s meeting in the Alpine town of Davos is “Shared Norms for the New Reality,” reflecting a desire to ensure that major powers share common values.

Ahead of today’s opening, Klaus Schwab, founder and executive chairman of the event, laid out some of those new realities.

“Let’s take again the emergence of China, the emergence of India, represented here as never before. Let’s take the consequences of social media, how they impact even on politics. Let’s take the need for creating a situation where we deleverage again in our world,” he said. “Let’s take the whole notion of employment and unemployment particularly. All those are the issues and features of the new reality.”

Organizers said over 1,400 business leaders and more than 30 heads of state or government will take part in the discussions, joined by central bankers, and officials from international organizations, civil society, media, and academics.

High Security

The meeting is protected by tight security, which includes some 4,000 troops deployed on land and the closing of local airspace.

This year’s annual meeting will tackle issues ranging from the rise of India and China as global powers; anxieties about European debt, austerity, and joblessness; the risk of runaway inflation in fast-growing economies; and the failings of the global economic system — from poverty to inequality and environmental issues.

The World Economic Forum will also present its Risk Response Network, designed to help firms, governments, and international organizations deal better with interrelated risks facing the world.

In his interview with Reuters, Schwab said finding solutions to global problems needed an all-encompassing approach.

“The key in Davos is to discuss all those issues in the interdependent way, in a systemic way, because our world is still structured in a much too departmentalized format where you deal with trade issues in the WTO and health issues in the World Health Organization, but at the end all those issues are interrelated,” Schwab said.

The gathering is to feature a keynote address today by Russian President Dmitry Medvedev,

Medvedev postponed his planned arrival after a suspected suicide bombing at Moscow’s Domodedovo airport killed 35 people on January 24.The speech will give the president a global stage to send a message of defiance to the attackers, and showcase Russia’s investment opportunities.

AFP news agency reports that posters urging investors to “Increase your opportunities with Russia” have been plastered across key locations in Davos.French President Nicolas Sarkozy, whose country now holds the presidency of the Group of 20 economic powers, and German Chancellor Angela Merkel are also participating.

Aside form the official sessions, the forum is a chance to network, strike deals, and lobby.

American concerns over its trade imbalance with China and the value of the Chinese currency against the dollar are expected to be raised by U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner.

Reflecting the rebalancing of global power, organizers said that compared to a decade ago, Chinese representation is up five-fold and that from India is up four-fold.

The mood is expected to be more optimistic than in the past two years, with many expecting a boom in 2011 despite many risks which could derail recovery.

A CEO confidence survey for the event suggested that business confidence is nearly as strong as before the start of the global financial crisis.

The IMF expects emerging and developing economies to keep up brisk growth this year, although the organization warned against inflationary pressures rising, particularly from high food and energy prices.

compiled from agency reports