DAVOS, Switzerland, Jan 24, 2007 (AFP) – The world’s business and political elite kicked off its annual retreat in Davos on Wednesday, with climate change and the Middle East riding high on the agenda — at least in public. The four-day gathering of movers and shakers in the Swiss ski resort boasted the usual impressive guest list, with delegates able to flit from a breakfast with Microsoft founder Bill Gates to an evening audience with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, via round-table talks with Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni.
The theme of this year’s World Economic Forum (WEF) meeting — “The Shifting Power Equation” — sought to take in everything from the growing geopolitical clout of Asia to the increasing influence of the Internet in business and information gathering.
“We have a shift of power in many ways … with the rise of China and India, and the next layer of countries like Vietnam, Brazil and Korea,” said WEF founder Klaus Schwab.
“At the same time we see the shift of power from business leaders to customers and shareholders,” Scwab said.
The 2,400 registered participants at Davos included 800 corporate chief executives or chairmen, 24 heads of state or government and 85 cabinet ministers.