What is the theme of WEF Davos 2016?

The annual meeting between business and government leaders takes place next week.

FILE: The Annual Meeting programme comprises over 250 sessions of which over 100 sessions will be webcast live. Picture: AFP

JOHANNESBURG - Over 2,500 leaders from business, government, international organisations, civil society, academia, media and the arts will participate in the 46th Annual Meeting of the World Economic Forum in Switzerland from 20 to 23 January.

The theme of the Meeting is 'Mastering the Fourth Industrial Revolution'.

Earlier Industrial Revolutions advanced human progress through new forms of power generation, mass production and information processing.

Klaus Schwab, Founder and Executive Chairman of the World Economic Forum, says there are many challenges in the world today.

"I feel that one of the most intense and impactful will be shaping the 'Fourth Industrial Revolution' driven by the speed, the breadth and the complete 'systems innovation' of technological change underway."

He says challenges are as daunting as the opportunities are compelling.

"We must have a comprehensive and globally-shared understanding of how technology is changing our lives and that of future generations, transforming the economic, social, ecological and cultural contexts in which we live."

He says this is critical in order to shape our collective future to reflect our common objectives and values.

Central questions that will be asked of the Fourth Industrial Revolution include:

  • How will it transform industry sectors, including health, mobility, financial services and education?

  • How can technology be deployed in ways that contribute to inclusive growth rather than exacerbate unemployment and income inequality?

  • How can breakthroughs in science and technology help in solving problems of the global commons from climate change to public health?

  • How will emerging technologies transform the global security landscape?

  • How can governments build institutions capable of making decisions when the challenges they face are more complex, fast-moving and interconnected than ever before?

Taking a formative role in shaping the discussion at the Annual Meeting 2016 will be Co-Chairs:

  • Mary Barra, Chief Executive Officer, General Motors, USA

  • Sharan Burrow, Secretary-General, International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC), Belgium

  • Satya Nadella, Chief Executive, Microsoft, USA

  • Hiroaki Nakanishi, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Hitachi, Japan

  • Tidjane Thiam, Chief Executive Officer, Credit Suisse, Switzerland

  • Amira Yahyaoui, Founder and Chair, Al Bawsala and Global Shaper of the Tunis Hub

Other participants include recognised leaders from other Forum communities, including Global Shapers, the Schwab Foundation for Social Entrepreneurship, Young Global Leaders and Technology Pioneers.

The Annual Meeting programme comprises over 250 sessions of which over 100 sessions will be webcast live.

As well as generating ideas and solutions to help shape global, regional and industry agendas, the programme will also support the Forum's work in harnessing public-private cooperation in nine key challenge areas.