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WEF founder and chairman Klaus Schwab told the media on Wednesday that established systems of governance and business are in urgent need of a radical overhaul.
“Capitalism, in its current form, no longer fits the world around us,” Schwab said. “We have failed to learn the lessons from the financial crisis of 2009. A global transformation is urgently needed and it must start with reinstating a global sense of social responsibility.”
“We are looking desperately around the world for people who can offer solutions,” he added. “We are in danger of losing the confidence of future generations.”
Leading actors from the worlds of business, politics, civil society, religion, academia and science will take to the stage in Davos from January 25 to 29 under the banner: The Great Transformation – Shaping New Models.
The world is also facing a series of other potential crises, according the WEF’s annual risk report. These range from a volcanic winter to large scale cyber-attacks that could cripple companies or even governments.
But although the problems are well known, Schwab believes the established leadership models are not up to the job of guiding the world out of its current mess.
“Many people have lost trust in leadership and increasingly perceive life primarily in terms of hardship. The question is: what can we do and what should we do,” said Schwab at the media conference held in WEF’s headquarters near to Geneva on Wednesday.
A new system of leadership would share more power, encourage greater religious tolerance and create more sustainable jobs while removing income inequality, according to Schwab.
The world's political and business elite will shelter from the chill winds buffeting the global economy and plot a new path for capitalism at the annual Davos forum which begins Wednesday.
But it is the title of the debates which catches the eye as much as the participants with the first posing the question: "Is 20th Century Capitalism Failing 21st Century Society?"
Other discussions scheduled include 'Fixing Capitalism', 'Has Globalisation Reached its Economic and Political Limits?' and 'How Will the Eurozone Countries Emerge from the Eurozone Crisis?'.
According to Klaus Schwab, the founder and organiser of Davos, this year's meeting will focus on how to develop a new world modelas "capitalism in its current form, has no place in the world around us."
"The danger for the world is that the political leadership is overwhelmed," Schwab said on Tuesday evening as he welcomed delegates.
"Maybe what we have here is a kind of burnout," added Schwab who founded the forum 42 years ago.
A major survey released on the eve of the summit highlighted how business leaders have little faith in politicians turning things around in the immediate future.
A survey of 1,258 bosses by accountancy firm PricewaterhouseCoopers, timed to coincide with the World Economic Forum of the global business elite, found 48 percent expect economic decline and only 15 percent growth this year.