Skip to Content

Davos ’19 Preview: What is Globalization 4.0 and Who’s Attending?

The annual meeting known simply by its location — Davos — begins next week. Today we begin our preview of the gathering that claims to be “the only yearly gathering that brings together leaders of global society.”

This year’s theme is “Globalization 4.0: Shaping a Global Architecture in the Age of the Fourth Industrial Revolution.” As the World Economic Forum’s overview states:

“‘Transformation’ best describes the geopolitical, economic and environmental outlook globally. We are shifting from a world order based on common values to a ‘multiconceptual’ world shaped by competing narratives seeking to create a new global architecture…We are entering into a Fourth Industrial Revolution shaped by advanced technologies from the physical, digital and biological worlds that combine to create innovations at a speed and scale unparalleled in human history. Collectively, these transformations are changing how individuals, governments and companies relate to each other and the world at large. In short, we are fast approaching a new phase of global cooperation: Globalization 4.0.”

It sounds promising. But this “multiconceptual” is also marked by pertinent questions, including:

  • “Will the arrival of Globalization 4.0 result in our acknowledging these changes and working together to create new opportunities for humankind?”
  • “Or will globalization suffer from multiple geopolitical, economic and environmental crises that strain multilateral institutions and hinder efforts to collaborate towards a shared future?

5 Working Principles to Globalization 4.0

To outline the situation, the WEF has outlined five working principles:

1. Dialogue is critical and must be multistakeholder-based

2. Globalization must be responsible and responsive to regional and national concerns

3. International coordination must be improved in the absence of multilateral cooperation

4. Addressing the biggest global challenges requires the collaborative efforts of business, government and civil society

5. Global growth must be inclusive and sustainable

Trump Canceled; Who’s Attending Davos

Bloomberg reports that “Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and German Chancellor Angela Merkel will top the list of leaders attending the World Economic Forum’s annual meeting next week after the withdrawal of President Donald Trump.”

“The U.S. president canceled his trip to the annual gathering of global financial elites because of the government shutdown, which is now the longest in the nation’s history. The U.S. delegation will include Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.”

Also attending: “Brazil’s recently sworn-in President Jair Bolsonaro will attend, as will U2 frontman Bono and Britain’s Prince William. Goldman Sachs Group Inc. Chief Executive Officer David Solomon and hedge fund billionaire Ray Dalio will also be there.”

For China, the South China Morning Post reports that “China’s Vice-President Wang Qishan will lead the Chinese delegation at the World Economic Forum’s annual meeting…Wang, who has a reputation as China’s “firefighter” for his track record of handling Beijing’s most difficult tasks, has been cautiously stepping up on the diplomatic front.”

Mood at Davos: Dark

While last year’s meeting was marked by optimism over a burgeoning global economy, NPR notes that this year’s meeting carries a “darker mood.”

NPR: “The annual gathering of the World Economic Forum is happening at a time when many leaders are facing challenges to their might. That usually leads them to focus inward rather than outward, not something that the global elite wants to see.”

“The other overriding issue: The world economy is starting to look a little shaky. Even though the U.S. economy is still riding high — with low unemployment and employers on a hiring spree — some other parts of the globe aren’t looking so good. For instance, in the third quarter, the economies of eurozone powerhouse Germany and also the world’s third-largest economy Japan had contracted. Then last week, Apple starkly warned of weak iPhone sales and this week, rival Samsung said profits will fall by nearly a third, stoking fears over the health of the global economy and the effects of the bruising trade battle between the U.S. and China. All this has rattled financial markets greatly.”