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Last Updated: Wednesday, 24 January 2007, 07:53 GMT
Green agenda for global leaders
By Tim Weber
Business Editor, BBC News website, Davos

Bono and Chancellor Angela Merkel in Davos in 2006
Davos is attracting the powerful and the famous
Climate change, the rise of Asia and the next web revolution will dominate the agenda when the World Economic Forum starts on Wednesday in Davos.

The five-day talking shop in the Swiss Alps brings together business leaders, politicians and campaigners, among them Bill Gates, Tony Blair and Bono.

More than 30 trade ministers will meet on the sidelines in the hope of reviving stalled global trade talks.

Davos attracts 2,400 participants from 90 countries.

They will discuss the geopolitical changes that have resulted in an "increasingly schizophrenic world" that is "harder and harder to understand", said the forum's founder Professor Klaus Schwab.

The principal dilemma of the world is how to stop the processes of impoverishment
John Stewart, Nairobi

Participants can expect a daily reminder of what global warming could mean: usually the Davos valley is buried under a metre or two of snow at this time of year, but until Tuesday the mild winter left the hills mostly green.

Overnight there has been some snow, but it compares poorly to the huge amount of snow that participants have come to expect.

Big politics, big business

Many of the forum's key events will focus on big politics, like the war in Iraq and the fight against terrorism.

Angelina Jolie at Davos 2006
Last year participants were dazzled by Angelina Jolie

German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who is currently holding both the chair of the G8 group of top industrialised nations and the presidency of the European Union, is expected to outline her international agenda.

Most of the sessions, however, cater to the needs of company bosses, who will tackle topics like activist investment funds, the recent commodities boom and the rise of new internet technologies.

Among the business leaders at this year's World Economic Forum will be the bosses of more than 70 of the world's 100 largest companies.

They will be joined by technology pioneers, social entrepreneurs running not-for-profit companies, and campaigners from organisations like Greenpeace, Oxfam and Islamic Relief.

Dimmed star power

This year's Davos will suffer from a distinct lack of showbiz glamour.

Avatar of WEF founder Professor Klaus Schwab
The WEF's founder will appear in virtual online world Second Life
At the past two Davos events, participants and photographers clustered around mega stars like Angelina Jolie, Brad Pitt, Michael Douglas and Sharon Stone.

This time the forum is kept more low key. Supermodel Claudia Schiffer and rock star and anti-poverty campaigner Bono are two of the few stars sharing the limelight.

Instead, the forum is trying to find new digital fans, with Professor Schwab due to make an appearance in the virtual online world Second Life.

Davos is also trying to open up to the general public, not only encouraging participants to blog, but also inviting people around the world to quiz world leaders by sending a question via webcam to the forum.

Tight security

That, however, is probably the closest that the public will get to the movers and shakers in Davos.

As always, security is tight, with thousands of police and soldiers guarding the remote mountain valley. The Swiss air force is already enforcing a no-fly zone.

Because of the tight controls on access to Davos, there have been few demonstrations by anti-globalisation protestors in the mountain resort itself.

However, critics of the forum have called for "creative and direct action" across Switzerland on Saturday, 27 January.

Lack of faith

World Economic Forum logo
2,400 participants from 90 countries come to Davos

The official theme of the Davos event is "The shifting power equation", and the forum's agenda suggests that this is happening across all aspects of our life.

Globalisation is changing our economies; terrorism, wars, oil politics and the rise of Asia are shifting geopolitics; technology - and especially the internet - is transforming societies in East and West, North and South; and companies need to understand how to run their business and engage consumers in the connected world.

All that change creates uncertainties, the organisers say, and is reflected in the results of a survey commissioned by the World Economic Forum. Around the world people are losing faith in their leaders.

Politicians are the least trusted leaders, with business leaders everywhere getting better marks from the 55,000 people surveyed in 60 countries.

Still, 40% of those surveyed believe that the next generation will be better off, while just 31% believe their children will be in a worse position.

The founder of the World Economic Forum speaks out

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