By Lesley-Anne Knight, Secretary General, Caritas internationalis
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Returning to Rome from Davos, I have mixed feelings about this year’s World Economic Forum. I have been encouraged by the discussions on values, which have featured prominently this year and have been the main focus of my contributions. It has been interesting to see how the business and finance communities have engaged with this topic. I have been pleased to spot at least one banker attending sessions at which I have spoken!
I have also been impressed with how participants have got behind the relief efforts for Haiti, encouraged to a large extent by President Bill Clinton.
The World Economic Forum is good at responding to crises, at identifying innovative solutions, at tackling new challenges – in the words of this year’s theme, at “rethinking, redesigning and rebuilding”. But what concerns me is that the old, chronic problems of the world – like poverty, for instance – should not be neglected.
Caritas Internationalis Secretary General Lesley-Anne Knight with Archbishop Marx (left) and Jim Wallis. Credit: Caritas
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By Lesley-Anne Knight, Secretary General of Caritas Internationalis
Last year at Davos an absence of values within society – and especially within the business world – was identified as a key contributory factor behind the global financial crisis. In the words of some commentators, it was as much a crisis of values as an economic crisis.
This year the focus on values has continued as participants seek to identify the values that are lacking in society and, more importantly, how they can be implemented.
As a part of this process, I was invited along with representatives of other world religions to contribute to a special publication entitled “Faith and the Global Agenda: Values for the Post Crisis Economy”. The publication was officially launched at a press conference in Davos on Thursday at which I was joined by fellow contributors the Archbishop of Munich, Dr Reinhard Marx; Jim Wallis, President and CEO of Sojourners; Justice Muhammad Taqi Usmani from Pakistan. The press conference was chaired by John J DeGioia President of Georgetown University who collaborated with the World Economic Forum in the production of the report.
Discussion on values was kicked off at a session on the opening day of the meeting in a forum on “Rethinking Values in the Post-Crisis World” which highlighted how individual economic incentives and short-term motivations had overwhelmed responsibility to the common good, eroding trust.
Caritas Internationalis Secretary General Lesley-Anne Knight talks to Catherine Bragg of OCHA and Bekele Geleta Secretary General of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies.
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By Lesley-Anne Knight, Secretary General, Caritas Internationalis
The theme of this year’s World Economic Forum annual meeting at Davos is “Rethink, Redesign and Rebuild”. When the theme was chosen many months ago, it was intended to refer to the changes that need to take place in order to meet the long-term global challenges of the future, but in the wake of the Haiti earthquake it has now taken on a new relevance.
Rethinking, redesigning and rebuilding are very much the priorities for Haiti. There is a clear consensus that as Haiti is rebuilt it must be rebuilt better and stronger and should never again be placed in a position of such vulnerability.
The programme at Davos has been hastily revised to accommodate a series of new sessions focused on Haiti and how governments, NGOs and the private sector can cooperate in meeting the short-term and long-term needs of the country.
On Wednesday afternoon I joined other NGO leaders and UN representatives at a press briefing to report on latest developments and urgent requirements for the relief operations. This was followed by an open session during which this information was shared with members of the business community keen to contribute.