Nick Buxton, Common Dreams - It’s hard to keep a straight face when the world’s rich arrive annually in their private jets to the luxury ski-resort of Davos to express their deep concern about growing poverty, inequality and climate change. US comedian Jon Stewart has labelled the World Economic Forum the ‘money oscars’ and lampooned the media’s giddy sycophantic coverage of the event; Bono, himself a regular at the summit, jokes that it is a summit of ‘fat cats in the snow’.
This year will be no different. 2500 corporate executives, politicians and a few Hollywood stars are expected to descend this week on Davos to discuss both the growing jitters about the faltering global economy as well as pontificate on the the official theme of the conference, namely the “fourth industrial revolution” (Think robots, AI and self-driving cars).
The real concern about the WEF, however, is not the personal hypocrisy of its privileged delegates. It is rather that this unaccountable invitation-only gathering is increasingly where global decisions are being taken and moreover is becoming the default form of global governance. There is considerable evidence that past WEFs have stimulated free trade agreements such as NAFTA as well helped rein in regulation of Wall Street in the aftermath of the financial crisis.
Less well known is the fact that WEF since 2009 has been working on an ambitious project called the Global Redesign Initiative, which effectively proposes a transition away from intergovernmental decision-making towards a system of multi-stakeholder governance. In other words, by stealth, they are replacing a recognized model where we vote in governments who then negotiate treaties which are then ratified by our elected representatives with a model where a self-selected group of ‘stakeholders’make decisions on our behalf.
The result is that we are increasingly entering a world where gatherings such as Davos are not laughable billionaire playgrounds, but rather the future of global governance