Q: What’s the easiest way to become a champion when it looks like you’re the captain a losing team?
A: Go to an event where it’s on the marquee and bring home the T-shirt!
There are two natural resources-related panels on Sept. 11 (The Future of Energy and The Future of the Resource Industry), but neither the speakers nor the times are listed on the program. The day’s climax is a speech by Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao, whose Communist Party governs a country with an atrocious human rights record, where many of the citizens view the one-party, authoritarian state as a bullying force.
WEF in Tianjin is nicknamed “the Summer Davos” in reference to the Swiss town where the World Economic Forum meets every January. In 1992, NDP Premier Mike Harcourt and Finance Minister Glen Clark (the future premier who is unrelated to the current one), attended WEF in Davos. WEF even has a Centre for Public-Private Partnerships. Here is the WEF FAQ, which includes the following nutshell explanation for its activities:
“The World Economic Forum brings together leaders in business, politics and society for reflection and connection to generate ideas and proposals, bridging countries and cultures to address the issues affecting our world. We also bring the very best minds and experts to provide the necessary insight to allow leaders to make decisions that can bring about change for the better. Conferences like the Annual Meeting in Davos and regional summits are an occasion for leaders to outline major challenges and define strategies to address them.
But there are a few common elements. The WEF website’s media guidelines say the Plenary Hall, Davos and Lugano rooms are open to press and on the record, one-on-one sessions are open on a reservation basis, but “all other sessions are off the record… members of the reporting press are not allowed in these sessions.”
Some of the world’s biggest corporations are involved as partners of the WEF. Participation in the WEF allows the 100 “strategic partners” to gain business intelligence and promote their goods and services to potential new customers, including governments. Or, as the WEF website says:
“They believe in the power of multistakeholder interaction to drive positive change and work closely with the Forum to help shape the industry, regional and global agendas… Strategic Partners make a tangible impact on global issues and society by contributing to better policy-making, informing business decisions, sharing best practices and engaging stakeholders beyond commercial objectives.”
In January 2011, the Sunlight Foundation blog noted how the annual WEF in Davos is a haven for high-powered lobbying.
“Davos isn’t just a place where the wealthy, influential, and powerful get together to swap ideas. It’s also a place for the heads of business to lobby the most influential policy makers and regulators in a confined atmosphere.”
Don’t forget, the Tianjin version of WEF is called “the Summer Davos” by its promoters.
Some of the WEF partners are magnets for controversy:
Goldman Sachs, called “Government Sachs” and “Premier Theme Park of Finance” by the New York Post.
Clark will be familiar with WEF partner Accenture, which took over part of BC Hydro in a privatization deal brokered almost a decade ago by her 2011 BC Liberal leadership campaign backer and lobbyist Patrick Kinsella.
Various arms of Deutsche Post DHL, including Exel, were involved in price-fixing cartels, but the European Commission didn’t levy the company fines because it cooperated.
Deutsche Post DHL is the world’s leading mail and logistics services group. The Deutsche Post and DHL corporate brands represent a one-of-a-kind portfolio of logistics (DHL) and communications (Deutsche Post) services. The group provides its customers with easy-to-use standardized products as well as innovative and tailored solutions ranging from dialog marketing to industrial supply chains. About 470,000 employees in more than 220 countries and territories form a global network focused on service, quality and sustainability. With programmes in the areas of climate protection, disaster relief and education, the group is committed to social responsibility. In 2011, Deutsche Post DHL generated revenues of 53 billion euros. The postal service for Germany. The logistics company for the world.
Don’t be surprised if Deutsche Post DHL’s big-wigs and heavy-hitters are in Tianjin at WEF on Sept. 11, coinciding with Clark’s visit. The company announced in July an aggressive expansion in China and wants to derive a third of its business from China by 2017.
News and views on Vancouver 2010 (and beyond) from Bob Mackin.