In remarks at the opening session of the 44th World Economic Forum Annual Meeting, the Forum’s Founder and Executive Chairman, Klaus Schwab, called on participants to put human values at the centre of their deliberations.
“Values are important because we want to live up to the World Economic Forum’s commitment to improving the state of the world,” he said.
The Annual Meeting 2014 is taking place from 22 to 25 January 2014 under the theme, The Reshaping of the World: Consequences for Society, Politics and Business. Participating this year are over 2 500 leaders from nearly 100 countries, including 300 public figures, 1 500 business leaders and representatives from civil society, academia, the media and arts.
At the opening session, Hilde Schwab, Chairperson and Co-Founder of the Schwab Foundation for Social Entrepreneurship, presented the 2014 Crystal Awards, which honour artists who use their “creativity to push the limits and show us new ways of living our professional and personal lives.
“The arts are probably the best language of the heart,” Klaus Schwab remarked.
This year, the Forum recognized three exceptional cultural leaders: the Academy Award-winning actor and humanitarian Matt Damon, leading opera tenor Juan Diego Flórez and artist and film-maker Shirin Neshat.
“For me, ensuring that every human being has access to safe water and the dignity of a toilet – two incredibly basic and inextricably linked requirements for survival – is one of the most urgent and pressing causes in the world today,” said Damon.
“The good news is that there are solutions that work. I’m convinced that we can overcome the global water crisis in our lifetime.”
Flórez, who founded the Sinfonía por el Perú foundation, which created a network of orchestras and choirs to help vulnerable youth, said that music is a powerful vehicle for change. “Sinfonia por el Perú reminds me every day of how music has changed not only my life but also the lives of thousands of children, offering them a new future full of hope,” he told participants.
Neshat, a film-maker noted for her work in the fields of gender, power and displacement, said: “My art has stemmed from a desire to bridge deeply personal issues with critical social, political, historical issues that concern the world that I inhabit.”
At this year’s Annual Meeting, the Forum welcomes more than 35 distinguished artists and cultural leaders, including:
– David Adjaye, Architect, Adjaye/Associates, United Kingdom
– Bono, Lead Singer of U2 and Co-Founder, ONE campaign and (RED), ONE, United Kingdom
– Thomas Campbell, Director and Chief Executive Officer, Metropolitan Museum of Art, USA
– James Cuno, President and Chief Executive Officer, J. Paul Getty Trust, USA
– Matt Damon, Actor and Co-Founder Water.org, USA; Crystal Awardee 2014
– Olafur Eliasson, Artist, Studio Olafur Eliasson, Germany; Young Global Leader Alumnus
– Juan Diego Flórez, Tenor and Founder, Sinfonía por el Peru, Peru; Crystal Awardee 2014
– Peter B. Gabriel, Founder, Real World, United Kingdom
– Goldie Hawn, Actress, Producer, Author and Founder, The Hawn Foundation, USA
– Mathieu Jaton, Chief Executive Officer, Montreux Jazz Festival, Switzerland
– Shirin Neshat, Artist, USA; Crystal Awardee 2014
– Martin Roth, Director, Victoria and Albert Museum, United Kingdom
– Elif Shafak, Writer, Turkey
– Anant Singh, Producer, Videovision Entertainment, South Africa
– Marc Spiegler, Director, Art Basel, Switzerland; Global Agenda Council on the Role of the Arts in Society