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28 Jan, 2009 06:47

Rebuilding trust and setting future standards to take centre stage at Davos

More than 40 heads of state are arriving in Switzerland for the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum. The meeting is already being called the most important in the Forum’s history.

Arriving at the resort of Davos, business leaders are likely to enjoy the familiar luxury of the place – helicopters, skiing and expensive drinks.

This year it’s not just a meeting of the powerful, but a platform to discuss the pressing economic issue – a financial collapse and a crisis of confidence in politicians and business leaders. Chief Strategist at Renaissance Capital, Roland Nash, says it’s about rebuilding trust.

“Trust in business globally have never been lower. If you look at different surveys, from U.K. to Japan, there is very little trust in business. and what has to happen is close relationship between the state and business and in Russia, for historical reasons, this relationship is already there.”

In the past, the organisers of Davos have tried to highlight the challenges facing the world economy – but Business leaders showed little interest – with disastrous results.

With the biggest Western economies plunged into recession, this year's forum aims to highlight the role of developing countries.

But Tatyana Mitrova, Head of the Energy Research Institute, at the Russian Academy of Sciences, says some familiar issues are sure to get plenty of attention too.

“On the agenda will be the question of energy security, especially after the winter's events. It's impossible to ignore it. And nuclear energy, concerning the non-proliferation issues, which is a classic theme at the forum. And, of course, energy efficiency, and alternative energy sources. However the discussion on current financial crisis might overshadow energy topics.”

Topics include reconstruction of the world economy, fixing the banking system and new systems of cooperation. Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin will give the opening speech with a call for unity.

“When we speak about combining efforts and working out certain rules for everyone, what does it have to be about, from Russia's point of view? It's primarily about working out common standards for the world economy, including its national sectors. Under the current conditions of globalization, interdependence is so great that all countries could be interested in that and even have the right to that.”

If the five-day event is taken seriously by the participants it might not only improve the forum's image but have an influence on the unfolding financial crisis.