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The 40th World Economic Forum is dedicated to eradicating poverty by the simplest, most obvious means possible  
Annual Meeting 2010

Some of the leading lights of Davos speak about the most pressing issue facing humanity—namely, how to end the injustices that perpetuate poverty and create conditions that threaten the survival of our species.

Click here for an overview of the Annual Meeting 2010, and here for this year's initiatives.

Watch anti-poverty experts speak of the problem and its solutions


Ending Poverty Now: Rethink, Redesign, Rebuild
World Economic Forum Annual Meeting 2010, Davos-Klosters, Switzerland 27 - 31 January

Klaus Schwab, Founder and Executive Chairman, World Economic Forum

Sometimes in history, political and business leaders are pushed to make momentous decisions—decisions that mean real change, and have great impact.

Such decisions are never made lightly, but rather because the alternative is too dire to contemplate.

Today, we are at just such a crossroads, a moment of true societal crisis when dramatic change is inevitable. The only question is: will we help to usher in that change, or will we be its victims?

The theme of this year's World Economic Forum is Rethink, Redesign, Rebuild. For our own sake, and the sake of the future, we must do nothing less.


Last year's banking crisis shows that an economy built on speculation cannot last. But there is a larger context that is even more untenable.

For 400 years, the wealthiest countries in the world have increased their wealth at the expense of the poorest ones. Unfortunately, we have not done better in the last 50 years - the actors have merely changed.

And the pretense that free markets will help the poor has been shown, more and more clearly, to be a lie.

  • In 1820, the gap between the richest and poorest country was 3 to 1. In 1950, it was 35 to 1. Today, it is nearly 80 to 1.
  • In 1970, 434 million people were suffering from malnutrition. Today, that number is 854 million.
  • Even by more optimistic measures, things have barely improved, if at all, for the poor—despite the availability of better technology, more money, better communications, and systems of production that could easily solve poverty under better circumstances.
  • (For sources and more statistics, please see the press release.)

Today, it is clear that business as usual is now untenable not just for the poor, but for all of us. The number of conflicts worldwide has more than doubled since 1950. Climate change threatens our very survival. Our whole system is today at a tipping point, which leaves us only one choice – to change our ways, or face continued decline and misery.

Fortunately, because we are human, change is possible.


The attendees at this year's World Economic Forum hereby commit the power vested in us, as well as our collective wisdom, to taking, beginning this month, a few simple steps towards real, substantive change.

These measures are not rocket science. Nor will they take a hundred years to accomplish. These are simple, immediate steps that we can begin undertaking today.

And unlike the vague, hocus-pocus market-based (and verbiage-based) measures that have borne so little fruit, these measures will change things for real.

To read about these measures and what they will mean, please visit our initiatives page.


Too many developing countries have been forced to make false choices between privatization and poverty—and have received both.

From here on out, wealthy countries shall no longer use poorer nations as their larder and resource base, but will allow them to determine, guided solely by their own wisdom, to use their natural resources and arable land are best put to.

It is only by allowing developing countries to choose their own futures, and only by helping them humbly, generously, and without pressure to make those choices democratically, that we can right the wrongs of history and embark on a different path.

But we leaders cannot accomplish this alone. We are, obviously, faced with enormous pressures from those who helped to elect us. Only with the help of your pressure can we stand up to the interests which would have us continue business as usual at any cost.

Selected policy statements: 

Klaus Schwab, Founder and Executive Chairman, World Economic Forum
Stephen Harper, Prime Minister of Canada
Elizabeth II, Queen regnant of the Commonwealth realms
Bill Clinton, former President of the United States of America
Patricia A. Woertz, Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer, Archer Daniels Midland (ADM), USA
Harry, Prince of Wales, third in line to succession to the thrones of the Commonwealth realms
Nicolas Sarkozy, President of France
Angela Merkel, Chancellor of Germany

Watch videos
Read the press release

For more information about the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting, please contact

Click here for an overview of this year's pre-interviews.

Klaus Schwab, Founder and Executive Chairman, announces the themes of the Annual Meeting 2010

Stephen Harper
Canada's Prime Minister, Stephen Harper, announces a major shift for his country and, he hopes, for the world

Queen Elizabeth
Queen Elizabeth discusses the continuum between colonialism and modern markets, and takes a brave stand for change

Angela Merkel
Chancellor Merkel of Germany speaks of the possibilities for change whose seeds are all around us

Bill Clinton
Bill Clinton reflects on America's historic hand in Haiti's poverty, and on changing the patterns of history

Patricia Woertz
ADM head Patricia Woertz discusses some of the problems with global agribusiness

Prince Harry
Prince Harry speaks of the corruption in modern markets

Nicolas Sarkozy
President Sarkozy of France recaps some measures to end poverty worldwide

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