Looking for Allies at the World Economic Forum in Davos

By Jim Wallis 1-27-2009

Today I arrived in Switzerland for the first day of the World Economic Forum's (WEF) yearly summit in Davos. I'm one of a dozen or so religious leaders in this alpine retreat and am joining over a thousand CEOs and 40 heads of state for five days of discussion, deliberation, and collaboration on a wide variety of global affairs.

The forum was started in 1971 by a German economist named Klaus Shwab, and its mission is to serve as "an independent international organization committed to improving the state of the world by engaging leaders in partnerships to shape global, regional, and industry agendas."

Some have noted that they would expect me to be protesting outside of the WEF and not a participant in it. While it would not be hard to find "enemies" to fight here at Davos, I find my time much better spent looking for allies. Over the past few years, I have seen from at least some business leaders across the world a growing desire to understand morality in the midst of markets.

A Wall Street Journal story about Davos that I read on the plane was headlined "World Elite Visit Davos in Doubt" and quoted an economics professor at a French business school commenting, "This may be the first Davos where capitalism is widely viewed as a failure, rather than something to be admired."

It may be that this year more economic leaders than before will be open to a different message. Switzerland's European neighbors to the East (and North)

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