As world leaders convene in Davos for the World Economic Forum 2015 this week, they’ll be discussing everything from climate change and Ebola to stalled economic growth in China and the upcoming elections in Greece. They’ll also be participating in daily meditation sessions.
Under this year’s theme, “The New Global Context,” the 45th annual WEF conference will be honing in on the major problems the world currently faces — not only digging into economics and policy but discussing the importance of health, well-being, mindfulness and giving.
Here are 8 ways the conversation at the World Economic Forum is going beyond business and delving into bigger questions.
“We are here to be passionate and to show our compassion.”
Klaus Schwab, the founder and executive chairman of the World Economic Forum, kicked things off by articulating a vision of compassion and collaboration. “Sharing and caring should be the motto of this meeting,” he said.
Helping stressed-out leaders find their Zen.
Each day, renowned mindfulness meditation expert Jon Kabat-Zinn will lead a conference-wide meditation session. The morning sessions help to emphasize the importance of cultivating inner strength and wisdom in the face of crises. In the course of the week, Kabat-Zinn will also be speaking about meditation’s connection with human neurology.
Exploring the brain’s intricacies.
This year’s forum includes a series dedicated to exploring the latest developments in neuroscience, and one session delves into what mindfulness looks like in the brain. “Deconstructing Mindfulness,” presented on Friday by National Institute of Mental Health director Thomas R. Insel, neuroscientist Richard J. Davidson and NPR science correspondent Joe Palca, will explore the neural basis of mindfulness meditation.
Examining our relationship with technology.
On Thursday MIT professor Tim Berners-Lee, Yahoo president Marissa Mayer and Vodafone chief executive Vittorio Colao will come together to ask the question, “How can trust in the hyper-connected company be preserved?” in a session titled “In Tech We Trust.” Later in the day, Microsoft chief executive Satya Nadella, Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg and Google executive chairman Eric Schmidt will discuss the future of the digital economy in a session exploring the steps necessary to keep it open, secure and thriving.
Highlighting young people’s potential to improve the world.
At 22 years old, Alain Nteff, a 2012 Google Student Ambassador and a WEF Global Shaper, is the youngest participant at Davos this year. The Cameroon native will share the story of how his concern about the high mortality rates for newborn children and pregnant women in his community inspired him to develop Gifted Mom, a mobile app that helps expectant mothers and their caretakers calculate their due dates and detect life-threatening problems before they arise.
Urging us to live examined lives, right up to the end.
What does it really mean to live a good life? On Thursday the author and surgeon Atul Gawande will open up the conversation by speaking about the importance of how our lives end. His book Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End was published last October.
Not only fixing problems, but getting out in front of them.
Dr. Dean Ornish, the president and founder of the Preventive Medicine Research Institute, will lead a conversation Friday about the various lifestyle changes that can be made globally to combat chronic disease. On Saturday, he’ll join a panel of experts to discuss the role nutrition plays in confronting disease and why global dietary guidelines need to be made a priority.
Walking, for a good cause.
All the while, The Davos Challenge: Walk for Education will be measuring the steps taken by each Davos attendee with FitBit trackers in order to benefit schoolchildren in rural South Africa, many of whom have to walk 6 kilometers or more to school each day. Led by the World Bicycle Relief in collaboration with UBS and WEF 2015, Walk for Education aims to educate world leaders about the struggle these kids face and provide some immediate relief. Every 6 kilometers walked translates into one bicycle donation, and by the end of the week, the collaborators hope to be able to give 2,500 bicycles to the students in need, cutting down their commuting times and encouraging better attendance and higher academic achievement in the process. With all that walking, Davos regulars know the importance of bringing along the right footwear.