PM Lee to attend World Economic Forum in Davos

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong will visit the Swiss alpine town of Davos from today to Friday to attend the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum (WEF).

He will speak at a dialogue on Wednesday moderated by WEF president Borge Brende, which is billed as a conversation on the future of smart nations, leadership in the Fourth Industrial Revolution and how technology will reshape the Asean region.

PM Lee will also be a panellist in a livestreamed media session later that day, titled Leading a New Multilateralism, moderated by Financial Times editor Roula Khalaf.

It will discuss how the multilateral system should adapt to emerging actors, interests and ideas. Also on the panel are South Africa's Minister of International Relations and Cooperation Grace Naledi Mandisa Pandor, Indian telecoms tycoon Sunil Bharti Mittal and Western Union CEO Hikmet Ersek.

PM Lee will also meet other political and business leaders on the sidelines of the WEF meetings, the Prime Minister's Office said in a statement yesterday.

This year's session is the 50th of the WEF, which is a platform for leaders in government, industry and civil society to exchange views on geopolitical developments and discuss new approaches to address evolving global challenges.

The theme for this year's meeting is Stakeholders for a Cohesive and Sustainable World.

Global leaders scheduled to attend include United States President Donald Trump, China's Vice-Premier Han Zheng and German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

Other prominent delegates include 17-year-old Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg, who will be on a panel on averting a climate apocalypse; Huawei Technologies founder Ren Zhengfei, who will discuss the technology arms race; and Bollywood actress Deepika Padukone, who will speak on the stigma surrounding mental illness, an issue she has been advocating for greater awareness on.

The range of topics covers some of the key questions this year's session seeks to discuss, including:

•How to address the urgent climate and environmental challenges that are harming our ecology and economy;


•How to transform industries to achieve more sustainable and inclusive business models as trade and consumption patterns change;

•How to govern the technologies driving the Fourth Industrial Revolution - a term used to describe how widespread automation, digitalisation and trends like artificial intelligence (AI) are set to radically transform the way people live and work - so they benefit business and society while minimising their risks; and

•How to adapt to the demographic, social and technological trends reshaping education, employment and entrepreneurship.

PM Lee will be accompanied by Senior Minister and Coordinating Minister for Social Policies Tharman Shanmugaratnam and Minister for Communications and Information S. Iswaran.

Mr Tharman was appointed to the WEF's 25-member board of trustees last year.

Mr Iswaran will participate in sessions on the future of the digital economy and governance of technologies like AI, and on strengthening the infrastructure for digital trade.

During PM Lee's absence, Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat will be the acting prime minister from today to Saturday.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 20, 2020, with the headline 'PM Lee to attend World Economic Forum in Davos'. Print Edition | Subscribe