Last week, I had the pleasure of attending the World Economic Forum annual meeting in Davos, Switzerland — an extraordinary opportunity to engage with international leaders across sectors on top economic issues of the day. It was a busy five days, full of energy, activity and connections (new and old).
There were several key themes running through the week. The first was concern about continuing financial and social inequality globally. This is an area that will need more attention, especially as the US, Japan and Europe hopefully continue to emerge from their various economic challenges. A second geopolitical theme was the potential for competition between Japan and China in East Asia.
A third key thread stemmed from the speech by President Rouhani of Iran, in which he laid out his vision for the way ahead in ongoing negotiations around the Iranian nuclear weapons program. While I remain skeptical about the latter, I am willing to give events time to play out. As always, there are both risks and opportunities (e.g., global energy, advances in synthetic biology, entrepreneurial energy) in the world. You see quite a spectrum at Davos.
While I’ve been to Davos several times, this was my first visit as Dean of The Fletcher School at Tufts University. We hosted a private breakfast to mark the occasion and to convene an important discussion on “The Geopolitics of Reshaping the World: Risk and Opportunity.” It was a stellar conversation that included among others: Anne-Marie Slaughter, President and CEO of the New America Foundation and Thomas Friedman, New York Times Columnist and Pulitzer Prize-winning Author. Dignitaries included Ahmet Davutoğlu, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Turkey and Toomas Hendrik Ilves, the President of Estonia.
The Fletcher network is strong at Davos. We were joined at breakfast by distinguished Fletcher alumni Dev Senyal, Executive Vice-President and Group Chief of Staff of British Petroleum Plc; Eric Roland, Associate Director, North America Forum of Young Global Leaders, World Economic Forum; Chris Seiple, President, Institute for Global Engagement, USA; Keiko Lizuka, Political Correspondent, Director-General, Bureau for Americas, The Yomiuri Shimbun, USA; and Giancarlo Bruno, Senior Director, Head of Financial Services Industry, World Economic Forum; North America.
In addition, I was invited to speak on the public panel “Diplomacy and Warfare in the Digital Age” with John Baird, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Canada; Peter Maurer, President, International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), Geneva; Viviane Reding, Vice-President and Commissioner, Justice, Fundamental Rights and Citizenship, European Commission, Brussels; and Wolfgang Ischinger, Chairman, Munich Security Conference, Germany. (As an aside: I’ll be delighted to see Ambassador Ischinger — also a Fletcher alum — in just a few weeks at the Munich Security Conference.)
The week’s events were punctuated with two separate presentations I gave over dinner — the first on Leadership and the second on Cyber, two topics that I could never exhaust in terms of their importance and Fletcher’s contributions.
I owe a debt of gratitude to the many people at the WEF and at Fletcher involved in the planning and execution of this superb event. My sincere thanks to all.
Tagged with: Ahmet Davutoğlu • Anne-Marie Slaughter • Chris Seiple • cyber • Davos • Dev Senyal • Diplomacy and Warfare in the Digital Age • Eric Roland • Giancarlo Bruno • John Baird • Keiko Lizuka • Munich Security Conference • New York Times • Peter Maurer • President Rouhani • The World Economic Forum • Thomas Friedman • Toomas Hendrik Ilves • Viviane Reding • WEF • Wolfgang Ischinger
Dean Stavridis with his basset hound, Lilly.
Dean James Stavridis is the 12th leader of The Fletcher School since its founding in 1933. A retired Admiral in the U.S. Navy, he led the NATO Alliance in global operations from 2009 to 2013 as Supreme Allied Commander.