Shakira calls for more early childhood education


DAVOS, SWITZERLAND: The latest on the World Economic Forum’s annual meeting in the Swiss ski resort of Davos (all times local):

12:15 am

Shakira is suggesting an antidote for violent conflict and divisive populism: Get more kids in pre-school.


The Colombian singer is using her distinctive voice to lobby the world’s rich and powerful at the World Economic Forum in Davos for more spending on early childhood education.

Asked if she had a message for US President-elect Donald Trump, she urged solid education policies that instill “inclusiveness and tolerance” for future generations.

Recalling a childhood in Colombia marred by war, she said: “If we really want peace, we need to invest in education.”

Shakira and actor Forest Whitaker were given special awards at Davos on Wednesday for their humanitarian work.

Whitaker noted that his charity work in societies emerging from conflict requires coordination with governments of different stripes, and he stressed the importance of grassroots activity.


7:45 pm

There’s no chance that Klaus Schwab, the founder of the elite political and business gathering in Davos, will undersell the importance of the World Economic Forum.

Addressing delegates Monday in the Swiss ski resort, Schwab said this year’s 47th WEF is taking place at an “extraordinary moment of history,” when a “sometimes-disruptive transformation” partly related to technological advances is hitting businesses and societies.

Acknowledging a growing pessimism around the world, Schwab urged delegates to look to the future in a “self-confident way,” to repair deficiencies in the capitalist system and to think in the long term.

Schwab also noted that one-third of those at this year’s meeting are from the emerging world, including the largest-ever delegations from China and India.

The forum officially starts Tuesday. Chinese President Xi Jinping arrived Monday by train to a red carpet welcome.


7:15 pm

US Vice President Joe Biden says his “prayer” is that the incoming Trump administration will continue to support the fight against cancer, which kept Biden from running for president after it took the life of his son, Beau.

Biden was speaking Monday before the start of the World Economic Forum in Davos to promote his “Cancer Moonshot” initiative. He hailed bipartisan support in Congress for a bill that brought in $1.8 billion for additional research at the National Cancer Institute.

Biden said he had spoken with Vice President-elect Mike Pence about his willingness to work with the new Trump administration to help it be as “committed and enthusiastic as we are in the goal of ending cancer.”

He urged other countries to also invest in the fight against cancer and called for greater collaboration among researchers, health care providers and drug firms.


6:30 pm

CEOs are increasingly confident about the near-term prospects of their companies despite an array of worries that includes mounting concerns over a lurch toward trade protectionism.

That’s the finding from an annual survey of CEOs by global accounting and consulting firm PwC ahead of the World Economic Forum.

The survey found that 38 percent of CEOs are very confident about their company’s growth prospects in the next 12 months, against 35 percent last year. Meanwhile, 29 percent of respondents believe global economic growth will pick up in 2017, up from 27 percent last year.

Bob Moritz, PwC’s chairman, says one worry that has swelled over the past few months is protectionism. Fears that the era of globalisation may go into reverse have been stoked by Britain’s vote to leave the European Union and Donald Trump’s election as US president.

PwC’s survey was based on 1,379 interviews across 79 countries between Sept. 26 and Dec. 5, with the majority conducted online.


5:45 pm

The chairman of global accounting and consulting firm PwC doubts that many companies will leave Britain after the country exits the European Union.

Speaking to The Associated Press in the Swiss ski resort of Davos ahead of Tuesday’s official start to the World Economic Forum, Bob Moritz said he hadn’t seen any institutions leave and that he doesn’t expect them to do so “anytime soon.”

However, Moritz says his firm is advising its many clients to be “thoughtful” and to engage in “scenario planning.”

British Prime Minister Theresa May is due to outline her vision of Britain’s post-EU future on Tuesday.

The British pound fell around 1 percent Monday on worries that May will make it clear that her government is prepared to leave the EU’s single market, which guarantees no tariffs on goods and services, during the upcoming Brexit discussions. That’s prompted speculation that firms will ditch Britain in favor of a base within the single market.


5:15 pm

For 51 weeks of the year, the Swiss village of Davos is much like other Alpine ski resorts – fairly low profile. But around the annual World Economic Forum, it turns into something more akin to a fortress.

Checkpoints, roadblocks, airspace restrictions and armed forces are put in place to provide security to the visiting business and political leaders.

Swiss authorities say the extra security cost for this year’s gathering, which officially begins Tuesday, is around 9 million Swiss francs ($9 million) as of late November. That’s split between various parties, including the central government and the WEF itself.

The cost of deploying troops at this event is said to be similar to that of a regular training for battalions. In previous years, it has cost an average of 28 million Swiss francs per meeting.

The Federal Council, Switzerland’s executive branch, considers the WEF “an exceptional event,” providing “a unique opportunity” to bolster relations with leading figures.


1:30 pm

The World Economic Forum, which organises the annual gathering of the global political and business elites in the Swiss ski resort of Davos, says the focus on economic growth, which has guided policymaking for decades, is no longer fit for purpose.

In a report published Monday, the WEF proposed a shift in policymaking to “respond more effectively to the insecurity and inequality accompanying technological change and globalisation.”

The WEF’s main recommendation is that governments make improving living standards one of their key goals.

It says most countries are “missing important opportunities to raise economic growth and reduce inequality at the same time,” adding that measurements such as life expectancy, productivity and poverty rates should be priorities.

Under a new ranking system that incorporates so-called “inclusive development,” the WEF rated Norway top, followed by Luxembourg and Switzerland.

The issue of inequalities both within countries and across the world is a key focus of this year’s WEF, which officially opens Tuesday.