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Davos founder criticizes populism, wants urgent reform on capitalism

Matthew Lloyd | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Global economic growth of around 3 percent is insufficient to solve the world's greatest challenges, according to the executive chairman of the World Economic Forum.

Klaus Schwab's annual pre-meeting press briefing on Tuesday ahead of next week's annual World Economic Forum (WEF) gathering in Davos, Switzerland, focused on the need for global participants to pay greater heed to coordinating economic and social imperatives.

"Without economic development, social progress is not possible and without social progress, economic development is not sustainable," claimed Schwab, following on from his assertion that "economic activities always have to be coupled with social responsibility."

Addressing the recent surge of global populism and quest for inward looking responses to the world's problems, the executive chairman who co-founded WEF's predecessor organization in 1971, warned that populist solutions alone are insufficient.

"Every simplified approach to deal with the global complex agenda is condemned to fail," Schwab stressed.

"The problems we face technologically, economically,socially and politically are so tremendous, such that sustainable solutions require a systemic, holistic approach .... And particularly the collaboration of all global stakeholders, united in one mission - improving the state of the world," he concluded.

Schwab described the annual Davos meet – which is often viewed dismissively as an elite hobnobbing playground for the world's business, political and media leaders – as a "global multi-stakeholder summit" in which situations including the humanitarian crisis in Syria and the progress of the COP21 agenda on climate change would be addressed.

"Every market economy will produce winners and losers but the system will only be sustainable if there is enough solidarity between the winners and losers," the WEF co-founder warned as he emphasized the need to make market capitalism more inclusive.

A man begs for loose change on the streets of Manchester in the U.K.
Christopher Furlong | Getty Images
A man begs for loose change on the streets of Manchester in the U.K.

Schwab also announced the donation of 500,000 Swiss francs ($490,000) he has personally won through a series of awards towards a new fund aimed at supporting the younger generation in their search for "action-oriented solutions for tomorrow."

"We are at some kind of a turning point of history – we need new concepts, we do not have the solutions or the intellectual concepts for everything which we confront," he outlined.

"We have to be modest and provide the young generation with the possibility even more to make a contribution."

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