What to Expect From the WEF in Dalian

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Model of Dalian at WEF registration

Student Reporter

Model of Dalian at WEF registration

The Annual Meeting of the New Champions (AMNC) takes place this week in the coastal city of Dalian, China.

DALIAN, China – It’s easy to notice the city gearing up for 1,600 guests (not to mention the 300+ participants from the press) traveling from around the world to meet for the WEF’s second most important meeting of the year.

The street cleaners spotted along the main roads around the designated hotel, convention center and airport two days before the start of the conference are replaced by security guards and municipal police. Local residents are forbidden to drive every other day of the week (“If the last number of your car number is [an odd] number it is only allowed on Monday, Wednesday, Friday,” a Dalian resident told us).

The various WEF community members have had their day packed already with activities, meetings and receptions. But for the media and those back home, what is new and noteworthy about the AMNC starting tomorrow?

Scaling the Great China firewall

In the last recent Forum meetings, social media played an important role in increasing engagement and participants between attendees and the general public back home (in Davos 2013, there were over 170,000 mentions using the official hashtag). With the firewall in China banning Facebook, Twitter, most of Google, we will be paying attention to how the AMNC participants and WEF media team will be coping with this.

So far, the WEF media team doesn’t seem to skip a beat. “The Annual Meeting of the New Champions 2013 will make full use of online collaboration with major social networks,” says the press packet, nonchalantly listing the official Twitter hashtag (#WEF) and announcing how they will be using Facebook and Google+ in panel discussions.

A brand new playground

The AMNC will be held at the new and futuristic Dalian International Convention Center – a landmark that epitomizes a relationship of the WEF and the Dalian Municipal Government reminiscent of the Olympics and host cities, and according to Vice-Mayor of Dalian Municipal Government, Qu Xiaofei, customized for this meeting. We will be interviewing the WEF Director of Programme Development as well as the Dalian Municipal Government to look closer into this story.

Meanwhile, Qu continued to be no short of support for the WEF and the international attention the AMNC brings: “Participants will feel the beauty and charm of Dalian. I encourage you to publicize Dalian and give support.”

Multi-stakeholder with a twist? New Champions meet business and industry leaders 

If the Forum had a signature word and concept, it would be “multi-stakeholder.” True to form, in the press conference held in Beijing last week, Olivier Schwab, head of the WEF Beijing office stated: “The multi-stakeholder concept is expressed in a unique manner where new champions meet current leaders… We’re creating a meeting space between the businesses and thought leaders of tomorrow, and the leaders of today.”

While the sessions in the programme at glance doesn’t signal a particular strong interest towards businesses, Dalian is more focused on industry, with more than 900 of the 1,600 participants being from business. In a way, while the Strategic Partners of the WEF run the show in Davos, the WEF takes a turn to their Industry Partners in Dalian. As part of their  multi-stakeholder approach towards communities, the WEF will highlight two communities: Technology Pioneers (companies “normally in a start-up phase—that are involved in the design or deployment of innovative products or services” says the press packet) and Global Growth Companies (“dynamic, high-growth companies with the potential to be tomorrow’s industry leaders”).

China and the new government charge ahead with “sustainable growth”

China’s Premier Li Keqiang’s opening address will be the highlight of tomorrow’s activities. In an address he published in the Financial Times earlier this week for the AMNC, he stressed the new government’s policy to “sustain economic growth, improve people’s wellbeing and promote social equity.” The address made no mentions of concrete plans or definitions for what “sustainable” growth means to China besides a vague pledge for a “holistic approach.”

Nonetheless, China’s growth has gone beyond just a concern for sustainability activists. And industry being a key focus in Dalian, the spotlight will be on business leaders this time around.

 

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