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World Economic Forum Opens In Melbourne

September 11, 2000

British PM Tony Blair Addressing the WEF Amidst controversy and media hysteria about protests and security, the World Economic Forum meeting begins today at the Crown Casino complex in Melbourne.

Officially, the meeting is the Asia Pacific Economic Summit. It normally meets in Hong Kong and Singapore, but has been moved to Australia so that "participants will have the opportunity to meet key leaders from business, politics and academia at a time when the eyes of the world will be fixed on Australia."

The World Economic Forum is an organisation of representatives from the 1000 top corporations in the world.

It has its origins in a meeting of European business executives held in the Swiss mountain town of Davos in January 1971. The European Management Forum was formed shortly afterwards as a not-for-profit foundation. It became a membership organisation by 1976 and began conducting Country Forums and research activities.

During the 1980s the activities of the foundation expanded. In 1982 the Informal Gathering of World Economic Leaders took place in Davos, involving Cabinet ministers from national governments and representatives from institutions such as the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund and the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (now the World Trade Organisation).

The organisation held its 30th annual meeting in Davos this year.

In its own words:

"The World Economic Forum is the foremost global partnership of business, political, intellectual and other leaders of society committed to improving the state of the world.

"Members, constituents and collaborators have a unique opportunity, through their association with the World Economic Forum, to engage in processes of developing and sharing ideas, opinions and knowledge on the key issues of the global agenda.

"The World Economic Forum is an independent, impartial, not-for-profit Foundation which acts in the spirit of entrepreneurship in the global public interest to further economic growth and social progress."

The World Economic Forum claims to have "evolved into a major force for economic integration at the corporate as well as the national economic levels. It has played a key role in identifying new trends in the economic, political, social and cultural domains, and in shaping strategies and actions for corporations and countries to integrate these changes and maximize their potentials."

Various themes have been adopted by the WEF during the 1990s:

  • 1991 - The new direction for global leadership
  • 1992 - Global cooperation and megacompetition
  • 1993 - Rallying all the forces for global recovery
  • 1994 - Redefining the basic assumptions of the world economy
  • 1995 - Challenges beyond growth
  • 1996 - Sustaining globalization
  • 1997 - Building the Network Society
  • 1998 - Priorities for the 21st Century
  • 1999 - Managing the impact of globalization
  • 2000 - New Beginnings: Making a Difference
The following Australian companies are members of the World Economic Forum:
  1. Amcor
  2. Amrad Corporation
  3. Australia Post
  4. BHP
  5. Commonwealth Bank
  6. J.B. Were & Son
  7. John Fairfax Holdings
  8. Lend Lease Corporation
  9. Mayne Nickless
  10. MG Kailis Group
  11. National Australia Bank
  12. NRMA Insurance Group
  13. Pratt Industries
  14. Publishing and Broadcasting Limited
  15. Santos
  16. Southcorp
  17. Telstra
  18. Wesfarmers
  19. Westfield Holdings
  20. WMC
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