The World Economic Forum in Manila: A Primer

Manila, and the Philippines in general, will be once again thrust in the world spotlight as the World Economic Forum will hold its East Asia summit this week from May 21-23 in this bustling metropolis.

But for many of us, I suppose there are questions that will be asked about this event like:

– what is this World Economic Forum?

– what is this East Asia summit all about?

– will we get to benefit from this event and how?

So to the best that the Urban Roamer can do, let this piece serve as a little primer about this event with some of the basic information we need to know about it.

The World Economic Forum

The World Economic Forum (WEF) is a Switzerland-based, nonprofit foundation which describes itself as “an independent international organization committed to improving the state of the world by engaging business, political, academic, and other leaders of society to shape global, regional, and industry agendas.”

Some of us may be familiar with the WEF thanks to that most prominent event it organizes annually: the one held every January in the mountain resort of Davos, Switzerland. Most prominent in the sense that it’s a by-invitation event in which in attendance are chief executive officers from the its 1000-member companies, as well as some international leaders, prominent religious and academic leaders, and key figures belonging to non-government organizations, among others. The meeting itself deals with a wide variety of subjects of global concern such as poverty, environment, and international conflicts, among others, tackled in hundreds of sessions held in a span of 5 days.

The scope of this annual meeting gives the perception that this is the only event the World Economic Forum organizes each year. However, it also organizes a number of other notable events each year, though not as prestigious as the Davos one. Which brings us to…

WEF’s East Asia Summit

The World Economic Forum on East Asia is an annual event organized by the foundation which deals primarily with the developments and various issues that are happening in the Eastern Asia area, particularly those being faced by the host country the forum is held at. Thus, this year’s East Asia Forum will be dealing with, among others, the Philippines’ development as an emerging Asian country, as well as the challenges it is facing today.

As such, this summit is being seen as an opportunity to showcase the country to the rest of the world, hopefully highlighting more of the achievements and the progress the country has made thus far and as a way to woo more businesses and individuals to invest in the country. At the same time, the event is also seen as an opportunity for ideas and plans to be formulated that will help address the issues facing the country and the region as a whole. (implementation is another matter but I digress)

Being a WEF event, this 3-day summit to be held at Makati Shangri-la Hotel and the Philippine International Convention Center (PICC) will be attended by 600 delegates, consisting of key business leaders, especially in the region, economic experts, even various heads of state/government in the region as well like the Pres. Susilo Yudhoyono of Indonesia and Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung of Vietnam. 

Given the high-profile nature of this event, security has been tightened as about 6000 members of the police force have been deployed for the event. Traffic rerouting is being enforced as well, especially in the Makati CBD area where the summit will be held. And of course, you can expect the metropolis being spruced up more than usual, we all know how it goes.

Let us all hope all will go well for the WEF East Asia summit and may this event in a way help bring about some meaningful developments for the Philippines and the Eastern Asian region as a whole.

with additional information from Rappler, Philippine Star, and Wikipedia

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