White Participates in New Approach to Global Decision Making

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Chelsea C. White III, H. Milton and Carolyn J. Stewart School Chair and Schneider National Chair of Transportation and Logistics, participated in the inaugural Summit on the Global Agenda held in partnership with the Government of Dubai in November 2008. The Summit on the Global Agenda, a unique gathering of some of the world's most influential thinkers from academia, business, government and society from around the world, was designed to advance solutions to the most critical challenges facing humanity today.

The Summit, created by the World Economic Forum, was comprised of over 700 invited participants with diverse views who were divided into sixty-eight Councils to discuss the world's foremost topics on the global arena. The formation of Global Agenda Councils marks a major milestone in the World Economic Forum's evolution towards becoming the "integrator, manager and disseminator of the best knowledge available in the world.*

The Summit began with introductory sessions by Mohamed Alabar, Chairman, Emaar Properties, United Arab Emirates and Co-chair of the Summit on the Global Agenda; and Klaus Schwab, Founder and Executive Chairman, World Executive.

Alabar said, "Truly this is the largest brainstorming event in the world and for that I thank all of you.*

Schwab said, "It is a time of crisis and unprecedented uncertainty and even fear. But it is also an opportunity to make some much needed change. The challenges faced by the world today are more complex; more interrelated, more intractable than ever before. Confronting these global challenges requires collaborative thinking, creative solutions and most importantly, a systematic approach to implementation. These Global Agenda Councils and their deliberations will provide a 21st century approach to dealing with the issues that face us all from systematic financial risk to climate change.*

The Opening Address was given by H.H. Sheikh Mohammed Vin Rashid Al Makroum, Vice President of the United Arab Emirates and Ruler of Dubai. "We come together today to build the future and make history happen*. Despite the negativity of today's situation, we can learn a positive lesson from it. People are decision-makers and they can write their own history. We should never forget that the economy and global stability go hand in hand to building the future.* said Sheikh Mohammed.

The Summit Councils collaboratively addressed issues of global importance on a range of issues in economics and finance; demography and human resources; geopolitics and governance; society, value, and ethics; environment and natural resources; and health, science and technology. The goal was to develop a better understanding of the leading issues of the day and lay out solutions to some of the most pressing issues by capturing the best knowledge possible on each key issue.

The sixty-eight Global Agenda Councils were charged with challenging prevailing assumptions, monitoring trends, mapping interrelationships and addressing the knowledge gaps on their issue. They were also charged with proposing solutions, devising strategies and evaluating the effectiveness of actions using measurable benchmarks. To start the discussions, each council was asked to think about two core questions throughout their council discussion:
1) What is the state of the world on your issue?
2) What needs to be done now?

Over the three day Summit, each Council addressed issues in their particular field of expertise but they also periodically came together to create a formidable problem solving network.

White participated in the Council that addressed economic and financial issues in "Trade Facilitation.* While international trade plays a key role in economic growth, many obstacles remain that inhibit it from realizing its full potential. These trade barriers include not just traditional indicators that reflect tariffs and transportation costs, but also measures related to border administration, infrastructure, and the domestic regulatory and security environment. Costs incurred by these obstacles can be pecuniary in nature, including trade duties, payments for services such as transportation, communications and security, or take non-pecuniary forms, such as additional time to obtain information, necessary clearance and documentation, as well as losses as a result of damage and theft. However, all are likely to significantly diminish the economic benefits of trade.

"A major economic driver for virtually every country is foreign trade,* said White. "For example, about 27% of U.S. GDP is generated by foreign trade. The major question addressed in the Trade Facilitation Council was what are the issues that serve as barriers to trade and how can we remove these barriers? At a very basic level, anything that increases the cost and risk of moving goods internationally raises barriers to trade. Direct costs are relatively easy to identify. However, determining costs due to regulations, inspection, and congestion on highways, railheads, and sea and air ports, represents a more formidable challenge. These costs are related to lead-time mean and variance, where lead-time is simply the time needed to move goods from origin to destination. Thus for example, if an inspection adds to the length and variability of the time needed for goods to pass through a port, then this inspection reduces both port and supply chain productivity and as a result represents a barrier to trade. Much of the discussion revolved around these issues and issues associated with the lack of the availability of needed credit and as a result how freight tonnage has been in rapid decline over the last several months, further adding to the current economic crisis.*
The Trade Facilitation Council Member included:

Chairman: Robert Z. Lawrence, Albert L. Williams of Trade and Investment, John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University, USA

James Anderson, William B. Neenan S.J. Millennium Professor of Economics, Boston College, USA

Alan Deardorff, John W. Sweetland Professor of International Economics and Public Policy, University of Michigan, USA

David Dollar, Country Director, China and Mongolia, World Bank, Beijing

Richard Eglin, Director, Trade & Finance Division, World Trade Organization (WTO), Geneva

Patricia Francis, Executive Director, International Trade Centre (ITC), Geneva

David Hummels, Professor of Economics, Purdue University, USA

Kunio Mikuriya, Deputy Secretary-General, World Customs Organization (WCO), Brussels

John Sullivan Wilson, Lead Economist, Development Economics Research Group (DECRG), World Bank, Washington, DC

Chelsea White III, H. Milton Stewart and Carolyn J. Stewart Chair and Schneider National Chair in Transportation and Logistics, Georgia Tech, USA

Clifford Winston, Senior Fellow, Economic Studies, The Brookings Institution, USA

Council Manager: Qin He

Research Analyst: Liana Melchenko

Forum Lead: John Moavenzadeh

Managing Director: Robert Greenhill

For more information on the Summit, visit:


  • Workflow Status: Published
  • Created By: Barbara Christopher
  • Created: 12/02/2008
  • Modified By: Fletcher Moore
  • Modified: 10/07/2016

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