Multilateralism, green economy focus of first-day virtual Davos Agenda meeting

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This photo shows a screen displaying World Economic Forum (WEF) Founder and Executive Chairman Klaus Schwab delivering a welcome address. [Photo/Xinhua]

On the first day of the virtual World Economic Forum (WEF) Davos Agenda meeting on Monday, world leaders highlighted the importance of multilateralism and green economy in the post-COVID-19 global cooperation.

Antonio Guterres, Secretary-General of the United Nations, addressed the opening day of the WEF meeting, reiterating the call for a "reinvigorated, inclusive and networked multilateralism," and a "full, inclusive and equal participation for developing countries in global institutions."

"We need to be calling for a new social contract to create equal opportunities for all, and respect the rights and freedoms of all. A new social contract within societies is needed to enable people to live in dignity," he said.

"Now is the time to transform humankind's relationship with the natural world and each other. And we must do so together," he stressed.

Christine Lagarde, president of the European Central Bank (ECB), participated in the "Restoring economic growth" session, calling for more green development and financing.

"While both on the fiscal front and on the monetary policy front, authorities will have to stay the course and continue to support, at the same time investment will have to really be focused in order to lay the ground for a new economy," she said.

The ECB announced on Monday that it would set up a climate change center to bring together the work on climate issues in different parts of the bank.

The new unit, which will consist of about ten staff working with existing teams across the bank, will report to Lagarde, who oversees the ECB's work on climate change and sustainable finance, the bank said in a press release.

Lagarde also said that the eurozone's economic recovery has simply been delayed "but should not be derailed."

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) forecast in October that the eurozone economy shrank by 8.3 percent in 2020, but would resume growth of 5.2 percent in 2021.

Other sessions on Monday focused on responding to the COVID-19 crisis, building crisis-resistant healthcare systems, re-imagining education and building "net-zero" cities.

Also on day one, the WEF launched a coalition to tackle racism and improve racial and ethnic justice in the workplace.

The "Partnering for Racial Justice in Business" initiative consists of 48 organizations representing 13 industries, with more than 5.5 million employees worldwide and with headquarters in three continents, according to a news release.

More than 2,000 leaders will join the virtual Davos Agenda meeting under the theme of "A Crucial Year to Rebuild Trust" on Jan. 25-29.

On Tuesday, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron are expected to address the forum.

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