Crown Prince heads back to Davos

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Norwegian Crown Prince Haakon traveled back to Davos, Switzerland this week, where he’s to play a key role at the annual World Economic Forum. The heir to Norway’s throne claims a group of “Young Leaders” that he heads is coming up with “concrete projects” to make the world a better place.

The crown prince made his first trip to the World Economic Forum in 2005 and has attended every year since, except in 2008, when the annual gathering of many of the world’s rich and powerful people collided with another obligation.

Haakon clearly enjoys the event, and thinks he can help make a difference. He told newspaper Aftenposten over the weekend that he and members of his group aren’t just talking but also coming up with ways of battling poverty and boosting equality.

“We’re working with concrete projects to fight poverty and create conditions for more equality,” he told Aftenposten . “We also talking about how to do this work. Individuals’ dignity is an important part of it.”

Crown Prince Haakon set up the “Global Dignity” initiative in 2006 and the “Global Redesign” initiative last year, aimed at promoting human dignity and tackling poverty. More than 3,000 experts and leaders have been linked to the initiatives, offering their ideas on how the international community can contribute.

He also has led the Young Global Leaders group, a network of leaders under age 40 that includes American activist John Hope Bryant and Finnish philosophy professor Pekka Himanen along with a long list of others keen on trying to save the world.Through the Young Global Leaders group, Haakon has conducted teleconferences from his office at the Royal Palace in Oslo every Tuesday for the past several months, to come up with new proposals for reducing poverty. Among them:

** Creation of a “business oath” to be taken by business leaders that would be akin to the Hippocratic Oath taken by doctors. The idea is that business should also serve humanity, not just profit from it.** Creation of “Table for Two,” a program that would provide a concrete means for people to donate money when they buy their own lunch at work, with funds collected to be used for meals for school children in poor countries.

** Creation of “Deworm the World,” a program that already has treated 20 million school children in 26 countries for worms in their digestive systems.

Now the crown prince will be meeting many of his fellow young leaders face-to-face at the World Economic Forum in Davos, with the goal of getting the initiatives into practice. The group has held discussions with youth in more than 20 countries and will present a report at the forum this week.

“They’re concerned about the climate and poverty, and want to be part of the decision-making process,” Crown Prince Haakon said.

He noted that the “business oath” proposal also will be forwarded in Davos, an attempt to get business leaders to base their business decisions at least in part on the right to human dignity. He said nearly half of all new MBAs from Harvard University, likely to be among those making up the world’s future business leaders, already have taken the oath.

The Crown Prince was looking forward to his days in Davos. “You know when you go into a meeting room there that everyone really wants to be part of all this,” he told Aftenposten . “The view is always towards how we can make things better, maybe different, from before.

“If you help others strengthen their own dignity, you strengthen your own at the same time.”