**Taking Responsibility for Tough Choices**

Today more than 2,250 participants from 96 countries are convening in Davos, including more than 20 heads of state or government, 70 cabinet ministers, 26 religious leaders, 15 union leaders and more than 50 heads of non-governmental organizations. Around 50% of the participants are business leaders drawn principally from the Forum’s members – 1,000 of the foremost companies from around the world and across all economic sectors.

The opening session of the WEF Annual Meeeting 2005, being held this year January 26 – 30, will be a major innovation, the Global Town Hall, which is an interactive plenary session designed to bring diverse people, voices and viewpoints together around the Meeting’s theme – *”Taking Responsibility for Tough Choices”*. The objective is for participants to focus on the toughest challenges ahead and to prioritize the six issues that should be at the top of the global agenda in 2005. The results of the opening Town Hall will be integrated into the relevant sessions in the official programme.

Speaking at an earlier press conference at the World Economic Forum’s headquarters in Geneva, Founder and Executive Chairman Professor Klaus Schwab said, *“We find ourselves at a crucial moment for the world and its leaders. There are a number of new beginnings, from the new Presidency of the European Commission, to the election of a new President for the Palestinian Authority, to the coming elections in Iraq, to the new leadership in Ukraine. Leaders from all sectors of society will come to Davos this year to work on ways to consolidate and build on these new beginnings to improve the state of the world. What is needed is ‘pragmatic optimism’, the resolve to work with the world we have, to make a world as it should be.”*