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Oxygen tanks and wetsuited waiters at Davos: what does it all add up to?

Davos women are gathered to listen to the likes of Arianna Huffington and the impressive Indonesian trade minister, Mari Pangestu, and to network amongst other women. Seemingly stuck at just 15 per cent of participants, the ‘tribe’ (as its referred to by Harvard prof Rosabeth Kanter)looks quite different all gathered together vs as a light sprinkling.  As I’m sitting down and slightly wondering what I need to be doing here for children, most of the women at the table tell me they happen to be Save the Children supporters – it’s great to be able to say thank you.

The Google party is even cooler this year with wetsuit, snorkel-clad waiters serving sushi, and coloured pure oxygen tanks for those in need of a blast. Media moguls, politicos, all the young global leaders and even some royalty hit the dance floor.

The accessibility of all these people is unparalleled.  People want to capitalise on that by following up afterwards and the biz card ritual is like nothing I’ve ever seen outside Japan.  I swear some measure success of their participation by how many inches of cards they collect and give out.

What does it all add up to?  For all the streams of work on health, hunger, education, disaster response – what’s really needed is some kind of framework for aggregating pledges today and outcomes tomorrow.  And a Google-type system for sharing knowledge about what works and what doesn’t.

This will be all the more glaringly needed at the next big global gathering in NY in September to review progress against the 8 Millennium Development Goals that must be reach by 2015. I’m sure some of the people at Davos could sort those web aps if they decided to.

*First posted on FT.com

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