Will.i.am heads to Davos economic summit, following Matt Damon

Will I Am

Will.i.am will swap his big chair on The Voice UK for the snow-covered peaks of Davos next week, to seek support from world leaders for his charitable foundation.

The rapper and music producer-turned-tech investor will be rubbing shoulders with more than 40 heads of state and government as the Swiss resort hosts the 45th World Economic Forum. Will.i.am, or William Adams, will be promoting his i.am.angel Foundation, a charity that aims to transform lives through “education, inspiration and opportunity”. Instead of mentoring young singing hopefuls and bantering with Rita Ora, Adams will be lobbying the rich and powerful to embrace philanthropy to improve local communities, and meeting the press on Friday night.

Will.i.am is following in the snowy footsteps of Hollywood star Matt Damon, who attended WEF 2014 to seek funding for his charity, Water.org.

Leaders of Europe’s major economies will also be attending the event. Angela Merkel returns to the throng after missing last year, when a skiing injury kept her at home. France’s president François Hollande has been lured up the mountains for the first time, and Italy’s prime minister Matteo Renzi is breaking his own Davos duck.

David Cameron, though, is not attending – the first time Britain’s prime minister has skipped a Forum meeting since 2007, having given special addresses in 2013 and 2014.

Facebook’s Sheryl Sandberg, Yahoo’s Marissa Mayer, Satya Nadella of Microsoft and Eric Schmidt of Google are all attending, as is Jack Ma, founder of China’s web giant Alibaba.

Despite the presence of Mayer, Sandberg, Merkel, just 17% of Davos delegates are female. WEF is trying to improve its gender balance, offering delegations an extra place as long as they bring at least one woman. Last year around 16% of the delegates were women.

This year’s WEF is titled “The New Global Context”, with a focus on climate change, economic growth, social inclusion, and the future of the internet. The former US vice-president Al Gore and Christiana Figueres, United Nations executive secretary, are pushing the private sector to take climate change seriously before the UN climate conference in Paris in December.

Davos regulars are used to trudging between venues in the small resort, where security is notoriously tight. This year, UBS is trying to encourage delegates to burn some shoe leather, handing out 1,000 electronic pedometers. If participants walk at least 6 km each during the event, the Swiss bank will donate 2,500 bicycles to children in rural South Africa to help them get to school.

Powered by Guardian.co.ukThis article was written by Graeme Wearden, for The Guardian on Wednesday 14th January 2015 17.19 Europe/London

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