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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on June 3rd, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

Richard Attias (born 1959 in Morocc) – he is a  global events producer. As chairman of PublicisLive Attias was the producer of the World Economic Forum in Davos for over fifteen years. His personal history and the history of the organizations he was involved with are plainly fascinating and we write this longer posting because we feel that he is embarking now upon even a greater voyage with his new NEW YORK FORUM, then in his previous activities.

The World Economic Forum (WEF) is a Geneva-based non-profit foundation best known for its annual meeting in Davos, Switzerland, which brings together top business leaders, international political leaders, selected intellectuals and journalists to discuss the most pressing issues facing the world, including health and the environment. Beside meetings, the WEF produces a series of research reports, and engages its members in sector specific initiatives. WEF also organizes the “Annual Meeting of the New Champions” in China, and a series of regional meetings throughout the year. In 2008 those regional meetings included meetings on Europe and Central Asia, East Asia, the Russia CEO Roundtable, Africa, the Middle East, and the World Economic Forum on Latin America. In 2008 it launched the “Summit on the Global Agenda” in Dubai.

The WEF was founded in 1971 by Klaus Martin Schwab, a German-born business professor at the University of Geneva. Originally named the European Management Forum, it changed its name to the World Economic Forum in 1987 and sought to broaden its vision further to include providing a platform for resolving international conflicts.

In the summer of 1971 Schwab invited 444 executives from Western European firms to the first European Management Symposium held in the Davos Congress Centre, under the patronage of the European Commission and European industrial associations, where Schwab sought to introduce European firms to US management practices. He then founded the WEF as a non-profit organization based in Cologny, Geneva, and drew European business leaders to Davos for their annual meetings each January.

Schwab developed the “stakeholder” management approach which based corporate success on managers taking account of all interests: not merely shareholders, clients and customers, but employees and the communities within which the firm is situated, and governments. Events in 1973 including the collapse of the Bretton Woods fixed exchange rate mechanism, and the Arab-Israeli War, saw the annual meeting expand its focus from management to economic and social issues, and political leaders were invited for the first time to Davos in January 1974.

As the years went by, political leaders began to use Davos as a neutral platform to resolve their differences. The Davos Declaration was signed in 1988 by Greece and Turkey, helping them turn back from the brink of war. In 1992 South African President F. W. de Klerk met with Nelson Mandela and Chief Mangosuthu Buthelezi at the Annual Meeting, their first joint appearance outside South Africa. At the 1994 Annual Meeting, Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon Peres and PLO Chairman Yasser Arafat reached a draft agreement on Gaza and Jericho. In 2008 Bill Gates gave a keynote speech on Creative Capitalism, a form of capitalism that works both to generate profits and solve the world’s inequities, using market forces to better address the needs of the poor.

Frederik de Klerk and Nelson Mandela shake hands at the Annual Meeting of the World Economic Forum held in Davos in January 1992.

During the five-day Annual meeting in 2009, over 2,500 participants from 91 countries gathered in Davos. Around 75% (1,170) were business leaders, drawn principally from its members, 1,000 of world’s top companies. Besides these, participants included 219 public figures, including 40 heads of state or government, 64 cabinet ministers, 30 heads or senior officials of international organizations and 10 ambassadors. More than 432 participants were from civil society, including 32 heads or representatives of non-governmental organizations, 225 media leaders, 149 leaders from academic institutions and think tanks, 15 religious leaders of different faiths and 11 union leaders.
During the 1990s, Attias founded an Event Management Company and produced various global events including the Zurich Insurances Convention and Boris Yeltsin‘s visit to France. Richard was awarded the contract for the signature of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) signature agreements in Marrakesh and for the Middle East and North Africa summit meeting in Casablanca.

A brief encounter with Klaus Schwab, President of the World Economic Forum, resulted in a long-standing partnership and the eventual creation of the Global Event Management Company. This joint venture agency went on to manage international conferences, including the International Telecoms Union Congress and the Middle East Peace Summit in Jordan and the World Economic Forum in Davos.


Richard joined Publicis Groupe in 1998 and established a global enterprise producing events for various clients including IBM, l’Oreal, Uniliver, BT, Avaya, Lenovo, EDF, Sanofi-Aventis, etc.

Richard was named Chairman of the Board of Publicis Dialog which combined the operations of Publicis Events and a range of marketing services. In 2004, Richard moved to New York and became chairman of Publicis Events Worldwide, the first world wide events network with over 600 employees.

At PublicisLive Richard combined the events company and team to form PublicisLive that specialized in the conception and production of international conferences and very high profile events such as the Clinton Global Initiative Forum, the Islamic Conference, The Petra Conference of Nobel Laureates, the Dalian Economic Summit in China, and the Monaco Media Forum.

On March 23, 2008, Richard Attias married in New York’s Rockefeller Centre the ex-wife of French President Nicolas Sarkozy     Former French First Lady Mme. Cécilia María Sara Isabel Ciganer-Albéniz (a descendent of the composer).

Cécilia Sarkozy visited Libya twice in July 2007 to visit Muammar al-Gaddafi and helped in securing the release of five Bulgarian nurses and one Palestinian doctor who had all spent years on Libya‘s death row after allegedly being tortured into confessing to infecting Libyan babies with the HIV virus. The French left asked for Cécilia Sarkozy to be heard by the Parliamentary Commission expected to be created in October 2007 concerning the terms of the release of the six, as she had played an “important role” in their liberation. A Newspaper interview with Cécilia Sarkozy on October 19, 2007, made it known that she is leaving the President.


Current work

In 2008 Richard Attias created the Experience Corporation – a U.S. based full service event management and strategic consulting company with offices in New York, Paris, Jeddah and Dubai, that supports government and non-governmental organizations worldwide. As Executive Chairman, Richard oversees the execution and management of global events. Two major recent productions have been the celebration of the 10th anniversary of the accession to the throne of the King of Jordan and the launching of the Bahrain Education Project in Manama on October 10, 2009. The Experience Corporation has also executed more than a dozen corporate and governmental events since its inception in March, 2008.

Richard Attias is the Executive Chairman of  the Experience Corporation and works there with his wife.

Cecilia Attias Foundation for Women, In October 2008, Cecilia Attias announced the launch of her Foundation for women’s rights. The Cecilia Attias Foundation for Women actualizes concrete improvement in the lives of women worldwide by serving as a strategic, media, and financial platform for small and moderate sized, established non-governmental organizations, associations and foundations who champion the cause of women’s equality and well-being. Recently, Cecilia Attias delivered the keynote address at the ARISE Africa Fashion Awards entitled “The Promise of Africa.”

2008, Richard Attias sold the Global Event Management Company and with it the contract with the World Economic Forum. Richard is named special advisor to the Emirate of Dubai to provide a comprehensive strategy to make the city a destination for major conferences, and cultural and sporting events and spends a year and a half in Dubai.

Richard Attias is the Chairman the Advisory Board of the Center on Capitalism and Society, directed by Nobel Prize winner Edmund Phelps.

Currently, The Experience is making preparations for its New York Forum, the first summit to unite business leaders, sovereign funds and all major players in the global economy for an open, action oriented debate to foster ideas for improvement and reinvent current business models.

This brings us to what goes on right now – right here in New York, and we got wind of this from the New York Foreign Press Center where Richard Attias gave a Briefing on-The-Record, June 2, 2010.
We learned that this was the launching announcement for the FIRST ANNUAL NEW YORK FORUM, and we bet, in an age of contraction and increased interest in the real world, with demands that go beyond what a resort can provide, the location in New York City might make it possible that the meeting will become even more important then those Davos meetings.
The First Meeting will be held June 22-23, 2010, at the Grand Hyatt Hotel on East 42nd Street in Manhattan.
If you check the dates – you find that this fits neatly before the G-20 meeting – June 26 – 27, 2010 in Toronto. And as such, we already learned, that a main attraction of this meeting will be Christine Lagarde, Finance Minister of France will be the featured speaker at the closing session June 23, 2010.

Lagarde is the first woman ever to become minister of Economic Affairs of a G8 economy.  In 2008, Lagarde was ranked the 14th most powerful woman in the world by Forbes Magazine.  A noted antitrust and labor lawyer, Lagarde made history as the first female chairman of the international law firm Baker & McKenzie. She has been awarded France’s highest honor, the Légion d’honneur. In 2009, the Financial Times ranked her the best Minister of Finance of the Eurozone.
Further we learned that to date, Vikram Pandit, CEO, Citigroup; Edmund Phelps, Nobel Prize in Economics, 2006; Arthur Sulzberger Jr., Chairman and Publisher of The New York Times; Robert Wolf, CEO, UBS Americas; Jonathan Miller, CEO, News Corp Digital; Cathie Black, President, Hearst Magazines; and S.D. Shibulal, Co-Founder of Infosys Technologies, are among the people who have confirmed their attendance.
The New York Forum is a call for action by the business community to reinvigorate the global economy and to find new confidence and credibility. Initial support came from the following Forum partners: The Boston Consulting Group, The New York Times, Partnership for New York City, and the Center on Capitalism and Society at Columbia University.

The Forum’s distinguished Advisory Board includes Nobel Prize-winning economist and Director of The Center for Capitalism and Society, Edmund Phelps; Partnership for New York City CEO Kathy Wylde; Economist and Planet Finance Founder, Jacques Attali; and Scott-Heekin-Canedy, President and General Manager, The New York Times.

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WHY NEW YORK?

From Mr. Attias we learned that his love affair with New York started at 9/11. He saw then how “UNITED WE STAND” was something real in this city. That is how he decided to make it his main home.

When the financial crisis struck he was in Dubai – he realized that the economic crisis will follow. He saw there the workers from India losing their jobs without understanding what it is all about. He came back to New York with the intent to create this new platform – the New York Forum with people who really run the show – the business people rather then the politicians. He talks as stakeholders – of NGOs, academics, besides the business people, and he wants them to come up with actual proposals. He will keep them in the discussion groups and wait for solutions. He talks of a call to action and is not shy to say that the problems were started right here in New York, and solutions should come from New York and applied directly in New York.
Richard Attias thinks the Financial Crisis is behind us – but we have the Economic Crisis and we must have jobs for people.
The 2010 New York Forum will have a total of only 320-360 participants – just 3 plenaries with CEOs and attendees. Also many smaller group meetings, Mr. Attias said that 60 people in a group is the maximum. Further, as he said, at the end there must be a road map on regulations and transparency as needed to create renewed trust in the system. For years we had the feeling of credibility, what happened recently made us lose that feeling and we must restore it.
Several days after the meeting there will be a “white book” – 100% transparent, open to the media – at least to the web – and press releases.
Three days after the meeting Rubinstein Communications Inc. will have the result of the dialogue in the form of a document – “REINVENTING THE BUSINESS MODEL.”
We got enthused by the fact that Mr. Attias said that while now there are 600,000 cars on the global roads every day, when China matches us in the ratio of cars per people, there might be 2 billion cars on the roads of the planet – and this is not negotiable. Different transportation systems must be established.
indeed, in his briefing Mr. Attias did not go into details of a green economy, or of the actual alternatives that must evolve. We realized that in ways he wants to keep his neutrality before the dialogue, but it is clear that no results are possible if all our favorite arguments will not be part of this dialogue. Therefore we are confident that the Forum can be the answer to just what the doctor found in his diagnosis: The crisis started in New York and the road map will be drawn in New York in order to effect the financial institutions, that will from now on, have to handle with complete transparency the requirements of sustainability.

He picked New York also because its rich cultural life, in this respect it might be more to the point then going away to a retreat.
With a composition as diverse as including people from South Africa, India, Dubai, Korea, etc. a process of innovation may be started at this forum. He has extended invitations to Sovereign Funds- so governments like Saudi Arabia will be present.
Problems started as for years political leaders were out to reduce costs, but the problem that in the real world it led to the Greece crisis. Something has to change. Mme. Legarde is expected to address tis problem

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For The New York Forum

Contact:         Rubenstein Communications, Inc.

Iva Benson (212) 843-8271,  ibenson at rubenstein.com

Thomas Chiodo (212) 843-8289,  tchiodo at rubenstein.com

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 www.NY-FORUM.Com

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