Vatican City, 17 January – Caritas Internationalis Secretary General Lesley-Anne Knight will call for a renewed commitment to tackling poverty from the world’s most powerful political and economic leaders as she attends the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos, Switzerland.

The Secretary General of the Caritas Confederation’s 162 national Catholic charities says that reviving momentum behind the Millennium Development Goals will be her main objective at the Davos meeting, which begins Wednesday, 23 January.

The Millennium Development Goals are a series of anti-poverty targets that UN member states agreed to meet by 2015. Caritas says the targets will be mostly missed, partly due to broken promises on funding by some of the world’s richest nations.

The annual WEF brings together business leaders, politicians and heads of state, with artists, academics, religious leaders, and other civil society representatives. It will be the first time a Caritas Internationalis Secretary General has attended the WEF.

The Davos meeting has been criticised in the past as a ‘talking shop’ for the rich and powerful. Caritas believes it is important to engage with policy makers on issues such as climate change, poverty and development, global governance, migration, inter-faith dialogue and peace-building.

Ms Knight said: “This is an excellent opportunity to ensure that the world’s poor are not forgotten when business and political leaders plan our futures. The World Economic Forum aims to ‘improve the state of the world’, but the question I shall be asking is: ‘whose world?’ The world of the rich has certainly improved over the 30-plus years that the WEF has been in existence, but that of many of the poorest people has not improved at all.

“I hope that there is a genuine desire among participants to tackle inequality. I will take every opportunity to call on world leaders, in particular those from the richest nations, to honour the commitments they made to achieve the Millennium Development Goals. I want to see the business community too get behind this vital effort to make a real impact on poverty by 2015.

“The theme for this year’s meeting is ‘The Power of Collaborative Innovation’ and I am keen to explore how Caritas can collaborate in innovative ways to harness the expertise and goodwill that exists in the WEF community.”

Caritas member organisations are also taking part in various worldwide events for the World Social Forum, which provides a space for discussion on alternative paths to sustainable development.

For interviews with Lesley-Anne Knight, please call Caritas Internationalis Head of Communications Patrick Nicholson at +39 06 698 79725 or +39 334 3590700 and email: nicholson@caritas.va.