The fourth State of the World Forum officially opened at the Fairmont Hotel in San Francisco today with over one thousand delegates and speakers registering their attendance.
For many participants from all over the world, the journey to the Fairmont was far from easy. One of the Forum's distinguished speakers, Judge Navanethem Pillay, traveled for 30 hours from Tanzania, where she is serving as one of six judges on the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda.
Judge Pillay said it was important for her to come all the way to the Forum because it reached out to so many people. She expected a lot of work to be done - especially in discussion about areas of conflict like Rwanda and Kosovo.
While many delegates are only meeting each other for the first time to discover common interests, others are seasoned Forum attendees.
For Hans-Peter Durr, a nuclear physicist, former head of the Max Planck Institute, and also of Greenpeace in Germany, it is the fourth Forum he has attended. He was here when the Forum first began, back in 1995. Dr Durr said the Forum's co-founder, Mikhail Gorbachev, attended that one, along with former British Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher, and former U.S. President George Bush. He said he had not believed that having such diverse people in one room could work, but it did. Today, the Forum was going from strength to strength, with a huge number of Forum delegates continuing to talk to each other and search for solutions.
The Forum is officially launched tonight, with addresses from the three co-moderators, Jim Garrison, Mahnaz Afkhami, and Lynne Twist, as well as a welcome from San Francisco Mayor, Willie Brown. There will be keynote addresses from Reginald K. Brack, the Chairman Emeritus of Time Warner Publishing Inc.; Mae Jemison, a former astronaut and now President of the Jemison Group; the founder of the Body Shop, Anita Roddick; and Robert Shapiro, the chairman and chief executive of Monsanto.