The World Economic Forum Annual Meeting kicked off January 16th to 20th in Davos, Switzerland. At the conference, more than 2,700 leaders, including 52 heads of state from 130 countries, will discuss the most pressing issues of the day, including the war between Russia and Ukraine and climate change.
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Davos is not known to many. But when the world’s elite gather in a small town in January for the annual World Economic Forum (WEF) gathering, it becomes the world’s attention. After the two-year break due to COVID-19, world luminaries gathered in the 2024 edition of the Global Gathering to discuss the future direction of life on Earth and the pressing issues of the day.
But what is WEF? Why is it held in Davos and why is it important? Here are the facts about Davos and the WEF. The World Economic Forum is a non-profit foundation founded in 1971 by the Swiss-German economist and professor Klaus Schwab to promote global cooperation on political, social and economic issues.
As explained on its website, the Forum believes that “progress comes from bringing together people from all walks of life who are motivated and influential to create positive change.”
Originally called the European Management Forum, it changed its name to the World Economic Forum in 1987 and sought to broaden its scope to include providing a platform for settling international disputes. As the BBC explains, the forum is officially a conference with endless speeches and sessions on everything from the global economic outlook to dealing with stress.
For the most part, Forum delegates build a tireless network, with bilateral meetings between heads of state and business leaders taking up much of the schedule.
Since its inception, the World Economic Forum has been held in Davos, Switzerland, known for its skiing. But Davos’ choice is neither arbitrary nor accidental. In its story, the organisation says the election was more than just a landscape: Davos was the setting for Thomas Mann’s novel The Magic Mountain. The book tells the story of a young man who went to Davos and stayed in a sanatorium where he stayed for three weeks and eventually spent seven years there.
Today, more than 2,700 leaders from all walks of life have converged on Davos to step up security in the sleepy city. More than 5,000 Swiss Army personnel were reportedly deployed to this small town, turning it into a fortress to ensure the safety of thousands of leaders around the world for a week.
What’s on the Agenda?
The World Economic Forum’s annual meeting in Davos will focus on the ongoing Russia-Ukraine war and its impact on the global economy, as well as the pressing issue of climate change.
Speakers at the event, such as former US Vice President Al Gore, will discuss topics such as decarbonization and building clean energy infrastructure. Additionally, there will be sessions on adapting to climate change, protecting biodiversity, and addressing deforestation. The WEF’s Global Risks Report has also highlighted a potential “polycrisis” in 2024, which will likely be a significant topic of discussion at the Davos gathering.