Anyone who carries some weight in the way things move in the world, be it political, military or financial, this week was holed up in Davos.
Everyone who mattered was there — even if they disagree.
Davos annually plays host to the World Economic Forum (WEF), the body which organizes Davos every year. It’s an annual meeting of global political and business elites and, now in its 50th edition, remains the world’s most important watering hole built on the idea that the world needs better co-operation between the private and public sectors to tackle global challenges.
This year’s theme was, Stakeholders for a Cohesive and Sustainable World and as expected, the technology sector maintained its dominance at the World Economic Forum.
Davos has been the target of much criticism seeing that it is basically a private meeting of the rich and powerful. Critics claim the WEF is a “talking shop” incapable of delivering meaningful change. Some argue that it is public mobilisation and public anger that will lead to progressive change and not what is said and done in Davos, because it will always be business as usual if it is good business for those at the top.
But for some observers difference palpable in the air this year, with one of the main attractions being Greta Thunberg, the Swedish climate activist.
Where Davos 2019 was focused on technology, with the 4th industrial revolution being the theme, this year the WEF was all about stakeholders in a cohesive and sustainable world.
This year’s meeting featured the participation of a wider array of climate heroes than ever before.
Aware as ever of the criticism targeted at WEF, this year’s meeting was more action-oriented than ever. Or, in the words of Founder and Executive Chairman Klaus Schwab, a “Do shop, not a talk shop.” Helping bring about systemic change to return our planet to a sustainable path with an unprecedented number of leaders from across civil society trying to make progress at the community, national and global level.
Thunberg took the stage at the WEF to admonish world leaders for doing “basically nothing” to reduce carbon emissions despite evidence of a looming climate catastrophe. The teen activist said awareness of the climate crisis had shot up but in other respects, not much had changed.
On the whole, Davos remained what as it has been for these last 50 years: a junket that has shrewdly realized that offering a stage to an anti-Davos crowd can work in its favour as happened this year
Many have tried to emulate Davos but failed at being either as neutral or as exclusive as the original.