What is the Davos World Economic Forum?

The Davos World Economic Forum brings together business leaders, politicians, and journalists once a year to discuss current global economic and social challenges. It is the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum and is usually held in January in the ski town of Davos, Switzerland.

Due to the disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the 51st annual Davos World Economic Forum for 2021 was limited to virtual events.

  • The Davos World Economic Forum is a headline-grabbing annual event that draws business and political leaders to a small town in Switzerland.
  • The 51st annual meeting in 2021 was a virtual event due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • The event is sponsored by a not-for-profit organization that aims to use the tools of entrepreneurship in the public interest.

Understanding the Davos World Economic Forum

The World Economic Forum is a not-for-profit organization founded in 1971 to "demonstrate entrepreneurship in the global public interest." Initially called the European Management Forum, the organization's name was changed to the World Economic Forum in 1987.

The Davos meeting has long been its most high-profile event. According to the organization, the annual meeting “engages the most experienced and the most promising, all working together in the collaborative and collegial spirit of Davos.”

Davos World Economic Forum 2020

The last in-person Davos World Economic Forum before the pandemic upended global travel was held in January 2020. Some of the headline-making events from that year's Davos:

  • Billionaire George Soros warned that the U.S. could be headed toward calamity due to then-President Donald Trump's effort to bolster American businesses and stocks before the 2020 election.
  • Former Vice President Al Gore compared the climate crisis to history's greatest battles and said it was "way worse" than many realize" and was intensifying "way faster" than many people appreciate.
  • Climate activist Greta Thunberg repeated her message from the previous year at Davos, saying that "our house is still on fire."
  • Then-U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin criticized Greta Thunberg, suggesting that she study economics before lecturing on fossil fuel investment.
  • Billionaire investor Paul Tudor Jones said the stock market at that time was reminiscent of the late stages of the bull market in 1999 that was followed by the dot-com bust.

Davos World Economic Forum 2021

The January 2021 meeting of the Davos World Economic Forum brought together 1,700 people, but only virtually.

Not surprisingly, many of the year's discussions focused on the pandemic.

Much of it focused on the fragility of the global supply chain that the pandemic revealed.

The Davos Manifesto

The World Economic Forum has issued a new "Davos Manifesto," attributed to Klaus Schwab, the organization's founder and still its executive chairman. This document states that all companies should "pay their fair share of taxes, show zero tolerance for corruption, uphold human rights throughout their supply chains, and advocate for a competitive level playing field."