Davos World Economic Forum

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.

The COVID-19 pandemic limited the 51st annual Davos World Economic Forum in 2021 to virtual events. A special annual meeting planned in Singapore was rescheduled later that year and ultimately cancelled. The 2022 annual meeting, initially scheduled for Davos in January, was postponed amid a new wave of COVID-19 infections and held in Davos in May.

  • The Davos World Economic Forum is a headline-grabbing annual event that draws world leaders, CEOs, and journalists to a small town in Switzerland.
  • The event is sponsored by a not-for-profit organization that aims to use the tools of entrepreneurship in the public interest.
  • Usually held in January, the Davos event was staged entirely online in 2021 and delayed until May in 2022, when it returned to the ski resort for the first time in more than two years.
  • Russia's invasion of Ukraine and the resulting risks to the global economy and food supplies dominated the 2022 discussions.

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 changed its name to World Economic Forum in 1987.

The Davos meeting has long been World Economic Forum's highest-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 2022

The first in-person Davos World Economic Forum in more than two years was held May 22-26, 2022. Russia's invasion of Ukraine drew the most attention, sharing the spotlight with signs of an economic slowdown amid high inflation and rising interest rates. Among the headline-making events from the latest Davos:

  • President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky called for the tightening of economic sanctions against Russia to include a full embargo on the purchase of Russian crude oil and the complete isolation of Russian banks.
  • Billionaire George Soros warned Russia's invasion of Ukraine could spark a world war, describing it as the flashpoint of a global struggle between open and closed societies.
  • The head of the United Nations World Food Program, David Beasley, said Russia's blockade of Ukrainian ports was causing a global food crisis by keeping Ukrainian exports that feed 400 million people off the market.
  • International Monetary Fund Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva said the war in Ukraine dealt "a major setback for the recovery of the world economy" amid high inflation, leading the IMF to lower its global GDP growth forecast for 2022 to 3.6%, from 4.9% in October 2021.
  • Henry Kissinger, an official in the Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford administrations, said Ukraine should concede territory to Russia as part of a peace settlement.
  • Despite a market slump in the value of many cryptocurrencies, industry representatives turned up in force to promote their companies and views on regulation.

The World Economic Forum held its annual summit in Devos, Switzerland, between Jan. 16 and Jan. 20, 2023, following several years impacted by the pandemic. This year’s meeting, which brings together heads of government, business leaders, entrepreneurs, and civil society, aimed to address current global challenges, such as lingering inflation, the ongoing war in Ukraine, and global warming. Several highlights from the 2023 summit include the United States reaffirming its goal to keep global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius above preindustrial levels, Poland urging Berlin to send German-made tanks to Ukraine, and Microsoft Corp. (MSFT), announcing plans to incorporate artificial intelligence (AI) into its products.

The Davos Manifesto

In 2020 the World Economic Forum published a new "Davos Manifesto" updating its 1973 ethics code for business leaders, both authored by WEF founder and executive chair Klaus Schwab. The document calls on companies to "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."

Where and When is Davos World Economic Forum held?

The World Economic Forum holds its annual summit in Davos, Switzerland — usually in January each year. However, due to the Covid 19 pandemic, the 2021 meeting took place virtually for the first time in its history. In 2022, organizers rescheduled the event to May due to a global Covid outbreak before it returned to its traditional January schedule in 2023.

What are the Primary Objectives of the Davos World Economic Forum?

The summit aims to bring together world leaders and prominent business decision-makers to accelerate progress and address critical global challenges to make positive change. Agendas at the event change each year to discuss the pressing issues of the day.

Who Attends the Davos World Economic Forum?

Attendees at the summit typically include leading politicians, business leaders from major corporations, and those at the forefront of civil society. The global public can also engage with the event through live-streamed sessions, social media, and Forum hubs.

What Topics were Discussed at the 2023 Davos World Economic Forum?

Key topical themes discussed at this year’s summit included high energy and food prices, elevated levels of global inflation, industry headwinds, geopolitical risks, and climate initiatives.

The Bottom Line

The annual World Economic Forum held in Devos, Switzerland, provides an opportunity for politicians, business leaders, and civil society to convene and address critical global challenges. Since its first summit in 1974, the event has aimed to provide solutions that drive positive change in areas such as poverty reduction, climate change, and geopolitical tensions. In 2020, the World Economic Forum updated its "Davos Manifesto," which outlines an ethics code for leaders, providing guidance on handling taxes, corruption, and human rights. 

After disruptions during the pandemic, the in-person summit resumed in 2022 following an 18-month hiatus. In recent years, the meeting has tackled pressing issues, including the war in Ukraine, global food shortages, and rising inflation. 

Article Sources
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