Apart from geopolitical tensions, AI, slowing growth rates in the global economy and the climate emergency will be the top discussion points, when global leaders meet from January 15.
WEF President Borge Brende expects much of this year’s focus to be high-level diplomatic talks on the wars in Ukraine and West Asia.
‘We will make sure that we bring together the right people … To see how we can solve this very challenging world,’ Brende said.
World Economic Forum has long been seen as an ‘elite’ club, with membership rates starting from $69,000 and going up to $600,000 for businesspeople from some of the world’s largest corporations.
With around $300,000 spent on travel and stay for the weeklong event, many have asked whether attendees are ‘out of touch.’
Visuals of many attendees jet-setting to the meeting, many of them talk about climate change and sustainability, have attracted criticism.
Greenpeace activists slammed attendees for the ‘distasteful master class in hypocrisy. ‘
For over a decade now, every Davos meeting raises one big question, is the annual summit losing relevance as the world turns more uncertain, is it just a glorified tour for the rich?
The war in Ukraine has dominated the last two World Economic Forum meetings, with very little change to the situation.
Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky is again expected to make a speech at Davos 2024. But it is unclear if any Russian officials would attend.
On the economic front, the event has continued amid the COVID-19 pandemic and a global economic slowdown amid rising inflation.
In the same period, corporate profits have reached record-levels while over 500 million people entered extreme poverty, putting the focus on increasing income inequality.
Karl Schwab, the WEF’s founder, champions globalization. In a 2017 article, he argued that globalization has pulled over a billion people out of poverty.
But he did agree that ‘in its present form, globalisation is no longer fit for purpose in our current context.’
Data also points to the gradual decline of ‘neoliberal’ globalization – of the kind often associated with the WEF.
Global trade, as a percentage of the world’s Gross Domestic Product, is now at levels seen in crisis-hit 2008.
The ongoing US-China trade war, along with the tensions in West Asia and Europe, are only going to make matters worse.
WEF organizers have also emphasized the attendance of key leaders from the ‘Global South,’ with India making its presence felt at Davos. Several Indian states, including Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu and Karnataka, will pitch themselves as an investment destination.
Apart from India, the African continent will expand its presence this year, aiming to foster greater collaboration with the developed world.
The Davos summit provides a global platform for the ‘Global South’ to woo the world’s biggest corporations.
Nevertheless, previous meetings have not resulted in any meaningful investment in countries needing it badly.
This year’s theme reflects the changing dynamics of the world, where geopolitics is increasingly dictating trade and economics.
Terms like ‘de-globalization’, trade fragmentation and ‘nearshoring’ are becoming a reality.
Is the World Economic Forum adapting to the changes or will it become irrelevant?
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