July 4, 2022

The World Economic Forum wrestles with the image problem

The World Economic Forum wrestles with the image problem

The World Economic Forum is trying to fix the image problem.

Nearly 2,500 business, political and civil society leaders are expected to participate in this week’s rare spring edition of Davos.

The annual meeting will see movers and shakers meet at the luxury Alpine ski resort of Davos in Switzerland for five days of talks on issues including Covid-19, the Russian war in Ukraine and the climate crisis.

Event organizers were meeting time From the traditional January box on safety concerns amid the coronavirus pandemic. However, in a welcome boost to locals, the forum’s first in-person event is now back after a two-year hiatus.

The Trait From this year’s event is “History at a Turning Point: Government Policies and Business Strategies”.

“It means a lot to us. It means a lot to all of Switzerland,” Samuel Rosenast, a spokesman for the local tourism board, said in an interview with CNBC. Tom Chetty.

Rosenast said the event was “incredibly important” for those residing in Europe’s highest city, and he estimates the resort could see windfall gains of around CHF70 million ($72 million) in this week alone.

“Every business is connected to the World Economic Forum. People know how important it is,” Rosenast said. “Most people here are looking forward to the World Economic Forum. They are happy that it is being held here again this year.”

“A symbol of a failed era”

This does not mean that everyone is pleased to see the return of the world’s business and political elite to the Swiss Alps. This event has been heavily criticized in recent years for being out of touchAnd inactive And accidental.

Three years ago, Dutch historian Rutger Bregmann published widely on one of the Davos committees When billionaires called for tax evasion. In a clip that has now been viewed nearly 11 million times, Bregman said the global failure to effectively tackle tax evasion was the main cause of inequality.

“I feel like I’m in a firefighter’s conference and no one is allowed to talk about water,” Bregman said at the time. “This is not rocket science… We should be talking about taxes. That’s it. Taxes, taxes, taxes.”

The Swiss ski resort of Davos hosts the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum.

Harold Cunningham | Getty Images News | Getty Images

Recently, protesters, activists, and people on the front lines of inequality have sought to challenge the World Economic Forum on “empty rhetoricHe accused Davos of representing “a symbol of a failed era” that must be left behind.

A report published by global charity Oxfam on Monday found that 573 people have become new billionaires during the coronavirus pandemic – an average of one every 30 hours. The brief, entitled Capitalizing on Pain, predicts that an additional 263 million people will fall into extreme poverty this year at a rate of one million people every 33 hours.

“Billionaires are arriving in Davos to celebrate the incredible boom in their fortunes. The pandemic and sharp increases in food and energy prices have, quite simply, been their reward,” said Gabriella Bucher, Executive Director of Oxfam International.

“Meanwhile, decades of progress in the fight against extreme poverty is now going in reverse and millions of people are facing impossible increases in the cost of just surviving.”

In his youth, Philip Wilhelm was a protester of the annual gathering of billionaires and political leaders in the city where he was born. Now, however, Wilhelm is the mayor of Davos, and his goal is to have a successful meeting.

“I needed during the annual meeting because, for me, it was important to express that it was really important that we solve this climate crisis. And we need to make the world a fairer place,” Wilhelm said.

Wilhelm said he took part in the protests because he felt it was necessary to make sure that everyone arriving in Davos “receives the message that it is really important to resolve these issues.”

The “Davos man” in itself became synonymous with the stereotypical personality of a typical forum participant – rich and powerful, perhaps elusive, but most of all a representative of the world elite.

Fabrice Cofferini | Afp | Getty Images

Wilhelm said he – and the World Economic Forum – have changed their positions since the days of protest, adding that he believes he can influence policy more effectively in his current role.

When asked if it was a matter of concern that criticism of the World Economic Forum had become so relevant to Davos given that the city itself had become so largely interchangeable with the forum, Wilhelm replied: “No, it doesn’t bother me at all.”

“I think it is interesting for people to know Davos as a place where people meet and debate – and I mean it has to be controversial. There has to be a discussion about the right way to improve the state of the world,” Wilhelm said.

Davos 2022 ‘One Mark at the Right Time’

“The work of the forum continues. The meeting is one sign at the right time,” said Saadia Zahidi, managing director of the World Economic Forum.

“What we’ve been doing for the past two and a half years – while not visible through a particular meeting – is a set of actions trying to make an impact on inequality while also making changes towards tackling one of the biggest existential risks we all face which is climate change” .

When asked if rising income inequality has become a particular problem for the forum, Zahedi replied: “Inequality is a problem for the world. I think we know that societies that don’t fight inequality will have slower growth.”

“So an effort must be made to tackle inequality. Now, what does that do? Better education, better skills, better jobs, tackling issues like taxes and changing the nature of our economies so that they actually work for the people and not just for the sake of that will be high on the agenda,” said Zahedi. Next week and center.”