The World Economic Forum is back from quarantine with no time to spare! This elite gathering in the Swiss Alps was back after a two-year coronavirus hiatus. Business gurus, political leaders, and energetic activists came together to take the urgent issues of the day around the world.
Their goal is a pretty bit, to help improve the state of the world. Those who organize the event had more than enough on their global plate: Russia’s war in Ukraine, rising food and fuel prices, climate change, food shortages due to war, drought, and supply chain issues, and the ongoing inequality worldwide between the haves and the have nots.
Oh, and there are always those dictator regimes trying to expand the domains.
In the midst of all the strategic discussions this forum will have, it is hard to know if they will bring any substantial change to the chaos around the globe.
Certainly, the war in Ukraine will get top billing. President Volodymyr Zelenskyy will address the group on its opening day by video from Kyiv. There will be a large delegation of Ukrainian officials on-site, including Ukraine’s foreign minister.
Other speakers will include German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, U.S. climate envoy John Kerry, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg, and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen.
The president of the World Economic Forum is Borge Brende. He told the Associated Press, “There’s no business as usual.” He wanted the media to know that the whole event would not just focus on Ukraine. “It is also climate change. It is also that the global growth is slowing, and we have to avoid this very weak recovery ends with a new recession because we have very limited ammunition to fight a new recession. A new recession will lead to increased unemployment, and increased poverty. So much is at stake.”
One of the countries that won’t be represented at this worldwide forum in Russia. President Vladimir Putin’s war caused those leaders not to be invited this year. So that means that those who attend will not have their traditional “Russia House” festivities. This usually involves caviar, vodka, and a pretty fun evening.
Leaders from Ukraine will seize the opportunity to highlight Russia’s war crimes. “This year, Russia is not present at Davos, but its crimes will not go unnoticed. The ‘Russia War Crimes House’ takes place inside the former Russia House,” Ukrainian leadership reported in a press release.
The reclaimed venue will now feature photos of crimes and cruelties that Russia is accused of doing. There will be victims there sharing their stories including Anatoliy Fedoruk, the mayor of Bucha.
The artistic director of PinchukArtCentre, Bjorn Geldhof, is helping to organize the exhibit. “Part of this exhibition is also to bring back a human face to those people who have become victim of these Russian war crimes,” Geldhof said.
The goal is for many CEOs and business leaders to see ways the private sector can support Ukraine.
Some will be protesting this event. Several dozen anti-capitalist demonstrators were holding a “Smash WEF” banner at the venue on Friday. This is a sign of simmering anguish against economic elites who the demonstrators believe put profits before people. The Switzerland police used rubber bullets and pepper spray against the protesting crowd.
After the focus on Ukraine, climate and environmental issues will take center stage. In fact, one-third of the approximately 270-panel discussions through Thursday’s finale will focus on climate change or its effects. These discussions will center around extreme weather, the effort to reach “net zero” emissions, and the search for new clean sources of energy.
Some experts predict a whole lot of cheering, but very little real change.