What is Davos? And why should I care?

What is Davos? And why should I care?
Fecha de publicación: 
17 January 2024
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The World Economic Forum - more commonly referred to as Davos - carries a bit of a stereotype. Housed in the snowy peaks of the Swiss Alps, the conference has a reputation for being an Old-Boys Club complete with drinking, dancing, and debauchery. In reality, the event has evolved into a multi-faceted summit that touches on human rights almost as much as it does economics. Here is a breakdown of the lavish event.

What is Davos?

Davos is more than a pint-size, Swiss ski town. It’s also the host of The World Economic Forum – the annual event attended by celebs, moneymen, and world leaders to come and talk about economics. With important people, big-shot businesspeople, earnest humanitarians appealing to the rich, and a tableaux of ice-capped mountains (see below!), who wouldn’t want to attend this shindig?

And what happens exactly?

Imagine Davos as the most influential of dinner parties. The event is the king of gilded conferences, where attendees spend big bucks to exchange platitudes, rub shoulders with the likes of Matt Damon, and carouse in the exclusive ski resort.

Davos provides a platform for the extremely wealthy to mingle with policy-makers and scholars to debate over leading world events. While questionable whether being wealthy automatically makes you a global policy expert, it does mean you have the resources to make change. Davos is an opportunity for socially minded investors to provide insight on pressing public issues-and at very least these folks have the money to help implement change.

Can you explain the point of rich people (mostly Western men) meeting to discuss social issues?

Yes, Davos is attended by mainly the same kind of people - and that is mainly super successful (read: wealthy) business men. But the point of Davos isn’t so much about deal making surrounding policy issues, it’s about networking. Davos allows a location for business tycoons to discuss world events and social impact endeavors in connection to economics. The 25,000 individuals who attend, talk about investing in global trends to push forward regional and industry transformation - and merge private and public interests.

Interesting model for social change! What’s the key focuses during the 2015 forum?

The agenda for 2015 focuses on developing countries – think of it as a coming out party for emerging markets – and the pressing global threats to stability of the world over the next 10 years. The United States is also taking center stage as business and world leaders consider the nation’s economic resiliency in the aftermath of the Great Recession.

The swanky foray also plans to talk about gender inequality, climate change, and the digital economy. This is a positive step – and hopefully the discussion will yield actual results. Davos doesn’t have the best reputation for inclusivity. With only 15 percent of attendees in 2014 being women, the event is a micro reflection of a macro problem on how wealth is unequally distributed amongst the genders globally. So its especially good to see this group taking on gender issues.

Further, considering the vast wealth of the majority of Davos attendees, there is an irony that the conference is focusing on social instability, considering the world’s 85 richest people have the same wealth as the entire bottom 50 percent.

So what are you really saying?

Despite the nebulous theme of this year’s 2015 Davos conference – “the new global context” – what’s clear is the event is an opportunity for the powerful to mingle. The reason that key players in the global economy come to this remote Swiss ski-resort yearly is to build connections that hopefully will move the economy in the direction of being more sustainable, accessible, and open. With charismatic activist and influencers in attendance, such as Bill Clinton and Bono, it’s important to recognize the potential of collaboration between individuals working on social issues and private sector folks, particularly as social entrepreneurship becomes more of an emerging theme in the developing economy.

Is it too optimistic to hope that amidst the $500 dollar bottles of California wine and late-night karaoke by the likes of Randi Zuckerberg that Davos 2015 will have some positive results or at least inspire a more thoughtful look at wealth distrubution by those who control the bulk of the world ecomony? What is your impression of the events at the World Economic Forum? Are you optimistic over the potential for world leaders and business people to make change – or is the best form of activism grassroots based?

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