What is Davos 2024? World Economic Forum guide

Exploring the annual meeting’s significance
What is Davos 2024? World Economic Forum guide
Davos 2024 takes place from January 15 to 19

For over 50 years now, the World Economic Forum (WEF) has been at the forefront of fostering international cooperation between public and private sectors. Headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland, it plays a central role in shaping global, regional and industry agendas. Annually, WEF engages prominent leaders from politics, business and other sectors in Davos, Switzerland. Davos 2024 marks another significant milestone for the organization as influential figures are set to convene under the theme “Rebuilding Trust.” 

What is Davos 2024?

The WEF Annual Meeting 2024 will gather global leaders to discuss the current global situation and set priorities for the upcoming year. In the face of geopolitical conflicts, disinformation and escalating environmental threats, the 54th meeting will mainly concentrate on the potential offered by new technologies and how they affect decision-making and worldwide cooperation.

“We face a fractured world and growing societal divides, leading to pervasive uncertainty and pessimism. We have to rebuild trust in our future by moving beyond crisis management, looking at the root causes of the present problems, and building together a more promising future,” said Klaus Schwab. He is the founder and executive chairman of WEF. 

Like previous meetings, the 2024 event will serve as a key platform for promoting collaboration between the public and private sectors. According to WEF, nearly 3,000 people are attending. These include 60 heads of state and government. 

When and where is Davos 2024 happening?

This year’s WEF meeting will take place from January 15 to 19. The Swiss ski resort town of Davos will once again host it as it did since the first Davos meeting in 1971. Davos is also the highest town in Europe. While it’s renowned for its winter sports and alpine setting, it also has a place in history as one of the most important hubs of global dialogue. 

Read: Davos 2024: What to expect from the World Economic Forum

What is the World Economic Forum?

Swiss-German professor Klaus Schwab started in 1971 as a platform for European management strategies and evolved to address global issues. 

Schwab worked as a professor at the University of Geneva until 2003 and was also a member of various boards and international advisory groups. After leaving the university, he fully committed to expanding the Forum, turning it into a well-known international organization that facilitates collaboration between public and private sectors.

As an international non-profit organization, it aims to unite the public and private sectors to develop solutions to worldwide challenges. This aligns with its mission to improve the state of the world. The first WEF meeting occurred in Davos, Switzerland, which has since become the regular venue and synonymous name for the annual event.

Today, the Forum is led by Schwab and a Board of Trustees. This Board, consisting of leaders from various fields like business, politics, and civil society, ensures the Forum stays true to its mission and values without representing any personal interests. The Board has a balanced mix of business leaders and representatives from international organizations and civil society. The Forum’s day-to-day activities are managed by the Managing Board, led by President Børge Brende. This board is responsible for carrying out the Forum’s mission and handles its external relations, reporting back to the Board of Trustees.

Davos 2024

Davos meetings through the years

Over its five-decade history, Davos has been instrumental in attaining global milestones. In 1976, for instance, it bridged a dialogue between the Arab world and the West. Meanwhile, 1979 saw China’s first participation. It also held pivotal discussions in the late 1980s and contributed to the end of the Cold War.

A significant milestone in 1992 was the joint appearance of Nelson Mandela and South African President FW de Klerk, contributing to the end of apartheid and leading to their joint Nobel Peace Prize in 1993. Additionally, in 2000, the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunisation (Gavi) was launched at Davos, crucial in vaccinating 760 million children worldwide. In 2002, the Forum held its annual meeting in New York instead of Davos. This was the only time the meeting was held outside of Davos, done as a gesture of support for the United States and New York City following the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

In recent years, there has been a growing emphasis on environmental crises and digital inclusion. And in 2021, WEF hosted the first-ever virtual Davos due to COVID-19. 

The Davos meeting in 2022 was notable for several firsts. It was the first spring meeting, the first in-person event since the COVID-19 outbreak, and the first since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. It was also the first gathering of global climate leaders after COP26. The meeting, held in May instead of the usual winter setting, focused on the war’s impact on the global economy and the food and energy crises. 

The 2023 meeting, back in its traditional January slot, addressed a “polycrisis,” which refers to multiple interconnected global challenges, as outlined in the 2023 Global Risks Report. In this event, leaders discussed the economic outlook, energy security, technology, the climate crisis and trade resilience.

Final thoughts

Davos 2024, scheduled for January 15 to 19, continues the World Economic Forum’s legacy of global cooperation. Emphasizing the theme of “Rebuilding Trust,” this year’s meeting in Davos will focus on fostering public-private collaboration to address current global challenges, maintaining the Forum’s commitment to shaping a better and more trusting world.

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