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Good morning this is Paula. As Davos winds down, we talk to people at the WEF’s annual event about what it may be achieving amid ambitions to respond to emerging crises, and what international Geneva’s presence there means.

While the Alpine resort was crawling with representatives from UN agencies, did meaningful discussions take place or were they there just as tokens? That’s at least what one observer wonders.

photo journaliste

Paula Dupraz-Dobias


Finding a voice amid the business talk

Photo article

Speakers at a Swiss-sponsored event including, from left, Peter Brabeck-Letmathe, WEF vice chairman, Swiss foreign minister Ignazio Cassis, Naneli Pandor, South Africa’s minister of international relations and cooperation, Tatiana Valovaya, UN director general in Geneva, Nathalie Fontanet, Geneva state councillor, Mirjana Spoljaric Egger, ICRC president, and Volker Türk, UN high commissioner for human rights. 17 January 2023. (Geneva Solutions/Paula Dupraz-Dobias)

Promising record participation by government officials, international organisations and civil society representatives, WEF founder Klaus Schwab said the annual meeting would “try to make sure that leaders do not remain trapped in a crisis mindset and adopt more longer-term constructive perspectives”, towards the unprecedented multiple crises at hand.

WEF titled its meeting “Cooperation in a Fragmented World”, to reflect those ambitions. The 85 year-old fixture at the Geneva-based think tank told journalists the meeting would “shape the future in a more sustainable, more inclusive and more resilient way”.

Earlier this week, some participants expressed, mostly off-the-record, frustration about how inclusive the meeting was towards multilateral organisations and the wider international community.

Aside from the forum’s strategic members who pay hundreds of thousands of dollars for the privilege of participating in many of the closed door meetings taking place in Davos, WEF invites public figures to talk and meet with interested stakeholders. The convergence of many of these actors in Switzerland often leads to further conversations, such as on Wednesday between the US treasury secretary, Janet Yellen, and Chinese vice premier Liu He in Zurich amid tense political and economic relations between the two countries.

But mid-way through the week in Davos and three years after the traditional winter edition was suspended by the pandemic, it was back to business as normal, with business leading the agenda and observers annoyed at the lack of substantive discussions on global crises.

Read the full story on Geneva Solutions (EN)

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