The world’s elite annual jamboree is well past its expiration date

Some have already thrown in the towel. Former Abrdn boss Keith Skeoch said last April that the investment giant would withdraw from meetings, which would cost the company around £ 3million a year. While activists and politicians enter for free, company representatives are forced to pay 60,000 Swiss francs (£ 47,185) to be a low-level member of the WEF and an additional 27,000 francs to attend the four-day event . Annual membership fees for higher levels would cost up to 600,000 francs.

In times of crisis, “the very idea of ​​a global elite reunion at a Swiss ski resort divides,” Skeoch told the Daily Mail last year. Money saved from sending executives to Davos will instead go to dementia helplines, food banks and deep cleaning of care homes.

In political circles, there have been fears about what it might look like to hang out with VIPs on the slopes. Boris Johnson has ordered his ministers to boycott the January 2020 rally so they are not seen sipping champagne with the world’s rich. Harvard professor Samuel Huntington, who coined the phrase “Davos Man,” wrote in 2004 that a new global elite had emerged.

Organizers have repeatedly argued that the conference was not a “jet set trip.” It’s about discussing the key issues facing the world, raising important questions, and then collectively developing a plan. The good intentions are there. But talking about problems does not mean they are solved.

Getting on a private jet to discuss climate change just doesn’t make sense. The mysterious virus that was spreading across China during the January 2020 summit has gone almost unnoticed. A major global crisis had already started, but attention shifted elsewhere (the slogan for that year’s event was “Partners for a Coherent and Sustainable World”).

The alarm was only sounded briefly by speakers, a scientist from the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations – launched in Davos in 2017 – stressing during a panel discussion that “it may be the coronavirus we feared “because it is more easily transmitted and could become a disease which causes” hundreds of thousands of deaths, even millions “.

The next month, JP Morgan boss Jamie Dimon joked that he had “this sort of nightmare in Davos, all of us who have been there had it and then we all left and there ‘have spread. The only good news is that it could have just killed the elite. “

The world has changed dramatically since then. If Davos finally goes ahead this summer, as its organizers hope, then it must be different. The pandemic could spell the end of the meeting if it does not recognize its flaws. A more diverse group of people should be invited to the table. The review of the delayed event will be high.

Social inequalities have worsened during this pandemic. Forbes’ latest annual list of global billionaires shows the rich only get richer, with nearly 90% of global billionaires richer than they were a year ago. More and more people are traveling privately despite the climate crisis. If and when the Davos Plateau reclaims its VIP party, the world will be watching.


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