(London) More than 60 heads of state and government and hundreds of business leaders will travel to Switzerland next week to discuss the world’s biggest challenges at the World Economic Forum’s annual gathering in Davos.
The organizers announced Tuesday that they were expecting figures such as US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Chinese Premier Li Qiang, Israeli President Isaac Herzog, President Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, French President Emmanuel Macron and UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres.
Participants will have their work cut out for them, with two major wars – the Israel-Hamas conflict and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine – plus issues like climate change, major trade disruptions in the Red Sea, a weak global economy and disinformation fueled by the rapid advancement of artificial intelligence, during a major election year across the globe.
Confidence in peace and security has eroded, with global cooperation declining since 2016 and plummeting since 2020, forum president Borge Brende said during a press briefing on Tuesday.
“In Davos, we will make sure to bring the right people together to see how we can also end this very difficult world and look at opportunities for cooperation,” he said.
Mr. Brende noted that there were fears about the escalation of the conflict in the Middle East and that key speakers – including the prime ministers of Qatar, Lebanon and Jordan, as well as Israeli President Herzog – were coming to Davos to “see how to avoid further deterioration and also what is possible next, because we also need to provide some glimmers of hope.”
Mr. Zelensky will deliver a speech next week at the Davos Forum, while more than 70 national security advisers from around the world will meet on Sunday to discuss ways to advance the Ukrainian president’s peace plan, Mr. Brende said . This is the fourth meeting of this group, but Russian officials have never participated.
Major figures including US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan, Argentina’s new President Javier Milei, OpenAI CEO Sam Altman and Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella will discuss big ideas in hundreds of sessions public and speeches, or in other discussions surrounding the event.
There are also more secret behind-the-scenes negotiations at high-end hotels along the Davos promenade, near the conference center that hosts the forum itself.
It is not yet clear to what extent all these discussions will result in big announcements. The glitzy World Economic Forum event has been criticized for being a place where high-profile figures talk big ideas but make little progress in finding solutions to the world’s biggest challenges.
The forum has also been criticized for hosting wealthy executives who sometimes travel on GHG-emitting business jets.