In this feature, we look at what is known as ‘Davos’ is, why it exists, plus how it can help the worlds of business and technology.
What Is It?
The World Economic Forum (WEF) is an annual meeting held in Davos, a small ski resort town in the Swiss Alps. The WEF meeting in Davos brings together leaders in the business, political and academic communities to discuss and address the most pressing issues facing the world. The meeting is held to facilitate dialogue and collaboration among these leaders in order to find solutions to global problems such as economic inequality, political instability, and environmental degradation. The WEF meeting is also an opportunity for leaders to network and form partnerships to drive positive change in the world.
What Is WEF?
WEF is an international not-for-profit organization, founded in 1971 by Swiss-German economist and professor Klaus Schwab, with the mission of bringing public and private sectors together to address the global political, social, and economic issues. WEF meetings have taken place annually in Davos for 5 decades, although the 2002 meeting was held in New York as gesture of solidarity following the 9/11 attacks.
Who And When?
This year’s Davos has already taken place (16-20 January 2023) and the theme was “Cooperation in a Fragmented World”. Full details can be found here: https://www.weforum.org/events/world-economic-forum-annual-meeting-2023
Business and Davos
Given that the invite-only meetings bring public and private sector business executives and policymakers together to discuss a wide range of issues, some of the ways Davos affects business include:
– Facilitating networking and collaboration opportunities for business leaders, which can lead to new partnerships and investments.
– Providing a platform for business leaders to share their perspectives on economic and political issues, and to shape public policy.
– Highlighting emerging trends and technologies that may impact the business landscape.
– Offering insights and analysis on global issues that can affect the economic environment in which companies operate.
– The presence of representatives of non-profit organisations, civil society, and academia, creates opportunities for companies to engage in socially responsible initiatives and to contribute to sustainable development.
Technology and Davos
The Davos meetings also affect the world of technology in a number of ways. For example:
– Highlighting emerging trends and technologies that may impact the business landscape and the economy.
– Facilitating networking and collaboration opportunities for technology leaders, which can lead to new partnerships and investments.
– Providing a platform for technology leaders to share their perspectives on economic and political issues and to shape public policy.
– Offering insights and analysis on global issues that can affect the technological landscape, such as the impact of automation, artificial intelligence, and digital transformation.
– Creating opportunities for technology companies to engage in socially responsible initiatives and to contribute to sustainable development.
– Organising (WEF) the Annual Meeting of the New Champions (also known as Summer Davos – which actually takes place in China). The event, which began in 2007, is a more technology-focused one, bringing together global leaders to discuss the latest trends and innovations in technology, science, and engineering.
One reported example of how the recent Davos WEF meeting highlighted new technologies is Meta’s Chris Cox commenting in the tech press about how generative artificial intelligence (the chatbot ChatGPT) has the capability to create image filters (a digital technique for changing the look of an image through an algorithm) for Meta’s company’s Instagram app and other applications.
Successes of Davos
Three examples of real life successes that have come from the Davos WEF meetings are:
– The Global Vaccine Action Plan, which was launched at the 2011 WEF meeting in Davos, which has been successful in increasing vaccination rates and reducing the number of deaths from vaccine-preventable diseases worldwide.
– The World Economic Forum’s Great Energy Transition initiative, launched in 2016 at Davos WEF, which has been successful in bringing together governments, businesses, and other stakeholders to accelerate the transition to a low-carbon energy system.
– In 2020, the World Economic Forum’s “Great Reset” initiative was launched during the WEF meeting in Davos, which aims to drive a comprehensive and inclusive reshaping of economies, societies, and politics in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. The initiative has brought together leaders from various sectors to collaborate on solutions for the economic and social challenges caused by the pandemic.
What Does This Mean For Your Business?
Having annual meetings that bring together thousands of leaders and experts from the public and private sectors, and focusing their minds on key issues and encouraging the kind of communication that wouldn’t normally happen can bring everyone up to speed, generate ideas, opportunities, and solutions. Some of these have delivered real economic, social and technological benefits globally. Ultimately, such solutions have benefitted a wide range of businesses in all sectors, and this year’s Davos has seen a recognition of the contribution that technologies like generative artificial intelligence look set to deliver in the near future.