Davos World Economic Forum: soon to be discontinued?

Representatives from the worlds of politics and business have been convening since Monday in Davos, Switzerland, for the 54th World Economic Forum. Despite another high-ranking line-up, commentators question, not for the first time, what purpose the forum fulfils today.

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Cumhuriyet (TR) /

A pure waste of time

The forum is just a show of hypocrisy, Cumhuriyet fumes:

“The world's richest people and politicians are meeting again in the Swiss ski resort of Davos. For one week, the global elite will be 'saving the world' and lobbying at the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum. ... The data Oxfampublished the day before [on income inequality] is staggering. ... In Davos, the richest pretend to be talking about the big problems, but they're wasting their time! Meanwhile, with each passing day the world is becoming more of a hell for those who live from their labour.”

Efimerida ton Syntakton (GR) /

Not a word about inequality

Efimerida ton Syntakton points to a glaring hole in the Forum's agenda:

“A peculiarity of this year's Davos meeting is that the increasingly pressing issue of economic inequality is completely absent from the agenda. This year's discussions at the World Economic Forum focus on a plethora of topics such as artificial intelligence, creating growth and jobs, energy, the environment, climate change, geopolitical tensions, security and cooperation. ... But not inequality, which, oddly, is missing from the list of the world's biggest short- and long-term risks published by the Forum last week.”

Le Monde (FR) /

Invest in a healthy planet

Nathalie Delapalme of the Africa-Europe Foundation and Vanina Laurent-Ledru of Foundation S - The Sanofi Collective explain in Le Monde:

“Financing mechanisms urgently need to be made more flexible so that they can be used more directly and better adapted to the needs of local communities. This is the only solution if we want to boost the adaptation efforts of developing countries and anchor the populations in their territories. ... Businesses are beginning to realise that their own growth is closely linked to the health of our planet and its inhabitants. This consensus must lead to concerted and joint action at the global, national and sub-national levels.”

Financial Times (GB) /

Rant among the like-minded

The forum has become an echo chamber, the Financial Times comments:

“There is a risk that some delegates end up leaving the event with their beliefs reinforced. The forum can at times feel like a rant among like-minded individuals who are struggling to come to terms with a changing reality. Davos's strength has never really been in its ability to proffer solutions to the world's problems anyway. ... Indeed, the forum's lofty ambitions often distract from the true purpose of the event: its unmatched power as a giant networking opportunity. ... Ongoing attendance is guaranteed in part by the simple fear of missing out.”

Süddeutsche Zeitung (DE) /

A late victory for anti-globalism

The turning point in free trade is not passing Davos by, observes the Süddeutsche Zeitung:

“For many years the meeting in the Swiss mountains was the hottest party for the globalised elite, for managers, lobbyists, politicians and experts: Free trade! Networking! Deals! ... Those times are long gone. ... Now it is the protectionists who cavort there, while the World Trade Organisation (WTO), founded 30 years ago to boost free trade, must fear for its survival. Nowadays it plays only a minor role in Davos. Despite all the geopolitical tensions, this is a late and quiet victory for the anti-globalisation movement.”

Le Courrier (CH) /

Exemplary ability to overcome differences

Davos could serve as a good example in the fight against the growing gap between rich and poor, Le Courrier writes in praise:

“Clearly, the Davos summits cannot offer solutions to the tragic consequences of the crisis of globalised capitalism. Instead, as Oxfam puts it, the solutions should come from 'an international movement that takes on the greed and ideology of the billionaire class and leads us to a world based on economic, social and environmental justice. ... But to take a step in this direction, progressive forces could draw inspiration from a quality for which the ruling class gathered in Davos deserves credit: the ability to overcome their differences in order to unite and defend their common interests.”