Every year, world leaders, economists, businessmen, entrepreneurs and thought leaders come together in a nearly week-long opportunity for the powerful elite to mingle and exchange ideas at the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos, Switzerland.
Klaus Schwab, a former professor at the University of Geneva who founded the WEF in 1971, will celebrate his 80th birthday this year. In almost five decades, Schwab and WEF organisers have metamorphosised the forum, from a meet comprising 450 people into a gargantuan coterie of about 3,000 leaders, including states heads, business leaders and cultural leaders.
For the longest time, the talk in Davos corridors has been interspersed with themes such as climate change, international conflicts, security through plenary sessions and speeches.
While the forum’s undying commitment to “improve the state of the world” has been hard to contest, Davos has become notoriously known for its flamboyance brought in by millionaires, CEOs and Russian oligarchs, with the entertainment industry rustling up to entertain the guests.
For those trying to connect the dots, here is a lowdown on the world’s glitziest summit – its history, participants, funding and agenda to name a few.
The WEF is a non-profitable foundation based in Geneva, Switzerland. Through the forum, founder Schwab wanted to bring together key public and private stakeholders – from the world of business, politics, academia, and – to deliberate on pressing issues of the day, such as inequality and climate change.
In 1971, the dialogue’s primary focus was on how Europeans firms could match up to management conventions followed in the US. Hence, its initial name was "European Management Forum". But the collapse of the Bretton Woods fixed exchange rate mechanism and the Arab-Israeli War in 1973 paved way for the future of the forum. Its popularity surged and the focus of the meet now included social and economic issues, The Telegraph reported. Schwab changed its name in 1987.
The flagship event of the WEF is the annual summit in January, bringing together CEOs from its 1,000 member companies, as well as politicians, representatives from academia, NGOs, religious leaders, and the media. A local Swiss daily reported that it takes an army of 4,500 Swiss police officers and soldiers to keep the high-profile attendees safe.
Davos, an Alpine ski resort town, today has become synonymous with the WEF.
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