The World of International Organizations

WEF postpones Davos gathering to summer

Winter in Davos, Switzerland, home to the World Economic Forum's annual meetings (AN/Falk Lademann)

GENEVA (Arête News) — Summer hiking paths instead of winter ski trails await world leaders and power brokers at their next annual gathering in the Swiss resort town of Davos, the World Economic Forum announced on Wednesday.

Officials at WEF said the meeting, usually held in late January, will be postponed until sometime early next summer due to safety concerns about the coronavirus pandemic. During the usual winter gathering time WEF also plans to digitally convene high-level dialogues among key global leaders.

“The decision was not taken easily, since the need for global leaders to come together to design a common recovery path and shape the ‘Great Reset’ in the post-COVID-19 era is so urgent,” Adrian Monck, WEF’s managing director of public engagement, said in a statement. “However, the advice from experts is that we cannot do so safely in January.”

Monck said details about when the annual meeting will be rescheduled in 2021 will be sent out as soon as WEF is “assured that all conditions are fulfilled to guarantee the health and safety of our participants and the hosting community.”

Many of WEF’s 3,000 participants represent the political and financial status quo. But the 2020 Davos gathering was notable as a platform for the colliding worlds of U.S. President Donald Trump and 17-year-old Swedish activist Greta Thunberg, who seemed to talk about two entirely different planets.

Trump fumed about “prophets of doom” that he said repeatedly warn the world is about to end from global warming. An hour later, Thunberg told the same elite gathering the world is “on fire,” and only an immediate end to fossil fuel burning can save it from a “climate and environmental emergency.”

Klaus Schwab, a German engineer and economist who became WEF’s founder and executive chairman, framed the 2020 agenda as an urgent need to put considerations about our planet and society on par with profit motives, pitting stakeholder-driven against shareholder-driven capitalism.

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