More than 60 heads of state and government and hundreds of business leaders are coming to Switzerland to discuss the biggest global challenges during the World Economic Forum’s annual gathering next week, ranging from Israeli President Isaac Herzog to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.
The likes of U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Chinese Premier Li Qiang, EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, French President Emmanuel Macron, U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and many others will descend on the Alpine ski resort town of Davos on Jan. 15-19, organizers said Tuesday.
Attendees have their work cut out for them with two major wars — the Israel-Hamas conflict and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine — plus problems like climate change, major disruptions to trade in the Red Sea, a weak global economy and misinformation powered by rapidly advancing artificial intelligence in a major election year.
Trust has eroded on peace and security, with global cooperation down since 2016 and plummeting since 2020, forum President Borge Brende said at a briefing.
“In Davos, we will make sure that we bring together the right people to see how can we also end this very challenging world, look at opportunities to cooperate,” he said.
Brende noted that there are fears about escalation of the conflict in Gaza and that key stakeholders — including the prime ministers of Qatar, Lebanon and Jordan as well as Herzog — were coming to Davos to “look how to avoid a further deterioration and also what is next, because we also have to inject some silver linings.”
Zelenskyy will give an address next week during the event, while more than 70 national security advisers from around the world will gather in Davos on Sunday to discuss ways forward on Zelenskyy’s peace plan, Brende said. It’s the fourth such meeting, but Russian officials have never participated.
Major figures — including U.S. national security adviser Jake Sullivan, new Argentina President Javier Milei, OpenAI CEO Sam Altman, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella — will discuss big ideas in hundreds of public sessions and speeches or in other talks surrounding the event.
There’s also more secretive backroom deal-making in the upscale hotels along Davos’ Promenade, near the conference center that hosts the gathering.
How much all these discussions will result in big announcements is uncertain. The World Economic Forum’s glitzy event has drawn criticism for being a place where high-profile figures talk about big ideas but make little headway on finding solutions to the world’s biggest challenges.
It’s also been criticized for hosting wealthy executives who sometimes fly in on emissions-spewing corporate jets.