Lawmakers, business leaders, and academics participating in the World Economic Forum will descend upon the small ski town of Davos, Switzerland, this week to discuss a variety of policy proposals that entail greater coordination between government and corporate actors.
The organization, which German economist Klaus Schwab has chaired for the past five decades, is a leading proponent of stakeholder capitalism, an approach to investing that says executives must consider the needs of communities and other parties in addition to shareholders. The group’s annual conference has drawn the attention of conservatives who contend that many of the policies floated each year infringe upon individual liberties.
The World Economic Forum is convening during January for the first time since the lockdown-induced recession. This year’s conference theme is “Cooperation in a Fragmented World,” which involves “how we can tackle the numerous and interlinked challenges the world is facing and find solutions through public-private cooperation,” according to a press release.
The conference will feature discussions about economic challenges such as record inflation, tensions arising from the Russian invasion of Ukraine, and renewable energy as a solution to climate change. The World Economic Forum released dozens of publications written by prominent executives on global challenges and how corporate involvement can solve them. One such article, co-authored by Anheuser-Busch Chief Sustainability Officer Ezgi Barcenas, prompts business leaders to consider partnerships with “social enterprises.” Another article, written by Deloitte CEO Emeritus Punit Renjen, claims that “climate inaction” will cost the global economy $178 trillion by 2070 and contends that “climate action” could deliver $43 trillion in value.
“To make meaningful headway, the private sector must help to develop and implement adaptation strategies,” he wrote. “We have the know-how, influence, and scale to do it. And I think the best place for us to start is to engage the broader ecosystem to create solutions that facilitate the transition to a low carbon economy.”
Beyond the more than 1,400 business leaders scheduled to attend the conference, executives expected to speak or participate in panel events include Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella, BlackRock CEO Larry Fink, and Moderna CEO Stéphane Bancel. Hundreds of world leaders, including German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, European Central Bank President Christine Lagarde, Ukrainian First Lady Olena Zelenska, and Canadian Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland, will also attend the conference.
Several officials from the Biden administration, including Special Presidential Envoy for Climate John Kerry and Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines, will represent the United States. Prominent Republicans, such as Georgia Governor Brian Kemp, Representative Maria Elvira Salazar of Florida, and Representative Darrell Issa of California, will likewise make the pilgrimage to Davos; the officials have released statements arguing that they will attempt to bring conservative principles to the controversial event.
Schwab has garnered worldwide notoriety for suggesting that the lockdown-induced recession presents an opportunity for elites to craft a “Great Reset” of the planet’s economic and social systems. The three components of the plan are governments guaranteeing “fairer outcomes” in the marketplace, channeling investments toward “equality and sustainability” efforts, and using medical technology to address “health and social challenges.”