The World Economic Forum announced Monday that its annual meeting in Davos, Switzerland, scheduled for January 17-21, 2022, has been postponed indefinitely amid concerns about the coronavirus Omicron variant.
The yearly gathering of high-profile business and political leaders, which is held annually at the Swiss resort mecca, was canceled in 2021 due to COVID-19 concerns. Politico reports that the 2022 event will be replaced by a series of online discussions.
“Current pandemic conditions make it extremely difficult to deliver a global in-person meeting. Preparations have been guided by expert advice and have benefited from the close collaboration of the Swiss government at all levels,” Adrian Monck, the World Economic Forum’s managing director of public engagement, said in a statement Monday, via ABC News. “Despite the meeting’s stringent health protocols, the transmissibility of Omicron and its impact on travel and mobility have made deferral necessary.”
“Public-private cooperation has moved forward throughout the pandemic and that will continue apace. We look forward to bringing global leaders together in person soon,” World Economic Forum founder and Executive Chairman Klaus Schwab said in a statement of his own, adding that the summit’s postponement “will not prevent progress through continued digital convening of leaders from business, government and civil society.”
Politico notes that the meeting’s organizers are attempting to move the event to the summer of next year, but efforts to relocate the 2021 Special Annual Meeting to Singapore in May failed. The meeting was moved to August but then canceled completely amid a spike in COVID-19 cases on the island nation.
The WEF had successfully paused implementation of a Swiss regulation requiring foreign travelers to quarantine for 10 days until after the conference had concluded, but constantly-changing local regulations caused event mainstays to cancel their events and bookings of spaces.
Organizers remain optimistic about the progress of the WEF’s work moving forward. “The annual meeting is just one touch point alongside the day-to-day work of our nearly 20 platforms. Our partners sign on as members to work year-round,” WEF spokeswoman Amanda Russo told Politico.
The World Economic Forum became the target of ire from conservatives after a June 2020 meeting unveiled an initiative called the “Great Reset” that aimed to use the pretext of the COVID-19 pandemic to reshape the global economy at a fundamental level.
“The Covid-19 crisis, and the political, economic and social disruptions it has caused, is fundamentally changing the traditional context for decision-making,” the Great Reset web page states. “The inconsistencies, inadequacies and contradictions of multiple systems –from health and financial to energy and education – are more exposed than ever amidst a global context of concern for lives, livelihoods and the planet.”
“As we enter a unique window of opportunity to shape the recovery, this initiative will offer insights to help inform all those determining the future state of global relations, the direction of national economies, the priorities of societies, the nature of business models and the management of a global commons. Drawing from the vision and vast expertise of the leaders engaged across the Forum’s communities, the Great Reset initiative has a set of dimensions to build a new social contract that honours the dignity of every human being.”