Notes from Davos: Past, present, future

Author - Ajay Khanna

Published By:The Economic Times
Posted on:Mar 29, 2022

Notes from Davos: Past, present, future

This time of the year there won’t be any snow at Davos, neither the biting cold. A summer meeting means a lighter travel bag for sure.More importantly it will take some getting used to. For a record 50 winters — barring the year the WEF was moved to New York in 2002 as a gesture of support to the US which had suffered the consequences of an audacious terror strike in 2001 — the ski resort at Davos has played host to this global gathering where the world’s most influential people mingle and ideate.

As a Davos vet, I too will have to make the adjustments to a different season, yet pleasant weather. #NotComplaining

Hamara Bajaj However, missing in action this year will be Rahul Bajaj — the other constant presence at Davos. A friend and mentor and champion of the India cause, Bajaj will be sorely missed. Not just for his warm company, but for his honest and unabashed views. He possessed the rare quality at the global high table: Tell it like it is. R.I.P my friend. More on him in my next piece.

The Davos Story WEF started the annual Davos rendezvous in 1971. It was christened as the European Management Forum and the meetings lasted for a fortnight! (Now it lasts for a mere four days.)

About 450 participants from 31 countries would take part then. In fact, the idea of the Spirit of DAVOS--a commitment to openness and cooperation—was introduced in that era. It is now the driving ideology of the summit.

The theme for this year’s annual meeting is “History at a turning point: Government Policies and Business Strategies.”

Rightly so. The covid-19 pandemic and the ongoing geo-political confrontations among the world’s superpowers has created unprecedented circumstances. While it is safe to say status quo has ended, not many have a clue as to how the contours of the new world order will stack-up. I quote “Annual Meeting 2022 convenes at the most consequential Geopolitical and Geo Economic moment of the past three decades and against the backdrop of once-in-a-century Pandemic. The war in Ukraine and the resulting tragedy calls of Global moral action……”

The Schedule As per WEF, This Annual Meeting is more relevant than ever, as it will gather a wide range of global leaders to address a broad array of challenges including energy sources, food shortages, security and diplomacy. It will kick-start a robust dialogue towards addressing the current global challenges, ahead of international gatherings such as the Quadrilateral Coalition Summit in May and NATO Summit in June.

The WEF this year is scheduled to host more than 2,000 guests who will participate in over 300 sessions—on climate action, future of energy, cyber security, cyber resilience, net zero, artificial intelligence, business and civil society--to forge 27 initiatives.

This year’s annual meeting program rests on six key pillars:

  • Restoring global order
  • Sewing the economic recovery to shape a new era of growth
  • Building healthy and equitable societies
  • Safeguarding the climate, food and nature
  • Driving industry transformation
  • Harnessing the power of the fourth industrial revolution

These are going to 150 sessions called Stakeholder Dialogue, 40 panel discussions, 19 issue briefings, 14 workshops, 13 Hub sessions, 8 Dinner sessions, 8 Experiences, 8 Open forums, 7 strategy sessions, 8 Leader Sessions, 5 Receptions, 4 one to one sessions and so on and on. This is just the tip of the iceberg so to say. As this only covers WEF official program

Then there are a series of company, countries, states, and international organizations, associations who organize their own events, workshops, group discussions, parties, parties & more parties! Though this year many regular parties like the one by TATA ‘s is not happening. In addition, there are several one to one business meetings all over congress Centre & in Davos hotels, cafes & so on

Networking WEF is a platform for networking and the annual meeting creates the time and space for such interactions; something that we have missed sorely since the pandemic struck.

I am glad it’s finally happening though will miss the snow one is so use to in January! The multilayer clothing, the snow shoe grips, walking carefully on black snow! All of that will be missed in a rainy May weather of Davos. The interim planning for Singapore, Lucerne and finally, thank God, we are back in DAVOS!

I am, therefore, looking forward to making new friends, reconnecting with old and returning intellectually renewed and armed with ideas. Stay tuned for more inside track on Davos 22!