Ever since it was founded in 1971, the not-for-profit organization called the World Economic Forum has done much in the spirit of its motto “Committed to Improving the State of the World”, by providing their annual meetings as a platform for engagement between private business interests and national governments for mapping global history agendas. Their yearly forum, held at Davos, Switzerland at January’s end, came to prominence by 2015 when it was given formal status under the Swiss Host-State Act, giving any public-private cooperation initiatives proposed there some political weight. This year’s economic forum however, is suffering from a lack of important participants, all bowing out due to pressing problems with their countries’ respective economies.
CNN tells us that there is a surprising g trend of world leaders from major nations that have decided to no-show at the 2019 World Economic Forum, nowadays better known in short for its venue at the Swiss mountain town of Davos. While attendance figures still run up the usual numbers of upwards to 3,000 guests, mostly company leaders from some of the biggest business names, the primary press focus on several heads of state will be disappointed that many of them have opted out.
Leading the absentee world leaders is US President Donald Trump. While he was one of the “stars” that got plenty of listening cred at Davos back in 2018, this time he has cancelled in favor of focusing on events happening closer to home, namely the still-ongoing federal shutdown. Another no show is UK Prime Minister Theresa May, who still has her country’s impending Brexit proceedings to worry about. And then there is President Emmanuel Macron who is trying to clamp down on some very heated street demonstrations happening in France. At least President Emmerson Mnangagwa of Zimbabwe was able to send a deputy in the person of his finance minister.
With several top world leaders not showing up in the World Economic Forum this year, others who did will be able to get their influence over the gathering of business interests and bankers. Asia is looking to make an impression with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Chinese President Xi Jinping. German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Prime Minister Narenda Modi of India and President Jair Bolsonaro of Brazil are there too. The Davos organizers have presented the following as its current theme: “Globalization 4.0: Shaping a Global Architecture in the Age of the Fourth Industrial Revolution.”
Aside from public-accessible panels, there is also lots of exclusive closed-door private-public networking expected to go on at Davos, tackling current topics such as technological progress, the surge of populism, the present economic slowdown that caused many leaders to back out to handle their respective problems more closely, and the constant subject of climate change.
Images: Modern Diplomacy.eu, Straits Times