DemDaily: What is Davos?

January 18, 2024

Political, corporate and business elites met in Davos, Switzerland this week for the annual 54th Annual World Economic Forum (WEF) to discuss the most pressing issues of our time, including multiple regional conflicts that threaten global security, an unrelenting climate crisis, and the challenges posed by generative AI.

Established in 1971, the mission of the World Economic Forum, often referred to as "Davos," is to improve "the state of the world...by providing a global, impartial and not-for-profit platform for meaningful connection between stakeholders to establish trust, and build initiatives for cooperation and progress."

The prestigious five-day event of approximately 3,000 invited guests draws over 120 governments, major international organizations, the Forum’s 1000 Partner companies, civil society leaders, industry experts, economists, social entrepreneurs and youth leadership, along with the media and a host of celebrity attendees.

The 2024 meeting, themed "Rebuilding Trust," featured over 200 sessions with top political leaders and keynote conversations and addresses from some of the 60 heads of state and 300 government ministers in attendance.

The program was based on four key issue areas: Achieving Security and Cooperation in a Fractured World; Creating Growth and Jobs for a New Era; Artificial Intelligence as a Driving Force for the Economy, and Society and A Long-Term Strategy for Climate, Nature and Energy.

Representing the United States were Secretary of State Antony Blinken, National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan, and Special Presidential Envoy for Climate John Kerry.

An unusually small Congressional delegation of Senator Chris Coons (D-DE), Senator Mike Rounds (R-SD) and five US House members made a brief appearance before returning to the US to votes on the looming government shutdown and funding for Ukraine and Israel.

Coons, who stayed longer, told Politico that he and his colleagues were on a “mission of reassurance,” to assure global leaders that congressional dysfunction and a turbulent presidential election won’t keep the US off the world stage. He expressed confidence the Senate would eventually pass the $106 billion funding package for a Ukraine, Israel and border security, adding its future was less assured in the House.

Concerns about the US presidential hovered over the Forum. JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon, speaking from Davos on Wednesday, praised former President Donald Trump’s record and admonished Democrats to be “more respectful” of Trump’s supporters, or else risk hurting President Joe Biden’s reelection bid. When asked whiether Biden or Trump would be better for his business, Dimon said, “I have to be prepared for both."

Blinken and Sullivan met with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy in Davos, assuring him that they are “working very closely with Congress" to secure additional support for Ukraine.

Speaking Tuesday, Zelenskyy forcefully condemned Russian President Vladimir Putin while urging political and business leaders facing war fatigue in the West to enforce sanctions and help rebuild his country.

In a keynote session with moderator Thomas Friedman of The New York Times Wednesday, Blinken called for greater global cooperation to deal with humanitarian crises from the "gut-wrenching" conflict in Gaza to the Russia-Ukraine war.

Sullivan lauded the coalitions assembled to support Ukraine and retaliate against Yemeni strikes on commercial shipping in the Red Sea.

In a panel discussion on development of low-carbon technologies, Kerry asserted that the US' move towards clean energy will continue regardless of the outcome of this year's presidential election.

First Gentleman Doug Emhoff, in a roundtable discussion with CEOs, spoke on combating religious-based and other forms of hate while also promoting gender equity and women’s rights.

The pressing issues being discussed failed to deter party goers, most of whom flew in on private jets. While the invitation-only event was free for WEF members, WEF membership is approximately $66,000 USD. Individual tickets were $25,000 USD.

"Davos is where very rich people assemble in luxury to discuss very poor people." -- US Political Strategist Brad Bannon

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Sources: WEF, AP, Time, Politico, CNBC, wlns.com, YahooFinance

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