The World Economic Forum (WEF) annual meeting starts today, January 21 in Davos, Switzerland. WEF will be conducted until the 24th with the theme, “Stakeholders for a Cohesive and Sustainable World”

We always hear about WEF in mainstream media but a lot of us aren’t so sure what WEF is exactly. It seems like a lot of prominent figures come all the time, so it must be something important. Or is it?

With that, let’s answer the top 5 questions asked by people regarding the annual event.

1. What is the World Economic Forum?

Established in 1971, the WEF is an international organization headquartered in Geneva in Switzerland which serves as a platform for public-private cooperation.

According to the WEF,  political, business, cultural and other leaders of society are brought together in the Forum and engaged to shape global, regional and industry agendas.

2. Who participates in the World Economic Forum?

This year, notable figures such as Germany’s Angela Merkel, Sweden’s Greta Thunberg, the United States’ Donald Trump, and the European Central Bank’s Christine Lagarde are some of the speakers that you can listen to in the Forum.

More than 1,680 leaders from the private sector will also be going to the World Economic Forum in Davos. Over 120 young leaders will also be participating.

3. What are the things they talk about in the World Economic Forum?

WEF will be centred around sustainability. They divided this year’s topics into seven core themes:

  1. Healthy Futures
  2. How to Save the Planet
  3. Better Business
  4. Beyond Geopolitics
  5. Tech for Good
  6. Society and Future of Work
  7. Fairer Economies
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WEF streams public events live and you can keep up with what is happening in Davos right now here.

4. Does the World Economic Forum actually deliver?

The World Economic Forum is not the solution in itself, the WEF is what however it connects individuals who have the willingness or at the very least the capacity to change the world. Together, these people create an agenda for the future.

Does the WEF deliver then? In the context of what it was designed for, yes. To expect the organization to directly meddle with the world’s affairs is asking too much since unlike organizations like the United Nations and the world governments, the Forum has no inherent power that it can exercise to do so.

5. How can I participate in the World Economic Forum?

In order to attend Davos, you have to be affiliated with WEF or be invited in. When you are invited, the event is free. However, as a member of WEF, it will cost around £480,000.

With this, it isn’t surprising that some views WEF as elitist, with only the privileged few being able to directly contribute to the forum. Even within the members, there are hierarchies which limit what kind of facilities and events you can access within the Forum.

Nevertheless, it is hard to discount the impact of the Forum to our world. For instance, the Forum restored was key to the restoration of  the relationships of Turkey and Greece in 1988 when they were on the brink of war. Back in 2000, the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization (GAVI)  also used WEF as a platform to launch its immunization programs.

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