This year, Davos is starting under sunshine, but not inside the hearts and minds of the participants. Lots of somber mood all around, with unprecedented questioning, uncertainty, even fear. Less glamour than I have seen for years, more serious discussions.
It is now clear that this is more than a standard crisis that we are dealing with. It shakes the very foundations of the set of beliefs many of us have had up to now.
What started as a banking crisis became an economic crisis and now turns into a geo-political debate.
The silver lining is that the notion of informed collective initiatives is well accepted. First meeting with world leaders for the newly inaugurated US president is not going to be a classical G8, but more like a G20.
But also: well done.
More than ever, we feel how interconnected we all are. We need coordinated global actions, of course, within the total economic and political framework but also within the specifics of the various industries. And here most of the discussions are on how we get investments going again.
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But this time of crisis is also an incredible time of opportunity for profound changes with perhaps more innovative ideas floating around than people think! By looking hard at how we do things and the business models we use, we will see how we can work better together. That is the buzz here in Davos: we are in this crisis together and we need each other to get out of it!
I will be interested to learn if we can cope with this, while at the same time keeping top issues like global warming and corporate governance on the agenda. Or, if the avalanche of the economic downturn wipes out all other issues!
That would be a pity, because the list of participants is so diverse and will bring about opportunities to dialogue with scientists, politicians and business leaders from all over the world. Let’s think about it: if Davos wants to keep on being this open brainstorming forum where you can still think long term. And if what we are trying to shape here is the post-crisis world. Then, we should certainly keep these important subjects in mind and not let them drown in the mid-term turmoil.
I am sure the coming days will be hectic as ever, but perhaps even more rewarding.