When all roads lead to Davos, in charts

More than 2,500 delegates are expected to converge at Europe’s highest town next week for the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum at Davos. (Reuters)
More than 2,500 delegates are expected to converge at Europe’s highest town next week for the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum at Davos. (Reuters)


Starting 15 January, corporate and political leaders will head to this tiny Swiss town for one of the world’s most-watched annual events

Every year, the who's who of the corporate and political world from more than 100 countries descend on the snow-clad ski resort town of Davos in Switzerland to strike business deals, frame agendas, get investments, and talk about geopolitical challenges.

This year’s meeting of the World Economic Forum (WEF) starts on Monday and will run until Friday, with over 2,500 delegates in attendance. A slowing economy, climate change, and the trade impact of the wars in West Asia and Ukraine are expected to feature on the agenda.

An international nonprofit founded in 1971, the WEF holds events across the world throughout the year, but none gets the eyeballs that the one at Davos does. 

During the week, Europe’s highest town, with just over 10,000 residents, gets flooded with delegates who meet and greet, and talk and party in the hope of changing the world. To its credit, Davos has led to some breakthrough moments in its rich history. Mint explores the nuts and bolts of Davos.

A costly affair

To get to be a part of all this, a member company wanting to attend the world’s most-famous summit needs to splurge thousands of dollars for the week-long trip, which some have come to term as a “vacation" for the ultrarich. 

Past research has found that participation in Davos does little to create share market value for these companies. The benefits are mostly reserved for executives in the form of networking and career progression.

Group of elite

Out of WEF’s hundreds of partner companies, only one comes from a low-income country (Yemen’s HSA Group). (These are the companies that fund the foundation through various membership tiers.)

During 2008–2019, more than 75% of the attendees at the forum came from high-income nations. Of the 1,009 companies listed as partners on the WEF website, 74% were based in rich countries and 17% in upper-middle-income ones, a Mint analysis showed.

A talk shop or an agent of change?

Over the years, ‘Davos Man’ has become a sobriquet for the typical white male corporate leader. The forum has often been judged for its inability to provide an equal platform to women, as well as for the several delegates using private jets to attend the summit. That’s an ironic contradiction, since gender equality and climate change form major parts of WEF's agenda now.

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