Davos set for world leaders' biggest post-pandemic gathering; Indian presence at summit significant

The meeting will call on leaders from across the globe to address immediate economic, energy and food crises while laying the groundwork for a more sustainable and resilient world

January 16, 2023 12:20 pm | Updated 12:20 pm IST - Davos

A man takes a selfie in front of the logo of the World Economic Forum (WEF) 2023 at Davos Congress Centre in the Alpine resort of Davos, Switzerland, on January 15, 2023.

A man takes a selfie in front of the logo of the World Economic Forum (WEF) 2023 at Davos Congress Centre in the Alpine resort of Davos, Switzerland, on January 15, 2023. | Photo Credit: Reuters

Global leaders will come together for the biggest gathering in this snow-laden Swiss ski resort town on January 16, with thousands of people, including around a hundred participants from India, set to discuss 'cooperation in a fragmented world'.

This year's World Economic Forum (WEF) summit will kickstart with the crystal awards ceremony.

Last year, the annual meeting was hosted in May as it could not take place in the usual month of January due to the COVID pandemic-related restrictions. Before that, the 2021 meeting was held online.

Though the pandemic is yet to be declared totally over, restrictions are far and few, and the war in Ukraine and the economic fallout of geopolitical as well as health crises have made the Davos meeting, often described as the biggest congregation of the global elite, very interesting.

More than 50 heads of governments or States are expected over the next five days for the meeting beginning Monday, while four Union ministers - Mansukh Mandaviya, Ashwini Vaishnaw, Smriti Irani and R.K. Singh - as also Maharashtra Chief Minister Eknath Shinde, along with a number of officials and business leaders would be present from India.

Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath and Karnataka's B.S. Bommai were also earlier listed but they are unlikely to attend the summit. AAP leader Raghav Chaddha is also here, so are Telangana minister K.T. Rama Rao and Tamil Nadu minister Thangam Thennarasu.

Among business leaders, Gautam Adani, Sanjiv Bajaj, Kumar Mangalam Birla, N. Chandrasekaran, Nadir Godrej, Ajit Gulabchand, Sajjan Jindal, Sunil Mittal, Roshni Nadar Malhotra, Nandan Nilekani, Adar Poonawalla, Rishad Premji and Sumant Sinha are likely to be present.

The meeting will call on leaders from across the globe to address immediate economic, energy and food crises while laying the groundwork for a more sustainable and resilient world.

The organisers expect significant participation from Asia, including from China and Japan.

The theme of the 53rd Annual Meeting would be 'Cooperation in a Fragmented World' and it will convene more than 2,700 leaders from 130 countries, including 52 heads of state/government.

Top political leaders taking part include German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, European Parliament President Roberta Metsola, South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol, South Africa President Cyril M. Ramaphosa, Spain Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez, Swiss President Alain Berset and Finland Prime Minister Sanna Marin.

Other top leaders include John F Kerry, Special Presidential Envoy for Climate of the United States of America; Avril Haines, US Director of National Intelligence; Martin J. Walsh, Secretary of Labor of the United States; Katherine Tai, United States Trade Representative; and Christine Lagarde, President, European Central Bank.

Heads of international organisations taking part include UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres, IMF Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva, WTO Director General Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg and WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.

The WEF said the annual meeting comes as multiple crises deepen divisions and fragment the geopolitical landscape and leaders must address people's immediate, critical needs while also laying the groundwork for a more sustainable, resilient world by the end of the decade.

"We see the manifold political, economic and social forces creating increased fragmentation on a global and national level. To address the root causes of this erosion of trust, we need to reinforce cooperation between the government and business sectors, creating the conditions for a strong and durable recovery," WEF Founder and Executive Chairman Klaus Schwab said.

"At the same time there must be the recognition that economic development needs to be made more resilient, more sustainable and nobody should be left behind," he added.

The programme of the 53rd Annual Meeting focuses on solutions and public-private cooperation to tackle the world's most pressing challenges.

"It encourages world leaders to work together on the interconnected issues of energy, climate and nature; investment, trade and infrastructure; frontier technologies and industry resilience; jobs, skills, social mobility and health; and geopolitical cooperation in a multipolar world," said the WEF, which describes itself as an international organisation for public-private cooperation.

Special emphasis is on gender and geographical diversity across all sessions, it added.

This year will bring about the highest-ever business participation at Davos, with over 1,500 leaders registered across 700 organisations, including over 600 of the world's top CEOs with top-level representation from sectors, such as financial services, energy, materials and infrastructure, and information and communication technologies.

As IFAD Goodwill Ambassadors, they focus on issues related to food security, climate change and environmental conservation.

Leaders from civil society taking part in the meeting include Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance CEO Seth F Berkley, International Transport Workers' Federation General-Secretary Stephen Cotton, Association for Indigenous Women and Peoples of Chad's President Hindou Oumarou Ibrahim, Religions for Peace Secretary-General Azza Karam, and Art of Living Foundation Founder Sri Sri Ravi Shankar.

More than 125 experts and heads of the world's leading universities, research institutions, and think tanks will also join the meeting.

Artist Maya Lin, acclaimed soprano Renee Fleming and actors Idris Elba and Sabrina Dhowre Elba will receive the Annual Crystal Award for 2023 on Monday.

These awards celebrate the achievements of leading artists who are bridge-builders and role models for all leaders of society.

Ms. Lin will get the award for "her extraordinary creative talent in combining science, art and architecture and her exemplary leadership in the promotion of nature and environment".

Ms. Fleming will receive the award for "her leadership in championing the power of music and its relation to health, community and culture," according to WEF.

Idris Elba and Sabrina Dhowre Elba will receive the award for their leadership in addressing food security, climate change and environmental conservation, the WEF said.

Actor, filmmaker and humanitarian, Idris Elba, and his wife, the model, actress and humanitarian, Sabrina Dhowre Elba, were appointed UN Goodwill Ambassadors for IFAD in April 2020.

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