Davos Returns To Tackle Climate Change, War In Ukraine
Davos — the hub of an elite annual gathering in the Swiss Alps — is back, more than two years after the coronavirus pandemic kept its business gurus, political leaders, and high-minded activists away.
Photo Insert: World Economic Forum President Borge Brende
There’s no shortage of urgent issues for the World Economic Forum’s annual meeting to tackle, Jamey Keaten and Masha MacPherson reported for the Associated Press (AP).
With their lofty ambition to help improve the state of the world, forum organizers have their work cut out for them: there are soaring food and fuel prices, Russia’s war in Ukraine, climate change, drought and food shortages in Africa, yawning inequality between rich and poor, and autocratic regimes gaining ground in some places — on top of signs that the pandemic is far from over.
The war in Ukraine will be a key theme. President Volodymyr Zelenskyy will speak on opening day Monday by video from Kyiv, while the country’s foreign minister and a sizable delegation of other top Ukrainian officials will be on hand.
They’ll be joined this week by leaders like German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, US climate envoy John Kerry, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen.
“There’s no business as usual,” forum President Borge Brende told AP, saying Ukraine is not the only worry. “It is also climate change. It is also that the global growth is slowing, and we have to avoid that this very weak recovery ends with a new recession because we have very limited ammunition to fight a new recession. A new recession will lead to increased unemployment, increased poverty,” he added.
President Vladimir Putin’s war means Russian business and political leaders haven’t been invited to Davos this year.
There will be no traditional “Russia House” social festivities with caviar and vodka spreads for the elite attendees of its evening fun. Instead, critics — notably including Ukrainian tycoon Victor Pinchuk and the country’s Foreign Ministry — have seized on some symbolism and vowed to voice their disgust, which is shared by many around the world.
“This year, Russia is not present at Davos, but its crimes will not go unnoticed. The ‘Russia War Crimes House’ takes place inside the former Russia House,” organizers of the rechristened venue.
Opening Monday, the venue will feature photos of crimes and cruelties that Russian forces are accused of perpetuating. Some victims will speak out — including Anatoliy Fedoruk, the mayor of Bucha, a town near Kyiv where images of killings of civilians drew outrage worldwide.