Davos 2024: ‘Speed dating’ for insights in an uncertain world

Thousands of decision-makers, shapers and influencers will head to the Swiss alpine town of Davos from January 15 to January 19 to debate, discuss and anguish over the state of the world.

Shefali Rekhi

Shefali Rekhi

Asia News Network

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File photo of the village of Davos, which is located on a beauftiful plateau at 1'560m a.s.l. between amazing peaks of the swiss alps. PHOTO: UNSPLASH

January 15, 2024

SINGAPORE – Thousands of decision-makers, shapers and influencers will head to the Swiss alpine town of Davos from Jan 15 to Jan 19 to debate, discuss and anguish over the state of the world.

Chinese Premier Li Qiang, United States Secretary of State Antony Blinken, White House National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan and French President Emmanuel Macron have confirmed their participation at the 2024 World Economic Forum (WEF).

They will be among 2,800 leaders from over 120 countries – including 60 heads of state and government – joining this year’s discussions.
The leaders will be flying down for the annual gathering, then rushing from one room to another and from one venue to another, in the hope of catching precious insights, and networking to navigate their way in an already complex world.

From Singapore, President Tharman Shanmugaratnam, Minister for Communications and Information Josephine Teo, and Manpower Minister and Second Minister for Trade and Industry, Dr Tan See Leng, will join the meeting.

Thailand’s Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin will make his Davos debut at a discussion about Asean at the prestigious forum – a regular meeting spot for foreign investors, chiefs of banks and multinationals, and heads of international agencies, among others.

Vietnamese Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh will be introduced by WEF founder and chairman Klaus Schwab at a key session moderated by New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman.

Mr Chinh will also join South Korean Prime Minister Han Duck-soo, Papua New Guinea’s Prime Minister James Marape and others at a session titled Leading In The Pacific, for a discussion on cooperating for growth in the Pacific region amid superpower rivalry, while ensuring that climate change is also a priority.

Several leaders from Europe, the Middle East, Africa and elsewhere will take the stage too, along with United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres.

The state of affairs between the United States and China remains a key segment of discussions, but both US President Joe Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping will not be attending the 2024 discussions.

Other prominent absentees include Japan’s Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi and South Korea’s President Yoon Suk-yeol.

These are some of the key discussions that will take place:

  • America’s role in the world
  • State of play in China
  • Ukraine-Russia war
  • Tensions in the Middle East
  • The world economy at a time of high interest rates and inflation
  • The promise and peril of artificial intelligence
  • Our health, longevity issues and dealing with Disease X (the mysterious name for an illness caused by a currently unknown, yet serious microbial threat)
  • The world’s tardy progress on tackling climate change, and accelerating renewable energy use
  • A troubled future for the youth

The forum is allowing a maximum of 30 to 45 minutes each for most of the discussions, 200 of which will be live-streamed.

Some will have five to six speakers on a panel.

The prospect of slipping on ice while making one’s way to the venues adds to the daunting task of discussing of difficult issues. There is often a line to enter most of the discussion rooms. Food is not exactly sumptuous.

Still, thousands of people will be making their way to the conference, in the hope that the insights, connections and discourse will enable suitable action, in a world certain to be filled with uncertainty.

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