Davos 2023

Record participation expected at WEF meeting

WEF president Borge Brende (centre) during a virtual media briefing on Jan 10. PHOTO: EPA-EFE

SINGAPORE - Thousands of business leaders, government officials, diplomats, observers, media and others will gather in the Swiss town of Davos next week in the face of one of the world’s greatest times of uncertainty.

The 53rd annual meeting of the World Economic Forum (WEF) will see a record participation of 52 heads of state – with over half of them from Europe – 300 ministers and more than 600 captains of industry coming together to discuss multiple challenges they face in 2023.

Registration numbers suggest participation will exceed that at the forum’s 50th anniversary in 2020, which nearly 3,000 people attended, said WEF head of digital and marketing George Schmitt on LinkedIn.

“The 53rd annual meeting in Davos will happen against the most complex geopolitical and economic backdrop in decades,” the forum’s president Borge Brende told reporters earlier this week.

The state of the ongoing Ukraine-Russia war will feature in discussions during the annual meeting, which will also cover global challenges facing humanity ranging from economic growth, geopolitical confrontations and issues tied to the tardy progress on limiting global warming, to frontier technologies and the future of work.

Singapore’s Minister for Communications and Information Josephine Teo and National Development Minister Desmond Lee will join panel discussions.

Senior Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam, who is a member of WEF’s board of trustees, will also speak at sessions.

South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol and Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jr lead the list of other top Asian leaders attending the meeting.

Chinese Vice-Premier Liu He is expected to join the forum too, according to people familiar with the matter, the South China Morning Post said.

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and Finland’s Prime Minister Sanna Marin will take the stage, among leaders from Europe.

From the United States, Mr John Kerry, the special presidential envoy for climate, and US Trade Representative Katherine Tai will be among senior officials participating in discussions at the forum.

WEF founder and executive chairman Klaus Schwab told reporters: “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.”

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