the main points:
- The annual event brings together politicians and businessmen.
- Businessmen have to pay, but one prominent businessman says he was left out of this year’s event.
- Former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd is attending.
Held the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum (WEF), it has attracted thousands.
The 2023 Global Task Force meeting in Davos, Switzerland, this week brings together leaders from global politics, business, central banking, the arts, universities and charities.
2,700 delegates will face issues that cross borders and require the movement of people, goods and data – and a fairer distribution of wealth.
Here’s what you need to know:
What is happening in Davos?
The roots of the World Economic Forum go back to 1971 when its founder Klaus Schwab invited executives from European companies to the then small ski resort of Davos, high in the Swiss Alps.
Mr. Schwab’s goal was to create a forum for policymakers and CEOs of companies to address major global issues and learn best practices for leadership and management.
However, much of the action takes place outside. Bilateral meetings between heads of state and heads of companies occupy much of their schedules.
This year’s theme is Collaboration in a Fragmented World.
British-American businessman Bill Browder said he was left out of this year’s event. Source: GT / Tolga Akmen
In this year’s edition, global political and corporate leaders gather against a backdrop of protectionism, This led to strained political alliances and deepened ideological divisions.
They are likely to discuss issues including rising interest rates and the cost of living crisis.
On Wednesday, United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres outlined in a speech what he called the “perfect storm” facing the world today, referring to recession, inequality, supply chain disruptions, rising interest rates and inflation.
Climate change is another pressing issue, which topped the World Economic Forum’s survey of global risks. Energy company executives will mingle with climate activists and environment ministers at the forum to discuss the global transition to green energy.
A “living wage,” which covers basic needs and allows for some extras for large purchases or emergencies, is up for debate.
Inclusion of workers with disabilities and from diverse cultural backgrounds is also an important goal with companies already competing for scarce talent.
But one aspect of the annual event is particularly controversial: the entry fee.
Davos, Switzerland, hosts the World Economic Forum. Source: GT / Jeff J Mitchell
Did it really cost you $100,000 to attend?
While some politicians and NGO leaders are invited to attend Davos for free, businessmen are not.
The author of the Red Bulletin and CEO of Hermitage Capital, told SBS News that he pays US$70,000 (about $105,000) each year to attend the event.
He would attend private meetings and dinners with CEOs of the world’s largest companies, presidents and top politicians.
Mr. Browder was a major investor in Russia in the aftermath of the breakup of the Soviet Union. But he said earlier that some people now consider him “foreign enemy number one” of Russian President Vladimir Putin after exposing state corruption and confronting the country’s oligarchy.
Once in Davos as a businessman, he then became an “anti-Putin activist” for more than 15 years. But now, Mr. Browder says he has “run out” of the cost of the event, saying the forum is now asking him to pay the equivalent of US$250,000 (about US$360,000) to attend.
He said that although he had no “business agenda”, he was “downloaded” with the $105,000 fee because “there is no better platform” for his advocacy.
“I can confront the Russian government about the murder of Sergei Magnitsky and also address industry leaders about turning away from Russia,” he said.
Police on standby outside the conference center during this year’s World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. credit: Jan Ehrnzeller/European Patent Office
Mr. Magnitsky was Mr. Browder’s lawyer. He was denied medical treatment in prison in Russia and beaten to death, which led to the Magnitsky Act, which punishes Russians for human rights abuses.
A copy of the Magnitsky Act In 2022, the Russians target “those responsible for the corruption exposed by Sergei Magnitsky and those complicit in his mistreatment and subsequent death”.
“Last May, the World Economic Forum told me that if I wanted to go back I would have to pay [US]”$250,000 (more than three times the previous fee),” Mr. Browder said.
Browder campaigns to raise $500 million in frozen Russian assets for use in the defense of Ukraine.
SBS News has contacted the World Economic Forum for comment.
Former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd is in Davos. Source: aap / Lucas Koch
While Mr Browder sits this year, some 3,000 others are in attendance, including former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd.
Mr. Rudd goes on to serve as a representative of the Asia Society, a non-governmental organization that specializes in “international relations,” where he serves as President and CEO.
A spokesperson for Mr Rudd said the main theme of this year’s event was “the impact of China’s exit from… On the economy and politics” and that the former prime minister was asked to speak on this subject.
The spokesperson said he did not receive any taxpayer funding to attend.
Notable guests included Ukrainian brothers Vitaliy and Vladimir Klitschko, both former world champions and professional boxers. Vitaly is now the mayor of Kyiv and Vladimir is a businessman.
They will campaign to defend Ukraine against Russia, as the one-year anniversary of the Russian invasion approaches.
Russian oligarchs and politicians were banned from attending this year’s event.
Brothers Vitali Klitschko (left) and Vladimir Klitschko, during the 53rd Annual Meeting of the World Economic Forum, in Davos, Switzerland, on Monday. credit: Jian Ehrnzeller / Associated Press
The heads of Australia’s largest mining companies are also in Davos, with BHP CEO Mike Henry, Andrew Forrest of Fortescue Metals and Jacob Stosholm of Rio Tinto present at the forum.
The heads of major mining companies from around the world are expected to discuss the global green energy transition.
Prime Minister Anthony Albanese is not there, nor is the richest man in the world, Elon Musk.
“The reason I turned down Davos’ invitation wasn’t because I thought they were in on some diabolical scheme, but because it sounded boring,” Musk said.
The World Economic Forum runs from January 16-20.
—With Reuters and AAP.