The World Economic Forum might soon be receiving an early morning tweetstorm from Donald Trump.
Often the theme of the annual gathering of CEOs, top academics, and world leaders–many of whom have traveled by private jet and then helicopter to Davos–which takes place this week, is overtaken by world events. The idea is that the peaks of the mountains that surround this remote Swiss ski town can keep such noise out, allowing leaders to come and discuss long-term solutions to the world’s problems. But it never seems to work that way.
Last year, for instance, participants of the annual confab were officially gathered to explore how technological change–namely automation–will alter the global economy, eliminate jobs, and increase inequality. But financial markets, which were going through a mini-crisis in late 2015 and early 2016, as well as a massive oil price drop, dominated much of the conversation.
This year, though, WEF organizers – perhaps because for the first time in years the conference overlaps the U.S. inauguration – seemingly decided to take on world events more directly. The official theme of the forum, which draws world leaders and top Fortune 500 executives, is “responsive and responsible leadership.” From a crowd and a conference that seems to lean heavily toward supporting globalism and free trade, one could see this year’s theme as taking direct aim at not only Donald Trump, but also Nigel Farage and other British leaders who backed Brexit. One of first panels of the conference is how to tackle world problems in an era of fake news. Davos has long attracted criticism for being a gathering of an out-of-touch elite. But this year some commentators say the conference could actually be more relevant than usual, because the liberalists and globalizers who attend have to face up to the reality that they’re losing the battle.
WEF organizers say the picked the theme well before Trump won the U.S. election, but after British voters backed Brexit.