The 45th Annual Meeting of the World Economic Forum takes place in Davos, Switzerland from 21-24 January 2015. Here are fifteen things to know about this year’s meeting:
- Over 40 heads of state and government are among the 2,500 participants at this year’s Annual Meeting.
- The very first Davos took place in 1971 when just 444 participants met for discussions that continued for a fortnight.
- The Forum met in Davos as the European Management Forum until 1987, when it was renamed the World Economic Forum to reflect its increased global scope.
- At 1,560 metres (5,100 feet) above sea level, Davos is the highest city in Europe. Its dry, Alpine air made it a popular destination for tuberculosis sufferers to recuperate in the nineteenth and early twentieth century.
- In January 2002, the Annual Meeting was held in New York as an act of solidarity following the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
- Davos has a literary heritage. In 1881, Robert Louis Stevenson worked on the final chapters of Treasure Island while staying at the Hotel Belvedere. Thomas Mann’s novel The Magic Mountain was inspired by his experiences in Davos. It is claimed that the writer Arthur Conan Doyle introduced skiing to Switzerland after a visit to the town in the 1890s.
- The Annual Meeting provides a CHF 45 million boost to the local Davos economy, and some CHF 70 million to Switzerland’s economy overall.
- This year’s programme consists of over 280 sessions, of which over 100 sessions will be webcast.
- This year’s participants include senior executives from major technology businesses including Alibaba, Facebook, Google, Microsoft, Wikipedia and Yahoo.
- Other 2015 participants include leading figures from politics, civil society, labour unions, the world’s major religions, media and the arts.
- Over 1,500 of this year’s participants are actively involved as speakers, facilitators and panelists.
- Davos has been the venue for important political meetings. In 1992 South African President F.W. de Klerk met with anti-apartheid leader Nelson Mandela, whilst in 1994 Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon Peres met with Palestinian Liberation Organization Chairman Yasser Arafat at Davos.
- This year’s themes for discussion include addressing geopolitical crises, health pandemics and the future of technology.
- This year there are over a dozen Nobel prize winners present.
- A broad spectrum of the music industry is represented at this year’s meeting, as well as many other cultural leaders. Rapper Will.I.Am is here as a participant, whilst renowned tenor Andrea Bocelli will be giving a performance.
Author: Ian Sanders is a contributor to the Forum Agenda.
Image: A worker prepares the sign at the entrance hall of the congress centre, the venue of the World Economic Forum (WEF), in the Swiss mountain resort of Davos January 19, 2015. REUTERS/Ruben Sprich