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Davos 2022: 'Trust-based and action-oriented cooperation'

Klaus Schwab, Davos 2022 World Economic forum

Opening remarks from Professor Klaus Schwab at the preview of the Annual Meeting, Davos 2022. Image: REUTERS/Denis Balibouse

Klaus Schwab
Founder, Executive Chairman, World Economic Forum
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Davos Agenda

This article is part of: World Economic Forum Annual Meeting

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Remarks delivered by Professor Klaus Schwab at the Annual Meeting 2022.

  • Davos 2022 is the most timely and consequential Annual Meeting since the creation of the Forum over 50 years ago.
  • Davos will bring key global leaders from all parts of society together in person.
  • The atmosphere in which Davos takes place will be welcoming but is also of the utmost seriousness.

Under the theme “History at a Turning Point”, the Annual Meeting of the World Economic Forum in Davos this year will be the most timely and consequential Annual Meeting since the creation of the Forum over 50 years ago.

The political, economic and social circumstances of our meeting are unprecedented. Davos will bring key global leaders from all parts of society together in person, and look at the consequences and repercussions for government policies and business strategies.

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Our first thoughts are with the war in Ukraine. Russia’s aggression on their country will be seen in future history books as the breakdown of the post-World War II and post-Cold War Order. This is the reason why we speak about a turning point in history. In Davos, our solidarity is foremost with the people suffering from the atrocities of this war.

This war is also personal to me. My earliest childhood memory is sitting in a shelter and hearing the bombs coming down. My life was and is devoted to reconciliation and bridge building efforts, and I never would have imagined that the unacceptable sceptre of war in Europe would become reality again.

We will do whatever we can in Davos to support Ukraine, its people and its recovery. And the World Economic Forum hopes that – one day - the space for bridge building emerges once again.

There are additional reasons which make Davos 2022 so timely this year.


It is the first face-to-face reunion after what we all hope is the tail end of the most significant health catastrophe of the last 100 years, the COVID pandemic causing 15 million deaths according to the WHO. Thus, our big question should be: “How do we develop the necessary personal, national and global resilience mechanisms, to be much better equipped in the future, not only for a virus, but for any breakdown in our life-supporting systems?”

A climate summit

Evidently, the protection of nature and climate comes first to mind. We all know that humankind has been left with only a few years to change course. The window of opportunity is rapidly closing. Thus, Davos 2022 must and will also be a Climate Summit. It will bring together the most relevant actors and it will drive action for all the Forum’s initiatives in this field. That includes the First Movers Coalition launched at UN climate summit COP 26; the One Trillion Trees project, and many more. Moreover, fostering energy transformation will be at the centre of many discussions in Davos.

The return of war, epidemics, and the climate crisis: all these disruptive forces have derailed the global recovery. Inflation has not been this high in decades. What is so worrying about this, is the loss of purchasing power, particularly painful for those who had already difficulties before to secure their livelihoods.

Global economy

Our global economy is out of balance. There is too much debt, too much inflation, too much inequality, and not enough growth. Particularly worrisome, is that ever-larger parts of the global population are confronted with existential choices, or even fall back into extreme poverty or hunger. Those issues must be confronted in Davos and the global food crisis in particular needs all our immediate attention.

How can Davos 2022 make a contribution?

So how can Davos make a positive contribution to all those challenges in a world which is deeply stuck in crisis management?

The answer is threefold.

1. Public private cooperation

First. The challenges cannot be addressed by governments, business or civil society alone. The World Economic Forum is the international organization for public-private cooperation with official participation of more than 90 governments in Davos.

Our multiple collaborative initiatives will drive progress by strengthening global and regional cooperation; by preserving nature and fighting against climate change; by developing new economic and social policies; by accelerating responsible ESG industry transformation, and by using the disruptive technologies such as AI, blockchain, and quantum computing, for the benefit of society. To remain ourselves at the forefront, the Forum will announce in Davos a new initiative: the Global Collaboration Village in the metaverse.

2. Connect the dots - systemic complexity

There is another reason for Davos 2022 fulfilling a special function: Challenges have political, economic, ecological, technological and social dimensions and implications. Davos is the place to understand and see the world in its systemic complexity. Therefore, the programme is so rich with over 400 sessions. It is the place to gain new insights and to connect the dots, supporting more enlightened decision-making, collectively and individually.

3. Stakeholder capitalism

And finally. When it comes to business and economic activities, Davos is not a place for narrow self-interest. It is instead a place for the implementation of the notion of stakeholder capitalism, a concept I’m fighting for since 50 years.

A Forum partner is asked to value the contributions not just of shareholders, but of all those other stakeholders who are essential for business to succeed. As I wrote in my book Stakeholder Capitalism, Davos stands for a global economy that works for prosperity, people, and the planet.

We all are keen to see one another again in person. The atmosphere in which Davos 2022 takes place will be welcoming but is also of the utmost seriousness. There is no place for the frivolous fringe that seeks to distract and divert attention ­– and I condemn it wholeheartedly - particularly of those who have nothing to do with the World Economic Forum community and just to Davos to hijack our brand.

To summarize: in a world which is becoming more fragmented and more divided, and where many of the traditional multilateral organizations tend to become dysfunctional or at least mistrustful, a global platform based on informal, trust-based and action-oriented cooperation such as the World Economic Forum and Davos will be ever more needed.

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