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5 things you might not know about Switzerland’s presence at Davos 2022

President of the Swiss Confederation Ignazio Cassis speaks at Davos 2022.

For 50 years, Davos in Switzerland has been the host country for the World Economic Forum’s Annual Meeting. Image: World Economic Forum

Micol Lucchi
Lead, Swiss Public Affairs, World Economic Forum
Selina Hänni
Swiss Public Affairs Specialist, World Economic Forum
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Davos Agenda

This article is part of: World Economic Forum Annual Meeting

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  • Swiss President Ignazio Cassis put the conflict in Ukraine and the importance of multilateralism for peace at the heart of his addresses to Davos.
  • House of Switzerland provided a platform for exchanges between Swiss and international actors, including Federal Councillor Viola Amherd and NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg.
  • 10 Davos locals were officially invited to the Annual Meeting to receive the coveted white badge, while there were several pop-up collaborations with local partners.

For 50 years, Switzerland has been the host country for the World Economic Forum’s Annual Meeting, with Davos becoming a synonym for world leaders gathering to tackle the most pressing global issues. The Swiss delegation included representatives from the government at federal, cantonal and local levels, including the Swiss president, five federal councillors as well as four state secretaries. Their participation varied from the opening to bilateral meetings, active panel roles and beyond. Swiss businesses, civil society and academic leaders were also well represented.

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1) Open Forum Davos

After this two-year hiatus, the Open Forum – an accessible event for participants to share thoughts, experiences and stories on pressing and controversial issues – also returned to Davos at this crucial historical turning point. The president of the Swiss Confederation, Ignazio Cassis, put the conflict in Ukraine and the importance of multilateralism for peace at the heart of his various addresses. “Switzerland has strongly opposed the war of aggression in Ukraine. There can be no neutral attitude to the brutal attack of our shared values of freedom and democracy. We stand alongside other countries in condemning the war,” he said during the Opening Session of the Annual Meeting 2022. The war in Ukraine was also at the centre of President Cassis’s contribution to the Open Forum session “Working Together for Peace”, open to the public, and where he took the time to meet with young people in the room.

For the last few years, the Open Forum has made a point of including a broad range of Swiss voices. Among them this year were Benedikt Schmid (a 21-year-old from “the Young Centre” political party), Pascal Kaufmann (founder and group CEO of Mindfire), Christophe Catoir (president of the Adecco Group), Philipp Wilhelm (mayor of Davos), Klaus Moosmayer (chief ethics, risk and compliance officer at Novartis), and Isabella Eckerle (associate professor at the Department of Medicine of the University of Geneva).

2) House of Switzerland – a platform for Swiss priorities

For the third time at an Annual Meeting, the House of Switzerland offered Switzerland a platform for exchanges between Swiss and international actors. The federal councillors held their bilateral meetings both in the Congress Centre and at the House of Switzerland. The Swiss Armed Forces Culinary Team catered for the federal councillors and their conversation partners from all around the world, including NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg and Federal Councillor and Head of the Federal Department of Defence, Civil Protection and Sport Viola Amherd. Furthermore, Federal Councillors Simonetta Sommaruga and Guy Parmelin met with Robert Habeck, the German federal minister for economic affairs and climate protection, to discuss the impact of the war in Ukraine on energy supplies.

Monday was “Geneva Day” at the House of Switzerland, a day to give visibility to actors and topics discussed in “International Geneva”. Business leaders and officials from Geneva (such as State Councillor Natalie Fontanet) engaged with questions on how new technologies and digital innovation can transform our lives and how the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted the future of work. Swiss political, business and academic leaders also came together for a dinner hosted by the Forum and in collaboration with Presence Switzerland and the Swiss Armed Forces Culinary Team.

3) The City of Davos and Cantons around Switzerland

Initially, the Annual Meeting 2021 was postponed due to COVID-19 and set to take place in Bürgenstock in the cantons of Nidwalden and Lucerne. Unfortunately, the Forum had to cancel the 2021 event in its entirety. As a show of appreciation for all the work the two cantons and the city of Lucerne had already invested, a delegation from the Cantons of Lucerne and Nidwalden were invited to the Annual Meeting 2022. As per the tradition of the cantons of Grisons and Zurich, an event with both the public and private sector was co-hosted together with the delegation. Professor Joseph E. Stiglitz discussed the impact of global crises on supply chains and logistics.

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Mayor of Davos Philipp Wilhelm participated in a discussion about gender equality at the Open Forum. Furthermore, he facilitated a “Davos moment”, with the Mayor of Kyiv Vitali Klitschko. Mayor Klitschko visited the municipality and met with Ukrainian women and children who have found refuge in Davos.

4) A Day at the Annual Meeting 2022

For the third time, 10 people from Davos were officially invited to the Annual Meeting of the Forum to receive the coveted white badge. After a tour of the House of Switzerland and a sneak peek into the Media Village, the 10 locals could explore and participate in conversations at the Congress Centre. A particularly touching moment was when one of the Davos residents, who is originally from the Netherlands, was able to fulfil her dream of meeting with Her Majesty Queen Máxima of the Netherlands for a face-to-face exchange.

5) Pop-up collaborations with local actors from Davos

GreenUp, a non-governmental organization with a Hub in Davos, put together a “pop-up” plant shop where greenery and furniture used during the Annual Meeting could be collected by the local community after the Meeting.

In the fight against food waste, the 4Reasons, a pop-up restaurant, redistributed meals from various hotel kitchens. The revenue goes to social child and youth projects in Davos. These initiatives contribute to the Forum’s commitment to sustainability.

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