Davos Agenda

Davos 2023: What you need to know about geopolitics

Deep dive

In a fragmented world, global leaders must work together to tackle a multitude of crises. Here's what you need to know about geopolitics. Image: Unsplash/Vladislav Klapin

Forum Agenda
Writer, World Economic Forum
  • The impacts from Russia's invasion of Ukraine have rippled out across the world.
  • The theme of the World Economic Forum’s 2023 Annual Meeting was “Cooperation in a Fragmented World”.
  • Nearly 50 heads of state and government came together with business and society leaders to discuss solutions to the most pressing problems.

This winter will mark one year since Russia invaded Ukraine in a wanton act of aggression.

The war, which has killed at least tens of thousands and has forced nearly 8 million refugees to flee across Europe, has exacerbated crises worldwide. This includes causing energy prices to soar, disrupting supply chains, rattling financial markets and intensifying the climate crisis, among other repercussions.


6 ways Russia's invasion of Ukraine has reshaped the energy world

The geopolitical consequences have been manifold — and have significantly impact the most vulnerable. Somalia, for example, is on the brink of famine due to drought and the global food crisis. The country, which relies on Russia and Ukraine for 90% of its wheat supply, now tops the International Rescue Committee's crises watchlist for the first time ever.

As the World Economic Forum’s Global Risks Report 2023 notes, "The first years of this decade have heralded a particularly disruptive period in human history."

"The return to a 'new normal' following the COVID-19 pandemic was quickly disrupted by the outbreak of war in Ukraine, ushering in a fresh series of crises in food and energy – triggering problems that decades of progress had sought to solve," the report adds.

Geopolitics at the Annual Meeting 2023

The ties that bind the world economy together have frayed in recent years. Has globalization reached the end of the line or is a resurgence on the cards?

From the use of sanctions to technology supply shocks, how can business leaders adapt to a world of increased geopolitical fractures?

As democracy comes under increasing pressure, what can leaders do today to strengthen democratic systems?

Let's step back and say what do we need to do differently? What do the new coalitions need to look like? What does the toolkit need to look like?

Samantha Power, Administrator USAID

Nearly one year since the start of the war, Ukraine has surpassed all expectations in its ability to defend itself against Russia. What is the outlook for the conflict and horizons for Ukraine’s post-war reconstruction?

From energy to food to humanitarian relief, where are the concrete opportunities for progress on urgent global challenges despite the strong tides of geopolitical and geo-economic fragmentation?

What are the policy pathways to take and the points of vulnerability to address in Europe in the coming year as it grapples with the multidimensional effects of the war in Ukraine?

We need to send more support to Ukraine, more weapons, more humanitarian aid, more financial aid to make sure the war ends as soon as possible.

Sanna Marin, Prime Minister of Finland

While the conflict in Ukraine has dominated headlines since February, a number of other crises and worrying trends are affecting millions of people around the world and deserve international attention and action. Join International Rescue Committee President David Miliband for a discussion of how widening inequality gaps, debt decay and impending famine will impact economies and societies in 2023 and what actions the international community must take to prevent the worst possible outcomes.

Founder and Executive Chairman of the World Economic Forum, Klaus Schwab, and the Forum's President, Børge Brende, join António Guterres, Secretary-General, United Nations.

We risk what I've called a great fracture, the decoupling of the world's two largest economies.

António Guterres, UN Secretary-General

The war in Ukraine has exacerbated a fragile geopolitical and security landscape. Bold leadership is required not only to restore peace and security in Europe but also for the world. In a time of grave challenges, how can leaders collaborate and cooperate to defend our collective security?

The main focus now is to support Ukraine. To ensure that Ukraine wins the war.

Jens Stoltenberg, NATO Secretary-General

With current geopolitics in flux, how can key powers stem the slide to volatility and strike a new bargain for security dialogue and coordination?

Geopolitics is reflecting a lot of domestic politics.

Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, Federal Minister of Foreign Affairs of Pakistan

Cooperation in a Fragmented World

Nearly 50 heads of state and government from across the globe gathered with business and society leaders at the Forum's Annual Meeting 2023 in Davos, Switzerland, under the theme of “Cooperation in a Fragmented World”. The programme included special addresses from leaders such as Prime Minister Sanna Marin of Finland, President Yoon Suk Yeol of South Korea and UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres.

The summit was held as the need for cooperation rose significantly. As the Global Risks Report 2023 explains, a "polycrisis" dominated by the cost of the living crisis, the climate crisis and political instability is threatening to reverse hard-fought gains in development and growth.

“We see the manifold political, economic and social forces creating increased fragmentation on a global and national level," said Klaus Schwab, the Forum's Founder and Executive Chairman. "To address the root causes of this erosion of trust, we need to reinforce cooperation between the government and business sectors, creating the conditions for a strong and durable recovery."

Top 10 Risks Global Risks Report 2022.
The biggest risks we face. Image: World Economic Forum

More on geopolitics on Agenda

Davos geopolitics videos to watch


Reports, initiatives and announcements on geopolitics during AM23

The Global Risks Report 2023 was published on 11 January, just days before Davos convened world leaders to discuss how to navigate the "polycrisis". You can catch up with the press conference here or read this blog on how organization's should respond.


Experts from across the Forum responded to the report shared insights into how technology, circular economy innovation, resources and energy, climate adaptation and mitigation, cybersecurity and the health sector could shift paradigms to shore up defences and help turn things around for growth and resilience in 2023.

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Related topics:
Davos AgendaGeopoliticsGlobal Cooperation
Geopolitics at the Annual Meeting 2023Cooperation in a Fragmented World More on geopolitics on AgendaDavos geopolitics videos to watchReports, initiatives and announcements on geopolitics during AM23Take our geopolitics poll

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