More than 40 heads of states and governments and over 1,400 business leaders from 96 countries will attend the World Economic Forum in Davos with the ultimate goal of shaping a post-crisis world. But will they succeed?
Davos has become a meeting place for the global elite
Staging an event that has become known at least as much for its elaborate parties as for its deep debates in the middle of the worst economic crisis in recent memory is no small feat. But the World Economic Forum has adapted.
According to Swiss media, companies have seriously scaled down their party portfolios. Instead of caviar and lobster, it's now ham and cheese. At exclusive events, guests now have to toast with ordinary champagne instead of the usual Dom Perignon. And at less fancy gatherings, the champagne is scrapped altogether in favor of a good old glass of white wine.
Instead of glamour and glitter, substance is supposed to be king at the World Economic Forum 2009. To that end, global business and government leaders will be given the task of sketching a post-crisis world. Still, expectations for Davos are mixed.
"Actually, we don't expect very much," said Alexis Passadakis from the German section of the anti-globalization group attac.
"Those people who meet in Davos are those who are responsible for the world economic crisis we are facing now. The governments and the companies who meet there were responsible for the liberalization of world trade and world finance and are responsible for what's happening now," Passadakis said.
Some business experts would beg to differ.
"It's useful to have this debate," said Hans-Werner Sinn, head of the Ifo Institute, one of Germany's major economic think tanks.
"We have lots of countries which are not represented in the G20 or G8 meetings so they have an opportunity to meet now and also raise their voice and there are some important people also coming to this event so I find it basically very fruitful."
Broad range of topics
And debate they surely will in Davos. During 57 sessions, participants will tackle issues ranging from climate change and new business models to sustainable development, which are all important and worth talking about.
But probably, by most people's standards, the World Economic Forum can only be called a success if it shows ways out of the current global economic crisis.