What Comes Down from the Mountain? (The World Economic Forum 2016)

January 21, 2016

This week the World Economic Forum is meeting in the Swiss town of Davos. Many of us aren’t aware of this or if we are, don’t think anything will come out of it that is useful to our work. Historically this has been true but today’s “Davos” is a bit different. There is some good news and some less good news regarding the changes. First the context (the not so good news):

1) Only 18% of attendees are women
2) An Oxfam report shows that only 62 people own the same resources as half the world and Davos still is where it is primarily the 1% who meet.

The good news, over the past few years Davos has become more transparent (at least for the formal sessions):
1) A gathering like the WEF has the resources to livestream many of its sessions, and over the past few years they have instituted a robust livestreaming program. You can follow live or watch some of the archived webcasts as you have time here. Primarily through a youth leadership program called Global Shapers, there also are voices brought in virtually from around the world.
2) Although as noted above, those represented at Davos are still primarily those who are well resourced and well connected, there has been a small opening to those who have not traditionally been represented including women, civil society leaders and social entrepreneurs. And there has been more organizing around traditionally less heard groups such as #AfricainDavos.
3) There is more discussion around civil, community and public engagement and multi-sector collaboration and partnerships. “Talk can be cheap” but direct talk (among stakeholders from different sectors) is a start and is beginning to lead to some action (see resources below for some examples).
4) Connections are being made from one major global initiative to another for example from the Sustainable Development Goals (signed last year) to the World Humanitarian Summit in May in a very public way. This is an improvement from how we have historically focused on one major ‘event’ and then jumped to the next without more publicly identifying and articulating the implementation steps that must link these efforts together for the effort expended to be worthwhile.
Resources
Convergence – new portal for multi-stakeholder cooperation around funding
Too important to fail – addressing the humanitarian financing gap
Civil Society Platform for Sustainable Development Goals