Prime Minister Alexander de Croo (Open Vld), Deputy Prime Minister Petra de Suter (Green) and Flemish Prime Minister Jan Jambon (N-VA) will attend the World Economic Forum meeting in the Swiss mountain village of Davos in the coming days, where senior politicians and CEOs will meet to talk about Big world problems.
The World Economic Forum, founded by German economist Klaus Schwab, has been bringing together leading politicians, business leaders and NGOs for five decades. Supporters describe the organization as a super intellectual institution where ideas are exchanged at a high level and, above all, connections are made. Critics speak of an elite club, a debate bar where the atmosphere of “we know us” reigns.
Since January 2020, just before the coronavirus took over the world, the event took place physically. Initially, the intention was to resume the annual custom in January of this year, but due to the uncertainty surrounding the omikron variant, the organization chose to postpone further until the end of May. Approximately 2,500 participants are expected to participate.
History at a turning point
The main theme this time is ‘History at a turning point’. While many topics are on the agenda, including climate change, health and cyber security, Ukraine appears to be the main focus. On Monday morning, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky will deliver a speech via video link. Russian participants are not welcome this time.
Dozens of government leaders and chief executives flock to the mountain village. They include European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, US climate envoy John Kerry and German Chancellor Olaf Schulz.
There are a number of Belgians on the list of participants. From a political point of view, these are Prime Minister de Croo and Deputy Prime Minister de Sutter on behalf of the federal government. Among the regions, the Flemish Prime Minister Jambon participates. The Belgian business community is also represented, including senior executives from Ageas, Solvay, Umicore, DEME and the Port of Antwerp.
De Croo planned for several political and economic meetings. The official program participates in a panel discussion on the war in Ukraine with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, among others.
De Souter is in Davos to talk about digital challenges, the climate crisis, diversity and women’s leadership. “In times of climate crisis and loss of purchasing power, it is more important than ever that business leaders and world leaders look them in the eye and are asked to help solve these challenges. By being here I want to underscore the urgency of this task,” she explains.
Flemish Prime Minister Gambon has also planned several meetings, including with potential investors for Flanders. During the previous cycles, according to the Gambon Cabinet, Flanders succeeded in convincing many international companies of its economic advantages. “The companies that the Flemish delegation met in the last three editions of Davos made a total of 43 investment projects worth €3.1 billion.”
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