World Economic Forum kicks off in Davos

The World Economic Forum begins in Davos, Switzerland, Wednesday, January 20
The World Economic Forum begins in Davos, Switzerland, Wednesday, January 20 REUTERS/Ruben Sprich

The World Economic Forum began yesterday in the mountain resort town of Davos, Switzerland, just as global stocks took a tremendous dip and oil prices hit a multi-year low. Following a poor economic outlook, one of the key shifts in discussion at this year's event has been a drive away from emerging economies.


Brazil's economy is in shambles, the Chinese slowdown is having a negative effect on what is already sluggish international growth, and Russia is having trouble diversifying its economy beyond oil.

“There can only be reassurances and I think these type of things are cyclical,” Lawrenec Saez, a professor of political economy at the London-based School of Oriental and African Studies told RFI.

Saez says he is hoping there will be more of an emphasis on how these problems are handled moving forward.

“What people should be talking about is how we respond to those things,” said Saez.

Established in 1971 by German born Swiss engineer Klaus Schwab, this year’s Davos event features appearances by an A-list of world leaders, including UK Prime Minister David Cameron, US Vice President Joe Biden, and Canada’s newly elected Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. Hollywood actor turned climate activist Leonardo DiCaprio will also be there.

Gender parity is high on the agenda this year.

Only 18 percent of the estimated 2500 attendees at the Forum are women this year, a statistic the conference is working to change.

Last year the Forum created the Global Agenda Council on Gender Parity, for example, a task force working to raise gender awareness worldwide.

“There needs to be specific point on gender parity [at the conference]," Gertrude Fester, a feminist and former professor at the University of Rwanda told RFI.

“We need to be cognizant of more than 50 percent of the population of the world, whom in many cases are voiceless powerless, and just sidelined and marginalized.”

Some of the events and talks will also highlight the migration crisis, and its potential economic and political effects on the European Union (EU), which analysts say has the potential to either boost of hinder the EU economy, depending on how future events unfold.

“On the one hand an influx of refugees may have a positive impact because there’s going to be public expenditures which can have a positive effect on the overall GDP,”

Yves Pascouau, the Director of Migration and Mobility Studies at the European Policy Center in Brussels told RFI.

"On the other hand,” says Pascouau, “the lasting positive impact will be maintained only if refugees will be able to integrate into the labor market, which is going to be very difficult to achieve.”

The forum will continue to be held through Saturday, January 23.




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