When Klaus Schwab started the World Economic Forum 41 years ago, I’m sure he had a lot of good intentions. I’m sure he saw this as an opportunity for the world leaders to get together and discuss about the more pressing concerns plaguing the planet and to come up with ideas to battle them. However, he did not foresee that in the year 2011, forty-one years after inception, the WEF has served more as a networking platform for the filthy rich to get richer and the filthy poor to deepen their envy.
Some of the more interesting facts about the annual Davos WEF, that you probably didn’t know and might shock you are also some of the most over-looked aspects of these forums each year. The price of admission is as steep as USD $600,000 for a party of four people, including the cost of travel, accommodation, dinner and drinks. But since the main action happens in private dinners hosted by the influential rich, the cost shoots up into the upper stratosphere.
Everyone who attends the WEF is given a dedicated Mercedes S Class sedan and a driver with door-to-door pick-up facility. Awesome, isn’t it? Mr. Schwab confessed this year that “…he is concerned that governments and international organizations can no longer cope with the capacity and fast pace of this new reality.” This is quite a statement considering the USD $115 million in revenue that Davos 2011 is expected to generate.
I’m confused – can’t some of the more ‘cheaper’ problems be solved with only half that amount? Do the world leaders really need to spend an insane amount of money just to get together in a remote ski-resort and discuss the world’s problems and go “Tut, tut,” and nothing more concrete. Perhaps the most glaring chink in the Davos armor was revealed in 2010, when the WEF discussed all the problems in the world and missed Europe’s sovering debt crisis, which resulted in a lot of criticism and bad press for the leaders.
This year again, one hopes that Davos will prove to be a starting point for something more substantial than weighing chequebooks, but one feels the need to shelve these hopes.
For a detailed account of the moneys being spent at Davos, check this article at NY Times.
PS: This year at Davos, world leaders in business, politics and industry are encouraged to bring a female companion along to increase the diversity of the gathering.
PPS: U2’s Bono is attending this year’s Davos WEF, ostensibly to contemplate on the world’s problems. Ha!