The World Economic Forum held annually in the Swiss town of Davos is a meeting of world leaders, business executives, activists and other high-profile personalities who shape the global economic landscape. This year marks the 50th anniversary of the event, and it is expected to be a significant event in setting the scene for how a number of emerging trends develop.
This year we will hear from the United States (US) President Donald Trump; Greta Thunberg, the teenage environmental activist; the United Kingdom’s Prince Charles; and the Bank of England’s Mark Carney, among many other luminaries. The theme for the event is “Stakeholders for a Cohesive and Sustainable World” and with the range of views on offer, it is inevitable that sparks will be flying with President Trump having already withdrawn the US from the Paris Climate Agreement in 2017, after fulfilling a major campaign promise. With 2020 being another election year, it will certainly be interesting to analyse the policy direction he is likely to indicate in his speech at Davos. Of course, to balance that out, we also have to open our minds to the voice of Thunberg, as a representative of the millennial generation who may, as a result of climate change, face a rather bleak future.
Sustainability appears to be a key theme at the moment, and at Davos questions will be asked not only about climate change, energy transitions and inclusive growth, but also of relevance to us as investment analysts, what the investment industry (among others) is doing to address these challenges. Certainly, global politics recently point to a growing discontent with the current order. With Carney attending, we can expect to hear how the finance industry will respond to such discontent.
Geopolitics is never far from any gathering of world leaders, and many back-room meetings are likely to take place having started the year with the military actions in the Middle East, this region is likely to be high on the agenda of such meetings.
As always, Davos is likely to provide us with a lot to think about and to heed the call to action that sustainability is not just your neighbour’s business, it is all our business.