FEATURE29 April 2019

The other side of Davos

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Beyond the world’s elite gathering to discuss the globe’s problems at the World Economic Forum, Tim Phillips finds a ‘New Davos’, focused on more practical approaches to understanding people and using data to make a difference


Some claim, not unreasonably, that the CEOs and politicians in Davos – flown in by 1, 500 private jets and helicopters to debate how we should reduce our carbon footprints – experience reality second-hand. But this is precisely why the annual World Economic Forum still takes place in Europe’s highest town: it is so inaccessible to the general public that the global elite can do novel things once a year, like walk down a street.

That said, Davos has its own class system, with the colour of your badge determining the events you can visit – and even which of the streets you are permitted to walk along.

One suspects, then, that this may not be the ideal venue to discuss the disruptive forces of populism, inequality, job insecurity, and the sense that unrestrained capitalism needs to be reined in. On the main stage, the panels arranged for Davos’s upper classes often manage to agree simultaneously that we ...