Davos 2024: What to expect


The world’s movers and shakers are packing their ski boots this weekend and heading to the Swiss mountain resort of Davos for the 54th annual meeting of the World Economic Forum. At CDR, we’re advising clients around their on-the-ground presence: from who to meet and where they can stay warm! Our Senior Consultant, Alex Winch takes a look at what to expect when they get there.

The bags are being packed this weekend with warm clothing and the sub-zero Davos temperatures prepared for. This year’s WEF event will see over 100 governments in attendance alongside over 1000 corporate partners, society leaders, social entrepreneurs and many major international organisations. It comes alongside the continuing Ukraine war, Israel’s war on Hamas and a still uncertain financial climate. As with last year’s event and also the recent COP28 summit, there is a strong presence expected from the United Arab Emirates, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and other Gulf nations, further demonstrating their efforts to be recognised as global leaders of the future.

The recently released Global Risks Report 2024, published by the World Economic Forum, concludes how the biggest global threats in the next two years are extreme weather, AI-generated misinformation and disinformation, societal and/or political polarization, the cost-of-living crisis and cyber-attacks.

This year’s event leads with the thematic focus on “Rebuilding Trust”, especially with an ever-growing expectation of global leaders to demonstrate how – through strategic collaboration – they can support building a better society that is more resilient to any future challenges.


Agenda for this year’s event

The WEF 2024’s programme revolves around four critical themes:

  1. Achieving security and cooperation in a fractured world: Addressing immediate crises, such as the ongoing conflicts in the Middle East, while tackling structural forces of fragmentation.
  2. Creating jobs and growth for a new era: Reimagining economic frameworks to foster growth and job creation, emphasising people-centric approaches in a potentially low-growth decade.
  3. Artificial intelligence as a driving force for the economy and society: Leveraging AI for societal benefit while managing regulatory challenges and technological advancements in other areas like 5/6G and quantum computing.
  4. A long-term strategy for climate, nature and energy: Developing systemic approaches for a carbon-neutral and nature-positive world by 2050, balancing trade-offs for social consensus.

Media intelligence

The vast majority of reporters attending WEF have a business, economics and banking focus. As such, the expected areas of interest among the confirmed media attendees are more aligned with finance-related topics but technology, renewable energy and climate-focused discussions will continue to remain at the forefront. That said, we’ve also learned from POLITICO that most of their events at WEF this year are focused on AI rather than topics covered previously such as climate. Additionally, a number of trade journalists are not attending this year, so we should expect a reduction in media coverage live from the event – with many publications covering from afar.

Key events to be aware of

Alongside special addresses on Tuesday by Li Qiang, Premier of the People’s Republic of China, Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission and Volodymyr Zelenskyy, President of Ukraine, there are also numerous events that may be of interest. Tuesday also sees a session entitled Next Steps for Digital Worlds, featuring Sir Martin Sorrell, which will look at the metaverse and what gaps are needed to be closed to go from boundless opportunities to realizing the metaverse potential, as well as a session entitled Software.gov which will focus on how the private sector and governments can work together to achieve effective cooperation to help realise the changing digital demands of the global population. On the climate front, there is a session entitled Transforming Energy Demand, which will look at what can companies and governments do to enable economic growth with less energy?

Wednesday 17th sees panel discussions around Cybersecurity Futures which will look at the key driving forces that will shape the long-term future of cybersecurity and how they can inform leaders’ strategic plans across the globe and also a panel called The Battle for Chips which will look at the semiconductor industry and what impact restrictions will have on both innovation and the competitive landscape in advanced chipmaking. Keynote speeches for the day will come from António Guterres, Secretary-General, United Nations and Emmanuel Macron, the President of France. Another session, titled Tripling Renewables: Make It Rapid and Responsible and which focuses on what strategies leaders can deploy to make the transition to renewable energy rapid and responsible, will be of particular interest following COP28.

Thursday’s session entitled Technology in a Turbulent World which assesses how technology can amplify humanity and features panelists such as Jeremy Hunt, the UK Chancellor and Sam Altman, CEO of OpenAI, may be of interest and we will be following this closely. We will also be following the session called Where Global Commerce Is Headed, which looks at the changing patterns of global trade.

We will be following events in Davos closely as we support our clients there. Preparations for Davos 2025 will begin as soon as this year’s event ends so please get in touch if we can be of support.