World Economic Forum Declares 2023 the ‘Year of the Polycrisis’

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Davos summit doubles down on ESG policies amid shortages, inflation, and rising dissent

World Economic Forum (WEF) chairman Klaus Schwab announced the kick-off of the 53rd annual meeting of political leaders, corporate executives, and activists in Davos, Switzerland, declaring that the summit will focus on rededicating its members to a progressive climate and social-justice agenda in the midst of what he described as “unprecedented multiple crises.”

“The theme of our meeting in Davos is cooperation in a fragmented world,” Klaus stated. In what the WEF calls the “Year of the Polycrisis,” Klaus declared that “economic, environmental, social, and geopolitical crises are converging and conflating, creating an extremely versatile and uncertain future.”

“We are all stuck in a crisis mindset,” he warned, but reassured attendees that “the annual meeting at Davos shall try to make sure that leaders do not remain trapped in this crisis mindset but develop a longer-term, constructive perspective to shape the future in more sustainable, more inclusive, and more resilient way.”

This WEF summit features a record turnout from many of the most powerful government and corporate officials. There will be 379 public officials attending, including 30 heads of state, 56 finance ministers, 19 central bank governors, 39 heads of global organizations, including the United Nations, the International Monetary Fund, and the World Trade Organization. There will also be 1,500 executives from 700 companies, including 600 CEOs from the world’s largest corporations.

“We have the key players globally,” said Borge Brende, one of several WEF managing directors, “to create collaboration even in this fractured world.” He also noted that the WEF is expecting “a high-level Chinese delegation.”

This year’s agenda includes doubling down on the transition to renewable energy, the codification of environmental, social, and governance (ESG) standards to make compliance more measurable, “social and green jobs for building inclusive and sustainable economies,” and “diversity equity and inclusion [DEI] lighthouses,” and a global risks report.

“How do we build the inclusive, sustainable, and resilient growth?” asked Saadia Zahidi, managing director of the WEF. “A group of leaders from the public and private sector will be coming together to address exactly that question, designing a framework, and starting to align around that new agenda.”

By Kevin Stocklin

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