Making it on the participants list at the World Economic Forum (WEF) annual meeting is no easy feat. Just around 3,000 people make the cut. Despite efforts to attract more young people and women, the average participant is still a man in his 50s from Western Europe or North America.
So, who can you expect in this elite crowd? More than half of the participants are from business, with a large portion chief executive officers and directors, such as Glencore CEO Ivan Glasenberg and Roche Chairman Christoph Franz.
Of the more than 330 public figures, 60 heads of state are expected to attend, including Swiss President Ueli Maurer and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, as well as many new faces including recently elected leaders of Iraq, Brazil and Ecuador. Over 40 heads of international organisations, including Robert Azevedo of the World Trade Organization (WTO) will attend.
Although more than half of the participants come from Europe and North America, both China and India each have more than 100 people attending. And, host country Switzerland? There are more than 300 from the Alpine nation that made the list although more than 30 of them work for WEF.
Less than a quarter of the participants are women – a figure that has hardly budged from the previous year. The group includes diverse leaders from the New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern to Winnie Byanyima, the Executive Director of Oxfam International.
The voice of youth
The 49th edition of the WEF annual meeting in Davos will focus on how major technological disruption will shape a new era of globalization. With over 350 sessions on topics such as the “cybersecurity workforce of tomorrow” and “Investing for the long haul”, the organisers recognize the need to bring more voices of the next generation into the discussion.
While less than 130 participants are 30 and under, the WEF has invited six of its young “Global Shapers” to co-chair the meeting alongside Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella, in the hope they will maintain the focus on the needs of future generations.
The youngest participant at just 16 is the South African wildlife photographer Skye Meaker, while the oldest is 92-year-old Sir David Attenborough, the renowned wildlife and natural history broadcaster, who has used his work to draw attention to climate change.
Other special guests and cultural leaders include U2 singer Bono, Malaysian actress Michelle Yeoh and award-winning filmmaker Sharmeen Obaid Chinoy from Pakistan. WEF has also reported that Britain’s Prince William will attend to discuss his work on mental health.
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