Trust is the aim at Davos as leaders tackle COVID-19 and climate crisis
Juliet Mann in London

It is the time of the year when resolutions and plans are put in place – and the final week of January is crucial for business brains and political leaders with their annual Davos get-together.

Each year, this is when the world's elite take part in the World Economic Forum (WEF ) in the Swiss Alpine resort of Davos, where the stage is usually set for discussions on what the year ahead will bring and how the world can come together to address the big challenges.

This year, the five-day event has been forced online – and the focus of the virtual summit will be the three "Cs" of COVID-19, climate and cooperation.


"The most important aspect of our annual meeting in Davos and much of the work that the WEF does is to bring people together to find solutions to world's problems," said Saadia Zahihi, managing director of the forum.

"I think we can make a lot of progress as long as the will is there."

The organizers have outlined that 2021 is a crucial year to rebuild trust, with sessions focusing on critical issues such as COVID-19 vaccination programs, job creation and climate change.

The backdrop is stark, with the global economy facing its worst crisis in living memory. Debt surged to a record $258 trillion in the first quarter of 2020 with economies shut down to curb the spread of COVID-19 and relief measures put in place.

From managing the direct consequences of the COVID-19 crisis to decision-making in areas like health, finance, energy and education, there is now a huge responsibility on world leaders, central bankers and other influential figures to get the recovery right.

The goal when they log on to The Davos Agenda will also be to innovate to drive a robust economic recovery in a dramatically changed political landscape.

"It is necessary to really enhance global trade again to accelerate economic growth," said WEF president Borge Brende. "We can't solve it overnight."

But kick-starting these big conversations will help set the agenda for the G7 and G20 summits and for the UN's big 2021 climate conference, COP26.

While Davos this year cannot be the usual networking-fest it has built its reputation upon, it is the first opportunity of 2021 for business leaders to come together – albeit virtually – to discuss jobs of the future, the green economy and how to steer sustainable growth.

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