Ten key aspects of WEF

How much does it cost to be a partner or member of the World Economic Forum (WEF) and to attend the annual meeting in Davos? How much does Switzerland spend on security during the four-day event? We answer your top questions. (SRF/JH/ 

This content was published on January 17, 2017 - 10:01
Andrea Ornelas and Patricia Islas

1 What is the WEF?

The World Economic ForumExternal link (WEF) is a Geneva-based foundation, operated and funded by a private international initiative. It has partners and members who make financial contributions to the organisation’s activities and who exchange experiences and tackle multiple issues in various parts of the world. The main annual meeting is held in the Swiss mountain resort of Davos every January. 

2 Who are its partners?

A select group of 100 large multinationals such as ABB, Nestlé, Barclays, Credit Suisse, Deloitte, Deutsche Bank and Google. They participate in agenda decisions and provide the bulk of the funding: each chips in CHF115,000 francs ($113,500) a year. 

3 And its members?

Some 1,200 companies, including the 1,000 largest companies in the world, according to the WEF. Each pays around CHF31,500 a year.

4 How much does it cost to attend the Davos forum?

Partners and members pay an additional CHF45,000 so that the company president or director can attend Davos.

5 And everyone else?

Government representatives and other actors outside the WEF are invited to Davos. 

6 What support does Switzerland give the annual meeting?

Switzerland acts as host. The formal inauguration of the WEF annual meeting is given by whoever holds the rotating Swiss presidency. This year it is Doris Leuthard. 

The Swiss government believes that the Davos meeting is an “extraordinary event for Switzerland” and that it offers a unique opportunity within its borders for high-ranking figures to meet and exchange views on global problems and solutions. 

To guarantee ground and air security during the annual meeting, the defence ministry can employ up to 5,000 of its staff and a budget of around CHF28 million. The public authorities – federal, cantonal and communal – contribute an additional CHF9 million for police services and other surveillance tasks.

7 Why does the Davos annual meeting have such a reputation?

It brings together more than 2,500 political, business, social, scientific and media leaders from more than 90 countries to discuss the most relevant issues on the global agenda. The WEF says its commitment is “to improve the world”. 

8 Has the WEF made any significant changes in the world?

Not directly. Its mission is to facilitate dialogue and the exchange of ideas. But it has been the framework for important meetings and initiatives.

9 Why is it criticised?

Critics call it a “club for rich businessmen” who say they have good intentions but who only care about and further their own interests. Critics see the WEF as the promoter of globalisation, which has increased poverty and destroyed the environment. 

10 Does the WEF take these criticisms into account?

Partly. For several years the WEF has also been working on issues such as inclusion and sustainability and has included representatives of civil society, science and culture on the guest.

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