WEF annual meeting moves from Switzerland to Singapore

The snow of Davos will be replaced by the tropical climate of Singapore for WEF next year. © Keystone / Christian Beutler

The coronavirus pandemic has forced the World Economic Forum (WEF) to relocate its flagship event to Singapore next year. It will be only the second time in 50 years that it will be staged outside of the Swiss mountain resort of Davos.

This content was published on December 7, 2020 minutes

The 51st annual meeting of business, political and civil society leaders will take place in Singapore between May 13-16, WEF announced on Monday. Organisers added that it plans to return to Davos in 2022.

The event has moved out of Switzerland in stages. Having been advised not to hold the meeting in Davos on its traditional January date, organisers looked for another venue in Switzerland for next summer.

The pandemic had also forced a slimmed-down, half virtual meeting next year, it had been previously announced. But now it has been forced to move out of Switzerland altogether.

“The change in location reflects the Forum’s priority of safeguarding the health and safety of participants and the host community. After careful consideration, and in light of the current situation with regards to Covid-19 cases, it was decided that Singapore was best placed to hold the meeting,” read a WEF statement on Monday.

A separate virtual event, called “The Davos Agenda”, has also been scheduled for January 25-29, the original date set for the annual meeting. It will aim to “rebuild trust and shape the principles, policies and partnerships needed for 2021”.

The only other time that WEF has staged its annual meeting outside of Switzerland was in 2002. That year it was held in New York out of solidarity for the city struck by the 9/11 terrorist attack months earlier.

Last week, Swiss parliamentarians wrote to Economics Minister Guy Parmelin, warning of hundreds of job losses if WEF was not held in Switzerland.

The flagship WEF event contributes tens of millions of francs each year to both Davos and the Swiss economy as a whole. Many hotels and restaurants rely on the annual influx of wealthy participants for a large slice of their income.

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