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When looking back at some of the highlights of the Word Economic Forum over the past 20 years, it is clear that this famous conference is able to bring about action. The behind-the-scenes networking enables the powers that be to really work on their mission of improving the state of the world.

The Swiss Alps have long had a reputation for being a hotspot for the powerful and rich elite, who hit the slopes of Davos for the World Economic Forum (WEF). As such, the town of Davos has become a stage for the world leaders, chief executives and billionaires attending WEF discuss economic, environment, technology and societal change. These visitors normally descend on our town of Davos, and take in the pure mountain air and unspoilt landscapes that often give guests of The Residences at the Hard Rock Hotel a total sense of wellbeing.

Last year’s theme was Globalisation 4.0 and while the event itself was one of the last major global events that took place before the whole world went in to lockdown, the outcomes and discussions, were as always, as insightful as ever. One of the most important topics discussed, revolved around Sir David Attenborough’s view on of the natural world, and how the acceleration of climate change is damaging the place we call home, Earth.

In the year of 2019, an interesting development at WEF was the announcement of New Zealand’s wellbeing budget. Jacinda Ardern PM, unveiled a new approach to finances, addressing the societal impact of the economy and policy on the quality of people’s lives. This highlights a global commitment for countries to carve out deeper interests and focuses on how policies and environments affects society’s wellbeing. This has always been a priority in the town of Davos, as well as a focus for the team behind the Residences at the Hard Rock Hotel Davos, who understand that the places we reside in should make positive contributions to the wellbeing of its owners.

The importance of WEF does not stop with there, but is actually enshrined in the cultivation of a global community over 20 years, between world leaders and industry disruptors, all looking for ways to advance society.  

Here we pay homage to WEF in Davos over the last 20 years:

 The fourth industrial revolution – in 2016, everyone (including the much-loved Leonardo DiCaprio) debated automation and the AI take over. Then, it was about how technology had started to take over roles once best suited to human interaction and why world leaders were worried that in five years’ time there would be seven million jobs at risk.

Today, this cannot be more relevant because while, for some industries a world without work is not so far from the truth, albeit more down to a virus than robotics; technology has been our life line through the pandemic. Here in Davos we too have been using our laptops more and offering virtual tours for visitors, who want to escape and find out about our living at the Residences at the Hard Rock Hotel. 

While other talks centred around a slowing economy in China, climate change affecting wildlife and the then Vice-president Biden pushing for a cure for cancer, we wonder how many people were listening to the most relevant topic of the day when Microsoft’s Bill Gates led a talk on how to prepare for a pandemic. 

 During the 2011 WEF conference titled, ‘Shared norms for the New Reality’, world leaders expressed concern with the problems faced by living in an increasingly complex and interconnected world where they argued, “shared values and principles are seemingly diminishing.” The discussions looked at changing social behaviours of the millennial generation, a worldwide scarcity in commodities and natural resources and new social and environmental demands on business to name a few. It celebrated an avoidance of the collapse of the global financial and economic system as we pulled through a recession years earlier and spoke about support for the G20 Summit to make financial systems more risk resilient. The emphasis was about bringing the world together to make it a more stable one while highlighting how important it was that there was global awareness of the key issues. Representatives from Switzerland also advised on the ways the country maintained resilient through the global financial crisis – a reflection of the strength of the Swiss economy, which has also remained strong throughout the pandemic. 

The overall theme for 2001’s WEF, some 20 years ago, feels very different from where we are now. There was a shift in topics to social and environmental accountability. The theme was entitled ‘Sustaining Growth and Building the Divide’. It included discussions such as ‘Beyond the first wave; next moves for the internet’; ‘creating common ground to expand the multilateral trade system’ and ‘Europe of my dreams – the views of European business’. It also saw the creation of the Disaster Resource Network (DRN) following the wake of a major Indian earthquake the week of the meeting, set up to prevent and mitigate human suffering associated with disasters that has since played an important role in international relief efforts.

When looking back at some of these highlights, one thing for sure is that WEF is able to bring about action. The behind-the-scenes networking enables the powers that be to really work on their mission of improving the state of the world.

Here in Davos, we will be keeping a close ear to the topics that will be discussed for the conference this year, and look forward to more positive outcomes. We want to be ready for a healthier, happier 2022 and remain confident we will by then, all be more connected than ever and working in unity when the effects of the current pandemic crisis have ceased to exist.