While Davos 2020 has come to an end, we wanted to look back to see which were the most significant takeaways. From frosty international relations to the hot topic of climate change, these were the most noteworthy moments:
Year of the Unicorn: Even before the speeches kicked off, predictions were flying. The Financial Times predicted that despite the focus being on Big Tech consumer giants in the past, 2020 would be the year of the unicorn. The World Economic Forum invited an unusually high number of private tech companies, which according to the publication signified “ea turning point in the technology sector, where money has become more concentrated in private hands.”
The Growing Gap: Historically, Davos has always acted as a stage for nations to tango and 2020 was no different, with the spotlight following the growing rift between the U.S. and Europe. President Trump expressed his frustration with European tariffs and trade barriers, commenting that it was harder to do business with Europe than with China. On top of this, the U.K. and France had spats with the U.S. over tariffs, The European Commission criticised Trump’s bullying style and illiberal politics. On top of these other European countries, such as Spain, openly discussed the climate crisis suggesting the importance of policies directly opposed to the U.S.’s approach.
The Outlook Pendulum: With fractures openly showing in the political sphere, the pessimistic outlook of delegates is hardly surprising. A survey by PwC said there had been a dramatic swing from record levels of optimism just two years ago to record levels of pessimism in 2020. The FT suggested this was down to the growing attention to the costs of global warming and anti-capitalist sentiment. They also indicated that the rise of populism has created “cognitive dissonance” for the executive at Davos.
Climate Change: There was a definite shift in topics from last year, as gender equality and diversity took a step to the side for climate change, renewables and sustainability to have their moment under the microscope. The week started off with President Trump calling climate activists “prophets of doom”, but this did little to set the tone. Other headline-grabbers were Prince Charles and Greta Thunberg, who both called for immediate and effective action, a sentiment shared by both Spain and Finland. Big Business said it would tackle climate change, but didn’t offer an outline on when or how this would happen, much to the chagrin of activists.