John Kerry spricht mit TeilnehmerInnen, Theresa May erklärt, Bob Moritz PWC hört zu und Ernst Welteke überlegt sich eine Antwort ...

Our last article about the WEF 2020 Davos (in German) is about dialogue, or rather, the lack of dialogue in corporate blogs, especially on topics like climate change, health, etc. Here, we want to further examine the event itself and the impressions it made with regard to the important topics of climate protection, health, etc., because both authenticity and rational opportunism were present. This article is part two of our WEF Davos 2020 analysis and the third article in our series, Marketing Trends 2020 (KPI and AI). Check out this entry in German here.

We spent time both in groups and alone at the WEF, and this article features a taste of the many impressions of Marketing Club Lago members and the drkpi team, plus a short video on the Swiss Railways (SBB) and climate change.

What does the event cost?

As an SME, a visit to the WEF is actually impossible without an invitation from the organizer or a WEF member. Membership costs between approximately CHF 58,500 (US$ 60,000) to over CHF 195,200 (US$ 200,000). On top of this, there is the cost of individual registrations for the forum itself of approximately CHF 12,700 (US$ 13,000) per person. Then one still pays for accommodations and additional costs like a meeting room or a room host your own event with catering, etc.

Even though invited guests and President Trump do not have to pay a fee as participants, the taxpayer has to pay for this expensive fun. For example, vehicles hired by the US Secret Service for Ivanka Trump’s shuttle service in the Davos area cost approximately CHF 33,200 (US$ 34,000). The total price of the two-day visit to the WEF 2020 Davos for the American delegation and the US President will cost the taxpayer more than CHF 3,903,600 (US$ 4 million).

Outside the main venue, dozens of events have been established, which use the WEF to gain more interest and sponsors. Simple access to the hotels, which gives just one person access to a secured zone, costs about CHF 200 (US$ 205) per week. Often this is sold only via packages, which contain additional offers, so that the whole thing costs about CHF 3,000 (US$ 3,075).

  • Would your company be willing to send you to Davos? Have you been there before? Tell us about your experiences in the comments, we are curious!

WEF 2020 Davos: So everybody knows who they’re talking to…

From day one, every guest at the WEF is classified according to a hierarchy. What does that mean? You are assigned signs according to your “function” in the company and “importance” to the business world. So at first glance, it is clear which position you are in. Category 1 stands for the absolute VIPs and category 7 for less important people. Even the entourage of US President Donald Trump experienced this. For example:

  • President Donald Trump has a badge that identifies him as Category 1, “Head of State”.
  • Ivanka Trump, daughter and advisor to the President, is Category 7, i.e. “Functional Staff”.
  • Jared Kushner, husband of Ms. Trump, is categorised as assistant and senior advisor to the President and his WEF badge places him in Category 4, “Sub-Ministerial Position”.

The share of people in each category is particularly revealing: overall, 46% of this year’s participants were listed as category 1 and 0.75% in category 7. Considering how difficult it is to get an invitation, having nearly half the guests belong to Category 1 also shows the type of people the WEF prefers for their event. However, why a guest is placed in one category or another, or put on display (or not), the WEF does not explain.

  • What do you think of the WEF’s hierarchical organization?
WEF 2020 Davos: Dein Schild sagt aus, wie wichtig du bist!
WEF 2020 Davos: Your badge shows how important you are!
  • What did you notice and remember about the WEF 2020 Davos?

Health is almost no longer affordable?

OrphanHealthcare Foundation Director Dr. Frank Grossmann (MCLago member) was invited to the WEF by The Economist magazine. He discussed the future of healthcare systems in a breakfast forum starting at 7 am.

As with climate protection, not everything is green in the healthcare sector. Unfortunately, “The world is on fire…” is not only indicative of climate change: everything is too expensive, sluggish, and inefficient or unsustainable. In fact, we can no longer afford our healthcare system, even in most OECD countries. These high costs also mean that many people in the world do not get the care they need.

The panel was top-class and therefore it is not surprising that facts were provided that remind us of the situation of people with rare diseases.

WEF 2020 Davos: Simonetta Sommaruga President of Switzerland and Member of the Federal Council - Die Welt is in Flammen - auch in Sachen Gesundheitsversorgung... The Economist Healthcare Panel.
WEF 2020 Davos: Simonetta Sommaruga, President of Switzerland and Member of the Federal Council – The world is on fire – also in terms of healthcare… The Economist Healthcare Panel.

Climate change: Opportunism as far as the eye can see

The view from the top should be more than the bottom line.

Goal 17 Partners #Goal17Solutions

“Goal 17” refers to the 17 goals that are at the center of the United Nations’ sustainable development agenda through 2030. For example, the group had attached this banner to a house (in the picture on the right). The goals are praiseworthy and desirable, but do the leaders of industry live by them?

WEF 2020 Davos: Ideale Bühne eigene Schwächen mit Publicity zu überspielen, d.h. die perfekte Selbstdarstellung - Donald Trump und Fortune Global 500.
WEF 2020 Davos: Ideal stage to cover your own weaknesses with publicity, i.e. the perfect self-presentation – Donald Trump and Fortune Global 500.

The conflict between commitment to climate protection and profit orientation is obvious at the WEF. Greed for profit seems universal at a time when participation in the WEF is devouring money, when large companies want to make big profits and are campaigning for Corporate Social Responsibility.

The problem is that the two have not yet come to an agreement: Joe Kaeser, the head of the Siemens corporation is an example of this. He tries to stage himself on social media, offers a seat on the supervisory board to the climate youth, but then at the same time tries to earn money from the coal boom in Asia and Australia. Ignoring climate change over profit?

Another example is the PWC, which has also offered its own event parallel to the WEF. PWC has hired, i.e. paid for, top-class speakers, such as Theresa May, former Prime Minister of Great Britain (see contribution photo at the top, Theresa May with Bob Moritz as moderator).

At this event and also during the WEF Davos, Bob Moritz was repeatedly asked about the revelations about Angola’s ex-president’s daughter. Because the auditor – PWC – will probably have to explain for a while yet why the probable illegal money transfers were overlooked. Moritz always commented on the whole thing with the same comment:

I am shocked and disappointed.

Bob Moritz, PWC, WEF 2020 Davos, in connection with the Luanda Leaks

Receptions were also organized by countries themselves, parallel to the WEF, in order to present themselves to the illustrious group of participants. They tried to put themselves in the right light. The focus is on PR, image and the country as a brand. All in the hope of further stimulating investors, buyers or even tourism.

The coronavirus was also an important issue in terms of country image and health care, although a possible risk of infection by the three participants from Wuhan was not taken into account.

WEF 2020 Davos - Auch Länder nutzen das WEF für Promotionszwecke wie z.B. zur Erhöhung der Bekanntheit, Image Verbesserung, usw. Bsp. Indonesia.
WEF 2020 Davos – Many countries, including Indonesia, also use the WEF for promotional purposes, such as increasing publicity, image improvement, etc.

WEF 2020 Davos: Social Networking

Those who have the option are spoilt for choice. The WEF 2020 Davos was certainly worth the trip, and the social events were the most important, including chance meetings in a bar or at a small reception (there were several hundred during the week). My finale was on Friday evening at the 3rd Annual DEWA WEF DINNER (see below). The atmosphere was very nice, the food was wonderful and there were interesting discussions with very interesting and authentic experts from different countries and industries. Really a very successful conclusion.

  • Would you be interested in visiting the WEF?

WEF 2020 and climate change: conclusion

The WEF’s efforts in climate compensation are commendable: Davos 2020 – CO2 neutral. Greta Thunberg, as star guest, naturally also addressed climate change. However, presenting it mainly as a situation that demands sacrifices from all of us is not the strategy that will necessarily lead to success. Here are a few examples of individual “sacrifices”:

  • Flying means CO2 emissions (estimated at 3.7% of global greenhouse gas emissions), but by 2025 the ICT sector’s estimated share of greenhouse gas emissions will rise to almost 8%.
  • The annual increase in digital energy consumption accounts for around 9%.
  • Streaming songs on Spotify or movies on Netflix uses 1,500 times more energy than the normal operation of a smartphone, i.e. simply making a phone call.
  • If you watch a video for 10 minutes via the cloud, you use the same amount of electricity as if you were to keep a 2000-watt electric oven running at full power for 5 minutes (i.e. at around 225 degrees Celsius).

Climate change requires major changes from all of us. A price on CO2 emissions, energy consumption, etc. is a good approach. The WEF 2020 has already taken some steps in the right direction, but banning limousines from the event and using only public transport would be even better.

Because what annoyed almost all of us were the limousines and minibuses that clogged the streets in Davos during the WEF. They made it difficult for us pedestrians or public transport users and also polluted the air – unnecessarily. However, getting a head of state to the eevent by public bus is still a bit difficult.

As a private citizen, on the other hand, this writer (Urs E. Gattiker) only used public transportation. But the increasingly common occurrence of cancelled SBB trains overtook me on one of the days I went up to Davos, and I had to organise a ride at short notice. Luckily, I managed, and was only 1.5 hours late arriving in Davos. I missed the one event, but was able to attend the next one.

  • What’s your opinion? How can WEF participants save energy and help care for the environment?

Talk is cheap, and discretion the better part of valour. Individuals also spoke a lot about the need for changes to mitigate climate change, but did not act accordingly. In her speech on Tuesday morning, EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen made the climate crisis a central challenge, calling on the international community to act. But the day before, a limousine drove her to a meeting with Swiss Confederation President Simonetta Sommaruga and picked her up again. She could not be found on Davos public transportation during her stay. A case of rational opportunism – using the WEF as a stage for oneself, but not setting a good example. Unfortunately, many of the top-tier guests are not much different from Donald Trump.

PS: For the last WEF event on Friday evening, Frank and I also had to use the car, because you can’t make the trip to Zurich on the train after 10 pm – there is no bus from Davos Monstein to Davos Platz after 7 pm… The rest of the week we all tried to make it by bus and train.

Helena Helmersson, CEO of the fashion chain H&M

Helena Helmersson, CEO of the fashion group Hennes & Mauritz (H&M) was a little annoyed in Davos. Perhaps she was most in tune with the spirit of the times when it came to the dialogue at the WEF 2020 Davos on sustainability, environmental protection and fair production:

We should talk less about these things and do more instead.

WEF 2020 Davos, Helena Helmersson, CEO, H&M

This post is also available in: German

8 replies
  1. Alma
    Alma says:

    Very nice job.
    When I was reading about Bob Moritz #PWC it reminded me about the recent case against EY where the liquidator hit the company with a €95m damages claim.
    One has the Luanda Scandal to deal with, the other the “cum-ex” case in Germany.
    And we should trust these accounting firms to audit carefully and thoroughly?

    • Urs E. Gattiker
      Urs E. Gattiker says:

      Thanks Alma for stopping by ein sharing with us your opinion.
      Yes, the #liquidator CMS Hasche Sigle is suing the #accounting firm #EY for € 95 mio in damages.
      As you point out, the scandal centers on so-called “cum-ex” trades by Maple Bank. The latter was put into liquidation in 2016.

      The claim states that apparently the law firm = exploit loophole in tax code by tricking authorities into refunding tax on dividends that had never been paid.

      Apparently, the liquidator first suit the law firm Freshfields. The latter settled with the liquidator and paid € 50 mio.
      Now the court appointed administrator is suing #EY because the auditor approved these shady if not outright illegal transactions when auditing the Maple Bank’s books.

      TRUST is hard to come by and supposedly lost in seconds…. but both PWC and EY are doing quite well regardless of these “mishaps”. Apparently, in some areas of business it is harder to loose one’s customer’s trust than in others

  2. rosanne
    rosanne says:

    I like this synopsis of the WEF week. I also looked at the previous one cool.
    What bothers me is that we all talk about sustainability but when it comes to our own behavior, we appear not that willing to do anything for the environment.
    I do not mean stop eating meat or even flying…. but trying to fly less, use the car less often when going to town and so forth is a great start.

    • Urs E. Gattiker
      Urs E. Gattiker says:

      Hi Rosanne

      Thanks for sharing. Yes, when it comes to having to curtail or change our own behavior, we are less forthcoming than we should be…
      It is easy to say what should be done but be unwilling to use the train to travel from A to B. Rest assured, using public transport has its priviliges. One example being when my #SBB (Swiss Federal Railway) train was cancelled and I had to find other means to get to Davos.
      If everybody tries to do better, just a bit… like avoiding Uber next time or the cab but using public transport instead… that is a good start.
      Thanks and have a great weekend.

  3. James Fem
    James Fem says:

    What a nice surprise that I found this entry about WEF Davos.
    Yes it is a bit of a shame talking so much about climate change while using limo service to go from one venue to the next when buses are available or one could even walk… what a concept.

    • Urs E. Gattiker
      Urs E. Gattiker says:

      Dear James
      Thanks for commenting. Yes it is easy to talk about climate change and suggest or tell us what we should do. Nevertheless, changing one’s behavior and doing something for reducing one’s own CO2 footprint is another story completely.
      Refusing plastic bags at the store and bringing your own re-usable bag is what I did today when I did my weekend shopping. We all can do something and yes, every little bit helps including using public transport whenever possible instead of a limo service.
      Have a great weekend.

  4. JamesFem
    JamesFem says:

    Thanks for replying to my comment.
    You write.

    Refusing plastic bags at the store and bringing your own re-usable bag is what I did today when I did my weekend shopping. We all can do something and yes, every little bit helps including using public transport whenever possible instead of a limo service.

    That is a great start, beginning to change oneself instead of pointing a finger at everybody else.

    Interesting pictures, interesting reflections… Luanda Leaks… now Switzerland also has the Crypto Leaks
    Where will it end.
    Have a great weekend.

    • Urs E. Gattiker
      Urs E. Gattiker says:

      Dear James
      Thanks for replying again. Well Crypto Leaks is another thing totally. Luanda Leaks was part of the Davos sideshow, especially at the PWC private event.
      That the spies got involved is, of course not necessarily great but intelligence has been snooping around for decades and nothing changing that. What worries me a bit is that Federal Councillors in Switzerland new about the company and the German intelligence service as well as the one from the US or CIA being involved but kept it under wraps at the time. Moreover, now they claim not having known….. maybe their memory served the wrong or they forgot? But the facts and protocols even by the Swiss government seem to indicate Koller and Villiger know about it at the time.
      Crypto Leaks ==

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