Anna Lopeza Portuguese-Canadian businessman and philanthropist, was visiting the World Economic Forum in Davos 2015 when something unexpected happened.
She said about “I was actually there with my husband.” Don Tapscott, the famous Canadian author, entrepreneur and blockchain pioneer who was the official guest. “But couples are given access to almost all events — it’s not like we’re sent to basket-knitting lessons or hanging out at the spa.”
Ms. Lopez – former president of Center for Addiction and Mental Health Foundation In Toronto – This access put her on a dinner with a small group of experts on global mental health issues, one of her primary philanthropic interests. Ms. Lopez was introduced to a young researcher who recently developed a smartphone app to help patients access caregivers and manage often complex treatment cohorts.
“At the time, we didn’t really allow teens to have access to phones,” she said of mental health services. “They were considered annoying.” But Ms. Lopez was impressed by the technology and recognized its potential to digitize treatment protocols and improve patient outcomes.
“I’ve returned the research to our team in Toronto,” she said. Within a few years, the Center for Addiction and Mental Health had developed its own patient care app similar to the one that Ms. Lopez had originally encountered in Davos.
“He really gave us a whole new world of possibilities,” Ms. Lopez said. “It was a huge step to allow patients to manage their disease and their treatment.”
As global elites gather for the first real-world edition of the World Economic Forum in more than two years, Davos will once again face praise for its far-reaching influence and claim to be little more than a festive alpine podium for politicians. And the wealthy. But for people like Ms. Lopez – academics, philanthropists, NGO leaders, policy makers – Davos is the rare forum whose critical mass of intellectual decision-makers offers unparalleled opportunities to make change happen and actually get things done.
“Davos provides a level of closeness to like-minded thinkers that is truly unparalleled,” said Ms. Lopez, who is purposefully looking for health-focused seminars and events there. “You know who people are, why they are there and how to find them, and that makes conversations not only easy, but very powerful and effective.”
For the veteran attendees in Davos Jane’s wine — Former Vice President of Private Wealth Management at Fidelity and author of The Financial Approach and forthcoming book “Invisible Wealth” — these conversations form the basis of what she calls “relationship capital.” And Davos is the capital of relationships – which Ms. Waynes defines as “the intangible super-asset that is the foundation of all progress”. It’s the value derived from the intentional conversation and communication that makes everything happen at Davos.
For Mrs. Waynes, Davos has historically served as a place to identify potential charitable efforts to implement and operationalize back home. Recently, I helped establish 100women @Davosa group of female CEOs, leaders and “change makers” who are capitalizing on the long-term opportunities and relationship capital created at the Forum to give women global standing and decision-making powers.
Either way, Davos junk food may not be immediately obvious and require time to develop. “It may take some time to peel back the layers and maximize the opportunities that exist at Davos,” said Ms. Waynes. “But the people you meet there really become a part of your ecosystem.”
This was the case with New Development BankThe BRICS countries – Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa – were set up to make better use of their economic resources for large-scale infrastructure and sustainable development projects. Although officially launched in 2015, the bank was initially set up in Davos in 2011 by initiators Joseph E. Stiglitz, Nobel laureate and former chief economist at the World Bank; Lord Nicholas Stern, Professor at the London School of Economics (and former Chief Economist at the World Bank); Former Ethiopian President and Prime Minister Meles Zenawi.
Mr. Stern said the trio had previously collaborated on a range of global development issues and were frustrated “with a truly backward system that has seen savings from poor countries flow into rich countries”.
Working together, they developed a proposal to create a new bank focused on emerging markets that would directly benefit the developing world. As early working sessions preceded the World Economic Forum, Mr. Stern said of the plan’s rapid evolution from concept to reality at the 2011 event, “We really decided in Davos to go for it.”
Mr. Stern acknowledges that Davos can look like a place where the pursuit of profit and deal-making in the private sector can seem critical. But Davos also has a basic altruism where socially minded efforts such as the NDB have the best chance of progressing.
“We used our connections at Davos and our international connections to give our idea the necessary level of oxygen,” Mr. Stern continued. “In Davos you can make major decisions within 24 to 48 hours; everything in Davos can move very, very quickly.” Four years later, at the official BRICS summit in Shanghai, the long-awaited bank debuted.
The New Development Bank is one of several large-scale global initiatives that debuted in Davos, increasing its ability to communicate instant causes with important stakeholders and end users around the world. else Gavi, Vaccine Alliancewhich was launched on the forum in 2000.
As in the mission of the World Health Organization, Gavi is a far-reaching partnership between vaccine manufacturers, governments, donor agencies, philanthropists, and researchers to develop and implement large-scale immunization and vaccination plans in developing nations. With all of these partners already in Davos, launching Gavi immediately made sense in terms of logistics and logic.
Since its founding, he said, “Gavi has protected more than 900 million children, and prevented more than 15 million deaths in the future.” Dr. Seth Berkeley, CEO of Gavi in an email. In the years since Gavi’s initial launch, Davos has also served as a backdrop for additional Gavi-related phases, including the creation of Covax, a global initiative to provide equitable access to Covid-19 vaccines, which Dr. Berkeley said was designed in Davos in 2020.
The push to “do good” may conflict with Davos’ public image, but it may encourage the kind of radical thinking that can even challenge the idea of wealth itself. Take the organization, for example National MillionairesA group of wealthy people seeking to reduce economic inequality.
Earlier this year, along with a more modest “virtual Davos” in January, the organization released a letter signed by more than 100 global millionaires and billionaires. Demanding the super-rich to pay more taxes.
International Director, Rebecca Gowland, explained that National Millionaires are seeking to ensure more equitable taxation of wealth around the world so that all countries can develop truly equitable tax systems.
“We want to set global minimum standards for wealth taxation like we do with corporations,” explained Ms. Goland, whose organization includes heiress Abigail Disney, an outspoken critic of excessive accumulation of wealth.
Although many in Davos attendees may have rejected the “tax the rich” dogma, Ms Gouland said the launch at the World Economic Forum was an intentional, if not obvious, choice.
“The wealthy at the highest levels are usually somewhat isolated, so the opportunities to engage with them are very limited,” she said. “But we knew there was a community of other wealthy people out there – and these are the people we wanted to target.”
Since the 2022 Davos Call to Action — which built on a similar call during Davos in 2020 — Ms. Gouland said the number of National Millionaires members has expanded. There are over 200 members in the US and a growing base in Britain. and across the world, which it attributes in part to the “Davos Network”. Most importantly, although global tax reform remains a long-term possibility, the Davos link “drives the agenda into the future and keeps it in place,” Ms. Goland said.
Ultimately, as Davos watchers like Ms. Waynes and Ms. Goland suggest, the World Economic Forum presents the greatest opportunity for organizations and initiatives with great ideas whose impact will be felt for decades to come.
It’s not that the “Davos men” and “Davos women” lack short-term processing capabilities. Rather, no global gathering can rival Davos for the sheer focus of exceptionally influential and connected power brokers with the ability to transform “eureka” moments into concrete, actionable, long-term policies that truly impact everyday life.
“Davos is probably the most interesting global institution in the world,” said Canadian author, entrepreneur and blockchain pioneer Mr. Tapscott, Ms. Lopez’s husband. He said the forum was “much ahead of its time” when it came to raising issues around cryptocurrencies. “Davos represents a leading edge of a fundamentally new paradigm for how to tackle global problems.”
Mr. Tapscott Co-founder and CEO of the Blockchain Research InstituteHe witnessed this paradigm shift firsthand. In 2020, he was part of the World Economic Forum’s working group that launched Presidio Principles,” which is more commonly described as the ‘Blockchain Bill of Rights. “
Mr. Tapscott said the principles started as a working group in Davos and evolved into a call to action aimed at standardizing safeguards for corporate and individual blockchain users.
“Davos was the place where people from every corner of the world came together to draft, rephrase, discuss the language of the bill and eventually publish it,” said Mr. Tapscott. “Because Davos is about multi-stakeholder collaboration.”
Mr Tapscott continued: “Sure, there are plenty of rich and famous people out there, but what’s really happening in Davos could be a lot different than many people imagine.”