Business leaders and politicians from around the world are gearing up to attend another session of the World Economic Forum (WEF), in Davos, Switzerland next week. This year marks the 50th anniversary of the event in the Swiss Alps and its theme is “Stakeholders for a Cohesive and Sustainable World.” The annual economic gathering will run from January 21 until January 24. Take a look at some of the most prominent names attending this year’s event.
Sanna Marin, prime minister of Finland
At 34, Sanna Marin is the world’s youngest serving prime minister as well as Finland’s third female leader. She heads a four-party coalition government, whose leaders are all women too. At the time of her appointment, in December, she said she never thought about her age or gender. “I think of the reasons I got into politics, and those things for which we have won the trust of the electorate,” she said.
Ursula von der Leyen, president of the European Commission
The former German minister for defense became the head of the EU’s executive arm in December. The new president of the European Commission has many pressing subjects to deal with, including gathering support for her new climate change package. The European Green Deal, a proposal launched in December, aims to make all the EU countries climate neutral by 2050.
Christine Lagarde, ECB president
The newly-appointed head of the European Central Bank is a well-known figure at WEF. Lagarde, the first female president of the ECB, used to visit the event in her role as managing director of the International Monetary Fund. This time around her words in Davos will be even more closely monitored, as investors look for further clues about the central bank’s strategic review. Lagarde made headlines in late 2019 when stating she wanted the ECB to make climate change a priority.
Greta Thunberg, climate activist
The 17-year old Swedish climate activist is due to return to Davos this year. Time’s “Person of the Year” in 2019 has a clear message to lawmakers and business leaders: commit to divest from fossil fuels now.
“We demand that at this year’s forum, participants from all companies, banks, institutions and governments immediately halt all investments in fossil fuel exploration and extraction, immediately end all fossil fuel subsidies and immediately and completely divest from fossil fuels. We don’t want these things done by 2050, 2030 or even 2021, we want this done now — as in right now,” Greta wrote in The Guardian newspaper.
Ren Zhengfei, Huawei Technologies founder
Technology has always been a key point of discussion at Davos and this year won’t be any exception, with 5G technology being a crucial part of the debate. Huawei has led the 5G race across the world, but at the same time it sparked some division between traditional allies, such as the United States and the European Union. U.S. authorities have raised concerns about Huawei’s connections to the Chinese government, which it denies, and took steps to bar the company from selling its technology in the U.S. market. Meanwhile, the European Union is still forming its collective answer to the issues, but the German government announced it does not want to outright block the Chinese firm.
Kristalina Georgieva, managing director of the IMF
The Bulgarian national was appointed head of the International Monetary Fund in the fall of 2019. She will be presenting the IMF’s latest economic assessment in Davos, joined by Gita Gopinath, the institution’s chief economist.
Deepika Padukone, Bollywood star
She is an internationally-acclaimed actress and mental health ambassador. Padukone will be awarded with one of the WEF’s Crystal Awards. She was recently pictured standing silently behind students protesting against the Indian government. The Bollywood star surprised many, given that members of the movie industry tend to avoid politics. Deepika has been named by Time magazine as one of the 100 most influential people in the world.
Steven Mnuchin, U.S Treasury Secretary
U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin led the discussion in Davos in 2017, having said at a news conference that a weaker dollar was good for the United States. His comments represented a shift in U.S. policy and sparked a dollar sell-off.
George Soros, chairman of Soros Fund Management
The billionaire investor George Soros is a familiar face in the Swiss Alps. In the last edition, Soros expressed his concerns over President Donald Trump’s foreign and economic policy.
“An effective policy towards China can’t be reduced to a slogan. It needs to be far more sophisticated, detailed and practical; and it must include an American economic response to the Belt and Road Initiative,” he said.
Donald Trump, U.S president
U.S. President Donald Trump is set to attend this year’s WEF. Trump cancelled his participation at the event in 2019, amid a row with the Democratic Party over security spending.