Davos was Cancelled This Week. Does It Matter?

  • National Newswatch

For many years the issues discussed at the World Economic Summit in Davos, Switzerland, were primarily economic challenges, global trade, and, naturally, the expansion of the international free market system. For politicians, policy wonks, billionaires and celebrities, it was one of the great global gigs from its inception in January 1971. This year's event was scheduled to commence yesterday, so it's inevitable that there were hundreds of disappointed elites when they learned that this year's event has been “deferred” until summer, depending on the pandemic.Watching the encroachment of significant social and environmental challenges consuming larger parts of the Davos agenda has been interesting.  One was just as likely to see an activist like Greta Thunberg, or a Bill Gates or British PM Boris Johnson.  For serious global thinkers, it was becoming clear that climate change and poverty had increasingly dramatic effects on economies or the financial industries.  Work security, especially for women, and access to affordable housing were other critical obstacles to global progress.There has always been something out of sync with the yearly gathering of the elites at Davos.    They would speak about addressing global warming while arriving in their private aircraft.  The big corporate execs would talk about the need for qualified workers when their own ranks were filled with minimum-wage employees.  It got even worse whenever they complained about the lack of adequate educational resources while at the same time they were lobbying for ever-lower taxes.  Political leaders like Donald Trump would show up, talking about making politics more meaningful when they were in the process of gutting public confidence in democratic institutions.  Now that the world is in the grip of the pandemic, there is little reason to look in their direction for a new generation of healthcare funding to prepare for the next time around.Following two decades of poverty decline for the world's most desperate (which had been called for at previous Davos summits), such gains have been lost as the gap between rich and poor relentlessly widens once more.  The practice of vaccine apartheid, which sees the vaccines monopolized to a great degree by the prosperous nations, has hardly been raised to the “urgent” category by the Davos set.If the global influencers had gathered this week, they would have to acknowledge a growing anti-vax movement, most recently popularized by Serbian tennis star Novak Djokovic.  It continues to receive subtle assent from the globally wealthy when they should have been rebuking it outright.Every year, the rest of the world watched the great gathering at Davos, hoping for some breakthrough, something that could set a struggling world on a more enlightened path. Yet, for some reason, the nestled location in the Alps couldn't bring it about. Some of the right people were always there, but the wrong outcomes inevitably emerged.  The same problems endure year after year, which is now added to the most significant health emergency in a century.Since global finance is supposed to be one of the event's specialties, we could assume a united effort to curtail the growing international debt would be a suitable project for such leaders.  But with the event cancelled for the last two years, governments have been left to essentially manage what has become an increasingly unmanageable set of global crises.As the world creeps slowly towards the edge of something we can't fully determine, it would be helpful to know that the most connected of the global superclass had our best interest in their sites.  The summit didn't happen last January, nor this month, but maybe something significant will emerge if they meet this summer.  But since there have been dozens of gatherings over the years that somehow failed to prevent the emergencies we are now enduring, it wouldn't be a surprise if those struggling through it all in their communities just gave it a pass.Glen Pearson was a career professional firefighter and is a former Member of Parliament from southwestern Ontario. He and his wife adopted three children from South Sudan and reside in London, Ontario. He has been the co-director of the London Food Bank for 35 years. He writes regularly for the London Free Press and also shares his views on a blog entitled “The Parallel Parliament“. Follow him on twitter @GlenPearson.