Six of the best Davos talks

The great (and possibly the good) have gathered today in the luxury Alpine resort of Davos for a five day meeting to discuss the world's problems.

by Adam Gale
Last Updated: 18 Jan 2016

The most powerful people on Earth began the morning with a mindfulness meditation session in a picturesque Swiss town today, as they prepared to discuss the world's most pressing issues over vintage champagne and canapes.

Founded in 1971 as the European Management Forum by Klaus Schwab and expanded to have a more global outlook in 1987, the World Economic Forum (WEF) gathers 2,500 leading figures in business, politics and academia for five days of talks and debates. No fewer than forty heads of states will be among them, although the Queen is otherwise engaged.

The WEF describes itself as an 'international institution committed to improving the state of the world through public-private cooperation', and its membership is notably made up of 1,000 billion-dollar companies. Some criticise it as a result, seeing the Davos forum as a gathering of a moralising, out-of-touch super elite.

It isn't exactly the most representative of groups. Only 17% of the delegates are women, and only a quarter come from outside western Europe and north America. It's also hard to quantify exactly what difference the meeting makes to policy, but one thing's for sure. The guys at Davos know how to put on a programme of events to make any current affairs geek/celebrity watcher salivate.

Here's a few of the more weird and wonderful sessions.

1. The end of QE

Just as the Eurozone decides quantitative easing's en vogue, the leaders of some of the world's most powerful financial institutions talk about how to wean ourselves off it. IMF boss Christine Lagarde will be joined tomorrow by Santander dynast Ana Botin and master of the universe/Goldman Sachs boss Gary Cohn. European Central Bank boss Mario Draghi is notably absent (anyone would think he had some kind of important, QE-announcing monetary policy meeting tomorrow).

2. Al Gore chats with Pharrell Williams about climate change

How better to convince the world about the need to cut back on carbon that to jet in a failed presidential candidate and a singer to tell you all about it? They spoke this morning, but sadly didn't break out into a duet.

3. Tech titans talk

Unless they make a habit of meeting up for chats in Silicon Valley Starbucks without anyone knowing, Davos delegates have a rare chance tomorrow to hear Microsoft boss Satya Nadella, Google executive chairman Eric Schmidt and Facebook operations chief Sheryl Sandberg discuss the future of the digital economy.

4. Abdullah ibn al Hussein

Ladies and gentlemen, the King. Of Jordan. Abdullah discusses peace in the Middle East on Friday. Having been on the throne since 1999, he's sure to have seen a thing or two.

5. George Osborne and George Soros on recharging Europe

Soros, the man who broke the Bank of England and a fierce critic of European economic management, teams up with Osborne on Friday to figure out what can be done with the continent. Still no Draghi.

6. Will.i.am

What gathering of the most influential people on Earth would be complete without the Black Eyed Peas singer/rapper making an appearance? He discusses youth entrepreneurship on Friday.

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