Oxfam, Davos, and The World Economic Forum

Last week’s four-day meeting of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland received a bit of press, but not all of that press provided a real picture of the events taking place during those four days. Other than a few prominent participants, not many widespread media reports discussed the people who were assembled there and why this gathering carries meaning for the health of the global community and our shared path toward peace and international justice.

The 2018 WEF Meeting

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This year’s event focused on the theme of “Creating a Shared Future in a Fractured World”. Among the business leaders and politicians who attended the summit, the discussions and speeches included titles like “Saving Economic Globalization from Itself” and “Finding Equilibrium in the Middle East”.

But this year, some of the surrounding commentary reflected the possibility that business leaders may not be the voices best equipped to elucidate on the subjects of economic equality or global justice. In other words: maybe the richest among us don’t actually speak for all of us.

In an interview with Al Jazeera, Max Lawson, the head of Oxfam International’s Equality Policy, shared some insights. "The main critique (of the event) is that it is a manifest failure of imagination," said Lawson. WEF attendees "have had many years now of hand-wringing about the growing gap between rich and poor, and very little to show for it … This is clearly because business as usual is good business for those at the top. Ultimately it is public mobilization and public anger that will lead to progressive change."

According to its own website, the WEF is a non-profit foundation established in 1971 and committed to “improving the state of the world”. The group does this by bringing people together and encouraging dialogue, with the ultimate aim of shaping industry and political agendas.

Each year, the WEF event in Davos gathers a few thousand attendees from over 100 countries with the hope that the resulting conversations will inspire solutions to global challenges.

But as it happens, a report published by Oxfam revealed that in 2017, half the world’s population received no share of the world’s increasing global wealth, and already-established billionaires (a very small group) increased their collective wealth by 762 billion, enough to end “extreme poverty seven times over”. This raises some legitimate questions about how truly committed the Davos attendees are to resolving the issues underpinning the persistence of global poverty.

Contact Just Atonement to learn more, and please feel free to download and review the full Oxfam Report (“Reward Work, Not Wealth”) by clicking here.