Davos 2009: with global crisis in mind

Some 2,500 guests from 96 countries are gathering at the World Economic Forum in Davos. It has already been called one of the most significant Davos forums in the event's 40 year history.

Around 1,400 are business participants more than 40 heads of states and governments are expected to attend.

This year’s forum will be opened with a keynote speech by Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin

“Russia is going to play a critical role both at Davos and much more broadly. On the economic side, it has an extremely important role to play. But also on the political side – we are delighted to have Prime Minister Putin here for that reason,” said WEF Managing Director Robert Greenhill.

The agenda will involve around 300 plenary sessions, round table discussions and high-level talks.

The atmosphere this year will be more ‘austere’ without the usual expensive receptions. Thus, champagne will give way to cheaper white wine, and few celebrities have been invited to attend the forum.

Despite the theme being 'Shaping the Post Crisis World', the current state of affairs remains all too clearly present and pervasive. Virtually everyone here is expecting the financial crisis and potential solutions to dominate the discussion.

“The crisis is so deep and so few people understand it well, that it will be more of a brainstorming and the ideas of a good network on how to find a common solution,” said Bernardo Gredin, CEO of Braskem SA in Brazil.

Even the NGOs share this sentiment.

“I think the foremost issue that I can see coming out of it will be the financial issue – because it’s crippling the world and it’s an inevitable piece of conversation,” said Sean Rush, President and CEO of JA Worldwide

With the world’s financial system in the middle of an existential crisis, this congress centre is likely to turn into an intensive care ward for the next several days – with everyone discussing how to save the global economy. Whether any solutions are found or not, the outcome of the Davos meeting could well echo across the world.