The World Economic Forum has postponed its annual meeting in Davos yet again due to concerns about the transmissibility of the Omicron variant. In an announcement on Monday, 20 December, the WEF stated that the meeting - initially scheduled for 17-22 January 2022 - will now be moved to early summer.
It is the third time the massive international event has had to be rescheduled: initially planned for December 2020 in Davos, it shifted to August 2021 in Singapore due to the pandemic situation conditions in Europe. Then it was shifted again to January 2022 as coronavirus outbreaks surged across Southeast Asia, only to now be postponed once more thanks to COVID-19 - ironic given that the agenda of the meeting has, since 2020, been intended to address the growing economic, political, and social challenges brought on and then worsened by the pandemic.
"Current pandemic conditions make it extremely difficult to deliver a global in-person meeting," the announcement said. "Despite the meeting’s stringent health protocols, the transmissibility of Omicron and its impact on travel and mobility have made deferral necessary."
Instead, the organisers plan to hold a series of online 'State of the World' sessions featuring global leaders, who will discuss solutions to the world's 'most pressing challenges' - including the pandemic itself.
Professor Klaus Schwab, Founder and Executive Chairman of the World Economic Forum, has declared that going digital is not going to impede the WEF's mission, and that the organisers still intend, eventually, to hold a physical meeting.
“The deferral of the Annual Meeting will not prevent progress through continued digital convening of leaders from business, government and civil society,” he said. “Public-private cooperation has moved forward throughout the pandemic and that will continue apace. We look forward to bringing global leaders together in person soon.”
Image: The World Economic Forum Annual Meeting 2020, held in January 2020 before COVID-19 went pandemic.