Davos kicks off with Ukraine as top agenda

First in-person meeting after 2-year hiatus due to pandemic.

Davos kicks off with Ukraine as top agenda

Global leaders, policy makers, and activists gathered on Monday for the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos, Switzerland after a two-year hiatus due to the pandemic

This year Russia's ongoing war with Ukraine is the top agenda.

Also in focus are the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, climate change, and the role of multilateralism for peace in Europe.

In a video address, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy urged business leaders at Davos to leave Russia if they had not done so yet.

Any company which leaves Russia is welcome to relocate to Ukraine, said Zelenskyy.

"Companies would benefit by truly supporting freedom," he added.

Russia normally has its own display at Davos, but this year the spot has been transformed by Ukrainian artists into a "Russian War Crimes House."

In his opening remarks, WEF founder Klaus Schwab said: "In Davos, our solidarity is foremost with the people suffering from the atrocities of this war.

"This war is also personal to me. My earliest childhood memory is sitting in a shelter and hearing the bombs coming down. My life was and is devoted to reconciliation and bridge building efforts, and I never would have imagined that the unacceptable specter of war in Europe would become reality again.

"We will do whatever we can in Davos to support Ukraine, its people, and its recovery. And the World Economic Forum hopes that – one day - the space for bridge building emerges once again."

He also highlighted the pressing challenges brought about by climate change, COVID-19, and the global economy.

"The challenges cannot be addressed by governments, business, or civil society alone," he said, calling for collaboration between the public and private sectors.

International Monetary Fund (IMF) chief Kristalina Georgieva also warned the global economy could be facing its biggest test since World War II.

"We can start now by lowering trade barriers to alleviate shortages and lower the prices of food and other products," she said.

"Not only countries but also companies need to diversify imports -- to secure supply chains and preserve the tremendous benefits to business of global integration," she said.

"While geostrategic considerations will drive some sourcing decisions, this need not lead to disintegration. Business leaders have an important role to play in this regard."

Hüseyin Demir