UNITED NATIONS. AGAIN, QUO VADIS DAVOS? DOES CLIMATE CHANGE MEAN DUMPING SHARON STONE FOR CLAUDIA SCHIFFER?

 

AGAIN, QUO VADIS DAVOS? DOES CLIMATE CHANGE MEAN DUMPING SHARON STONE FOR CLAUDIA SCHIFFER?

15 February 2007

It was once again that time of the year to brave the inclement Swiss Alps weather in order to be reassured how important you are. Never mind those different badges separating the rich from the super rich; the influential from the very influential; finding lodging in Davos itself or in a nearby suburb; staying at the Zeehof or thrown elsewhere; lecturing or just listening; "whining" and dining or pining to find a seat near someone you could write home about. The fact is: If you're already there, you've arrived. Even as a "young global leader" -- the most fictitious and least considered of those six degrees of separation -- you could claim with some air of importance that you're the next Prime Minister of Bulgaria.

Peter Ustinov used to say that in the Cannes Film Festival you met in one day all those you tried to avoid all year round. Yet in Davos it is different. Unless you have a very beautiful woman with you, the lines are strictly drawn. Accommodations in the village are very limited, transportation is under control and the weather is not conducive to after dinner strolls. However, there are many consolation prizes, like vintage wine-tasting or playing chess along with 25 others -- against a world master champion. Themes, issues and speakers cater to different clientele, with varied taste. There are the regular annual guests and the new and renewable ones, depending on influence, importance or fees paid.

A noticeable difference this year is the absence of media gimmicks like the $100 laptop or $75 malaria tent. Also diminished is the number of avid entertainment divas or self-designated rock stars. The creative Professor behind it all discreetly explained that a cooling down was needed to focus on the issues and allow for interaction among people of influence and thought to focus together with a conducive atmosphere. That may well be true. There was less posturing and more dialogue. Some cynics, however, claimed that Angelina Jolie was no more available and otherwise preoccupied after giving birth to her own baby from actor Brad Pitt. It is also wryly commented that Sharon Stone, a former regular, made a judgment mistake by taking a role in Basic Instinct II, where her appearance did not make the same impression as in the first movie ten years ago. That is why, apropos a debate on climate change, this year it was Claudia Schiffer who took centre stage.

Another change is the absence of counter-Davos gatherings or popular anti-globalization demonstrations. The Professor has wisely balanced the focus and diversified the participants to avoid heated controversy while attracting high paying participants. And other groupings have realized that Davos was not all it was cracked up to be. It is a very useful networking venue in which very valuable ideas are proposed and practical projects change hands. Which way it is going depends on whether it is perceived within its real context or whether it turns into an ego trip.