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WEF unveils dual physical and virtual Davos summit in 2021

The World Economic Forum (WEF) annual conference in Davos will take place in January with fewer physical participants – but with a new “virtual” connection to more than 400 cities around the world.

The introduction of a “powerful virtual hub network” at the 51st edition of WEF’s flagship event will allow a younger generation of “global shapers” to dial into the conference digitally. The platform will also be open to the public, WEF announced on Wednesday.

“There have been various voices calling for WEF to be downsized,” WEF managing director Alois Zwinggi told Swiss public television, SRF. “Having a smaller number of participants will help us better tackle various challenges such as traffic. Of course, our income will also be reduced. But it’s important that the meeting can take place at all.”

The number of physical attendees will halve from around 3,000 to a maximum of 1,500 next year. Zwinggi said it remained to be seen if this would prove to be a blueprint for later editions of the conference that brings together world leaders in the worlds of politics, business, finance, civil society, science, arts and religion.

The WEF Davos meeting next year will run under the theme of “The Great Reset”. WEF founder Klaus Schwab said rebuilding the world after the coronavirus pandemic would present both challenges and opportunities.

He called for an emphasis to be placed on climate change, sustainable economic growth, social cohesion and equal opportunities.