Davos Insider: 6 Themes for the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting 2020

As the final weeks of 2019 begin to settle in, eyes and minds are quickly shifting focus toward what the new year will bring. For many of our clients, that means setting sights on The World Economic Forum’s Annual Meeting in Davos – a highly anticipated gathering of the world’s top government, business and civil society leaders taking part in discussions that help shape the political, social and economic agendas for 2020.


Our Ketchum Davos Insider team looks forward to Q4’s “Davos planning season” each year, as we begin preparing clients and their organizations for the topics and discussions likely to drive the agenda and dominate the post-Meeting conversation. Each year the Meeting commands a huge media presence and attracts many voices vying for attention. As communications professionals who have extensive firsthand experience in Davos, we can attest that the voices that stand out are those authentically demonstrating how their organization and expertise intersect with the key themes to be discussed.

Taking place January 21-24, 2020, this year’s Meeting brings leaders together under a theme of, “Stakeholders for a Cohesive and Sustainable World.” As the World Economic Forum marks the 50th anniversary of this premier annual gathering in Davos, Switzerland, expect these six themes to lead the way…

  1. The Shift from Shareholder to Stakeholder:
    This summer, the Business Roundtable (BRT) – a group of nearly 200 CEOs of major U.S. companies – proclaimed that a corporation’s purpose should balance the needs of shareholders with stakeholders. Expect sessions and dialogues to center on how business will act within this new mandate – all within a backdrop of the Forum, which itself was founded on a multi-stakeholder concept.
  2. Climate Change:
    On the heels of 2019’s UN Climate Change Summit and the wave of strengthened climate commitments from business and government that stemmed from it, expect climate change to be a continued driver of heighted dialogue as participants evaluate not only what to do, but how to most accurately and swiftly measure the critical progress that must be made to keep global warming limited to 1.5ºC.
  3. Measurable Goals and Progress:
    From the Science Based Targets initiative to the rise of Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) investing and reporting, demand is growing on business to show measurable progress on its social impact goals and commitments. The Forum’s International Business Council has also committed to publish a universal “ESG Scorecard” at the Annual Meeting – putting further emphasis on the need for accountability.
  4. Inclusivity:
    From the financial and legislative, to the geographic and societal, the need for greater inclusion is a topic destined to permeate nearly every global challenge discussed in Davos. And with fears of economic recession on the rise, the need to combat rising tides of inequality is growing in importance and prominence.
  5. Global Leaders:
    As Brexit talks continue, the U.S. kicks off a presidential election year and eyes remain on leaders in Russia, China, the Middle East, South America and more, we can expect the topic of fractured domestic political landscapes to once again be a driving force of dialogue.
  6. The Fourth Industrial Revolution:
    Now a perennial topic of the Forum’s meetings and events, the Fourth Industrial Revolution recognizes how new technologies are creating wholesale change across all industries, at a rapid pace. The Annual Meeting will continue to explore how to best harness technology’s potential and equally combat the (perceived) threats it poses in the realms of cybersecurity, job security and data privacy.

If you or your organization are attending this year’s Meeting, Ketchum’s team of Davos Insiders bring more than a decade of in-house and on-the-ground experience with the World Economic Forum and can help you anticipate, prepare and activate against the themes above in a way that authentically connects them to your business’s mission and messaging. To learn how we can help your organization lend a voice to the discussions and navigate the ins and outs of the Annual Meeting, contact our Davos Insider team at, [email protected].