The Davos aesthetic, snow boots, spikes and suits, looks discordant anywhere else in the world. The Davos debate is similar.
10,000 liberals huddle together for warmth away from the biting chill outside and from the more polarised politics on the rise around the planet.
The theme this year is ‘Globalization 4.0: Shaping a Global Architecture in the Age of the Fourth Industrial Revolution’. The apparent threat of a roll-back of globalisation is rightly the topic and the anxiety underpinning much of the discussion this week; US-China trade war, the (non)viability of decoupling China from the rest of the global economy, the move to a more bipolar or a multi-polar world. Caixin’s breakfast debate in the morning led with that theme. This afternoon, Chinese Vice President Wang Qishan urged cooperation over confrontation in US-China relations: "This is a reality, either side can't do without the other side. So, the conclusion is that there has to be a mutual benefit and win-win (relationship)”. He puts up a robust assessment of China’s economic and social development, cooperative ambitions and the need for mutual respect. He deflects anxieties over slowdown (“6.6% is...not low at all”). And with world leaders in short supply this year, Vice President Wang is one of the biggest draws. Of course, also on the Davos sidelines the apologetic mutter is often heard, “what does Globalisation 4.0 actually mean?”
One speaker this morning referred to an ageing population and an ageing world. David Attenborough belied that yesterday, with his ever youthful, impassioned and wildly gesticulating style, much as his message was a sober one on the threat we all pose to the natural world: “we can exterminate whole ecosystems without even noticing”. Following a growing tradition of celebrity interviewers - David Rubenstein on everyone, Obama on Jack Ma - Attenborough was interviewed by Prince William who stated “work to save the planet is probably going to happen largely on our watch.” But ultimately Attenborough was optimistic, “we have the knowledge, we have the power, to live in harmony with that natural world”.