Every year, leading figures from international politics, business and academia gather in Switzerland for the World Economic Forum. For the forum’s 81-year-old founder Klaus Schwab, it’s all about improving the world through dialogue. But are you going to challenge the status quo if the important meetings behind closed doors are attended exclusively by establishment figures?
Marcus Vetter was the first filmmaker to be granted behind-the-scenes access. The impressive procession of princes, presidents and other guests—predominantly male and all fluent in English—confirms many of our preconceptions about this private initiative. But there are also the critical voices like Jennifer Morgan, Executive Director of Greenpeace International, who observes that major companies use the WEF as a distracting sideshow to generate positive PR, while they continue business as usual. During an informal gathering, she goes up to her new arch enemy, President Jair Bolsonaro of Brazil.
And when 16-year-old climate change activist Greta Thunberg shows up, it starts looking like Schwab really is doing his best to drag the forum into a new era. Although the question remains whether this approach is benefitting the world, or still mainly the elites in the end.