If you wonder what alternatives exist to the traditional diplomatic forms of summitry and multilateralism, consider Davos. This annual global opinion-leader event mixes business, government, non-profit with thought leaders sprinkled liberally throughout in a unique, break-even model:
For government officials, Davos has the same allure that it does for business: a series of quick-hit meetings with their counterparts. It gives executives the chance to jockey for position on the other side of the table with a government leader who could have an infrastructure project that needs financing, deals that can be worth millions if not billions of dollars. Or executives will spend weeks before arriving trying to get a 15-minute meeting with Mrs. Merkel or Ms. Lagarde in the hope of influencing the dialogue over the euro.
That may help explain why the World Economic Forum brought in $157 million in revenue last year from its members and strategic corporate partners.
In case you’re curious, it spent virtually all of it: $156 million. How was it spent? The organization employs 337 full-time employees and 369 “full-time equivalents” annually that it says cost a total of about $69 million. The conferences it convenes — besides the meeting in Davos, it organizes another big event in China and four other regional events — cost about $60 million more for space, elaborate signs and furniture, meals, event planning and security. (The security costs in Davos alone are estimated to be about $8 million, which are borne by the World Economic Forum and the Swiss government.) The organization says it spent another $26 million on office costs.
Its a tough ticket to get, however.