The most popular participant at this year's World Economic Forum is not even making the trip to the Swiss Alps.

Volodymyr Zelenskyj will be connected from Kyiv this Monday for his speech to the participants in Davos and to spectators around the world.

There is no way that the President of Ukraine, who has held his position in his hard-fought home country since the beginning of the war, could change course for a trip to the picturesque Swiss mountains of all things.

Still, his messages to the world will draw attention.

Because Russia's war of aggression and its consequences are pushing with all their might onto the agenda of the 52nd World Economic Forum, which is being held for the first time in May and not in January due to the pandemic.

Sven Astheimer

Responsible editor for corporate reporting.

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Ukraine will be there with a large delegation of politicians and business representatives, including several ministers, including the popular Deputy Prime Minister and Digital Minister Mykhailo Fyodorov.

The Klitschko brothers will also be there.

On the other hand, there is no Russian delegation this time.

The organizers had already explicitly uninvited the aggressor in February.

This is remarkable for an organization whose founder, Klaus Schwab, has always taken the view that dialogue with all relevant parties must be maintained, and who himself regularly had personal exchanges with Putin.

Forum director Alois Zwingli spoke of quick decision-making.

"It was immediately clear to us: we are in solidarity with Ukraine," he told the Swiss newspaper Blick.

A diplomatic peace initiative is therefore not to be expected due to the absence of the Russians.

But according to the former Holcim manager Zwingli, the humanitarian consequences of this war should be discussed and the question of what economic reconstruction can look like after the end of the hostilities.

A space for debate

The war in the Ukraine is inevitably pushing other, equally important issues into the background.

Nevertheless, the World Economic Forum is trying to focus on half a dozen urgent challenges at the events: The change in traditional industries towards more sustainability in production is closely linked to the fight against the climate crisis.

The corona pandemic has almost receded into the background at the moment, but its consequences are enormous for both the healthcare sector and the global economy.

Given the galloping inflation rates in many countries, the question of where future growth impetus is to come from seems more urgent than ever.

The speech by ECB President Christine Lagarde is expected to be eagerly awaited, and not only because of the interest rate policy.

Finally, the topic of distributive justice is not only of great importance in many developing countries.

The development aid organization Oxfam criticized in advance that many super-rich had particularly benefited from the Corona crisis, for example through stock transactions.

Of the almost 2,670 billionaires in the world, 573 have been added since the beginning of the pandemic, it said in advance.

In contrast, a quarter billion people are at risk of slipping into extreme poverty.

Federal Economics Minister Robert Habeck (Greens) addressed the globalization critics, for whom the meeting in the Alps is traditionally a red rag, in a statement before his departure for Davos.

Despite all justified criticism, the World Economic Forum also offers space for controversial and critical debates on these issues.

Habeck will take part in a forum on energy supply and security.

For Federal Chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD), his debut in Davos will also be his first public appearance in front of an international audience.

EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg are also traveling to Switzerland.

On the other hand, US President Joe Biden, who will visit Japan and South Korea on a trip to Asia, will be absent.

Dax managers such as Herbert Diess (Volkswagen), Frank Appel (Deutsche Post) and Christian Klein (SAP) are expected from the German economy.

On the other hand, familiar faces from the ranks of climate activists are missing.

Above all, the Swede Greta Thunberg, whose popularity once received a big boost in Davos.

Overall, the activities announced by the activists seem comparatively modest.

In the run-up, the explanation could be heard from their ranks that this had to do with the date in May: many young people are currently taking their final exams.

Then world politics will have to wait.