Thursday, 7 January, 2021

The annual Davos meeting will take place in January 2021, and although this will be an appropriately COVID-19 era event with no in-person events planned until May, the World Economic Forum (WEF) theme this year is ‘The Great Reset’.  As an alternative to the traditional meeting, a series of ‘Davos Dialogues’ will feature global leaders sharing their views on how to shape the world economy for a stable, post-COVID-19 era. 

Running alongside this event, there is a Global Protest to Fight Inequality taking place with the aim of diverting attention away from the WEF and looking to more radical and effective ways of shaping the economy so that it benefits all, and not simply the few with the power to control it. Movements will include hijacking the ‘Davos 2021’ hashtag with online activism, holding online events to create an educational and impactful space for grassroots solutions to come to the fore and emphasising the damage that billionaires are having on both an environmental and societal scale.

The WEF itself has acknowledged the effects that the pandemic has had on growing economic inequality and the unprecedented burden that it has put on goals of ending world poverty and reducing inequalities across the world. COVID-19 not only exacerbated the widening gap between the richest and poorest in society, but has reversed progress on poverty reduction. As a result of the pandemic, almost 37 million more people have been pushed into extreme poverty. In contrast, the wealth of billionaires has soared during the pandemic to £7.8 trillion, with just 10 billionaires increasing their wealth by £296 billion during 2020. This extreme level of inequality is damaging for people and planet. 

The Equality Trust is taking part in the Global Protest and is holding an online event on January 30th which has been planned and organised by young activists who are working to tackle inequalities in progressive and radical ways. We will hear from a variety of activists and campaigners under the umbrella of fighting inequality - both upcoming and established - through interactive discussions focused on building capacity and taking action. From tackling gender inequality to the profound aim of reducing inequalities in health, something that has severely worsened throughout the pandemic, young activists particularly will share their experiences of fighting disparities through social media and grassroots campaigns. 

Across the world there are pronounced differences in how the pandemic has been managed and the consequences this has had on analysing health care inequalities and attitudes towards care. For the more successful countries there has been a considerable attitude regarding fairer economic repair and listening to grassroots organisations when planning their post-COVID-19 economy. The lingering pandemic is going to have impacts on the economy for years to come, and so it is vital that a radical shift in fighting inequality is taken sooner rather than later. The men, and noticeably few women, who are meeting at Davos in 2021 are not the voices of the people, but the billionaires and powerful. In order to create real change and inspire a new generation of activists, the focus should be on young and progressive voices that can have a true and equal influence on the state of the economy after COVID-19. 

Tomi Haffety

Editor-In-Chief, The Bloomsbury Geographer // The Equality Trust Young Activist