The main theme of this year's World Economic Forum in Davos was captured in the event’s subheading, "Rebuilding Trust". The need to do that was a point of agreement among the attendees from the so-called global elite.
Conflicts and wars – whether cold or hot, from Ukraine to Gaza, from the Red Sea to Taiwan – have left their imprint on everyone, including the politicians, economists, and scientists gathered for the WEF’s annual convention in the Swiss Alps.
The worries caused by the rise in hostilities have touched even countries with the highest rankings for contentment, including Sweden and its neighbours in the happy Scandinavian countries.
And they ring out in the most impoverished corners of Africa, where globalisation took root only for established and rising world powers to chase their own economic and geopolitical interests.
This pursuit persists and is now heavily armed, including warships and fleets. It has created conflicting interests for a range of groups, which sometimes converge and at other times diverge, resulting in factionalisation within the countries concerned and disputes that run so deeply even individual households are split down the middle.
Trust tanks as conflict flourishes
As this relentless competition continues, unity is rare for a strategic commodity here or a giant corporation there. The whole process is defined only by a clash of interests in the policies that follow, coming amid internal and external economic crises and promoting the well-being of some at the expense of others.
It all adds up to a drop in trust in government. This was on stark display in Davos from the Edelman Trust Barometer for 2024, and the erosion is not fleeting.