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World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland

3, February 2023

Dispatches from Davos

A month after she visited COP15 in Montreal, Alexandra Pimor was at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. WEF is an independent international organisation that aims to engage a diversity of leaders from business, political, academic and civil society fields into shaping global agendas. The theme for the WEF annual meeting in 2023 was ‘Cooperation in a Fragmented World’.

Ally is Director of Global Nature Governance at Earth Law Centre, as well as being one of the proxies for Nature on our board (with Brontie Ansell, Director of Lawyers for Nature).

At Davos, she took part in a panel discussion called on ‘Giving Nature a Seat at the Table’, hosted at the Hub Pavilion and at the Nature Forum. We caught up with Ally to find out what it was like to represent Nature at a conference of world leaders and billionaires.

Most of the news coverage of the WEF features what you’d expect: a lot of people in suits talking about money. So, what was Davos really like?

“It was amazing! When I was preparing to go, I thought ‘OK, there’s going to be lots of high-powered people, heads of corporations, heads of governance, big business.’ We have this idea that big decisions are being made at these forums, and that it’s all about money.”

But Ally found a very different side to the event.

"We were literally in the heart of Nature."

“Firstly, the geography and scenery are amazing. We were in the middle of the mountains, in the forest with the snow, the elements – it was beautiful.”

A little different from your average business conference venue, then?

“Yes! Energetically, we were literally in the heart of Nature.”

Which was useful, given the fact Ally was there to speak on Nature’s behalf. But what else was different about Davos?

“Besides the main Congress Centre and conference events, there are fringe events, organised by private organisations and businesses. We saw many pop-up shops along the main Promenade, such as Amazon, Manchester United, The Wall Street Journal, etc. These were temporary set-ups that were dismantled when the WEF week ended. As part of this fringe village, there were houses, such as the House of Wisdom, where delegates and representatives from indigenous communities held a circle at the Nature Forum, to share our experiences, dreams, visions, and connect with each other to explore how we could collaborate with each other.

“There was also the House of Balance, where you could meditate on conscious leadership and learn about equilibrium. In those places, you gain a balanced view. We were thinking with our minds, but also thinking and feeling with our bodies and our spirits.”

"People were saying 'Where do we go from here? We want to make Nature a director!'"

So, how did the panel go?

“People were talking about the idea of making Nature boss, giving it a voice in the decision-making process, and I was able to say ‘it is actually happening!’ – and tell them all about how Nature was made a director of Faith In Nature. The venue was full and the reaction from the audience has been astonishing. I had people from corporations, foundations and universities coming up to me at the end of the session saying ‘Where do we go from here? We want to make Nature a director!’. And since I returned from Davos, I’ve been engaged in meetings with so many people who really want to make it happen for their organisations.”

Ally with Grant Wilson from Earth Law Centre

Ally with Grant Wilson from Earth Law Centre

Ally was at the WEF to inspire others (and it sounds like she really did), but did anyone there inspire her?

“The passion and dedication of the Earth Law Centre team was brilliant. They’re based in the USA, so it was great to be able to come together in person. The other person who had a big impact on me was Khenpo Samdup Rinpoche, the Tibetan Spiritual director of several Buddhist centres. On the first morning, he led us on a meditation that was a sort of opening ceremony on what it meant to be at Davos. This is exactly the kind of balance we need when we’re taking part in deep conversations and making decisions on behalf of the entire planet. We can’t do these things with a purely rational and mechanistic mind. If we’re thinking about Nature, we have to embrace Nature.”

It's such a departure from the typical boardroom mentality, but it makes complete sense in the context of Nature on the Board.

“Exactly. It’s a different way of being. It leads to a completely different way of making decisions and a completely different way of behaving.”

Antonio Guterres, Secretary General of the UN, gave a speech at the WEF in which he said the world is in ‘a sorry state’. It’s refreshing, then, to hear that Ally came away feeling so positive. Did her experience fill her with hope?

“Not hope, but faith (no pun intended!). I have absolute confidence that as humans, we want what is best for us – and that means of all of us, as a whole.”

During the panel discussion, Ally reminded the audience that Nature isn’t a separate entity to human beings; we are a part and manifestation of it. That’s the ‘whole’ she’s talking about.

Apart from faith in humanity, what was Ally’s key takeaway from Davos?

“When you’re not a part of it, you think everything is happening at the top. But at both Davos and COP15, I saw that the people who we don’t see in the media are often the ones doing the legwork – and the ones leading the movement for change at root level.”

You can watch the recording of the panel discussion Ally took part in here.

Ally (second left) in the panel discussion 'Giving Nature a Seat at the Table'.

Ally (second left) in the panel discussion 'Giving Nature a Seat at the Table'.