The economic elite is meeting up in Davos once more and draws the world’s attention to this small town in the Swiss Alps. About 3,000 political, economic, and societal representatives will attend the 50th meeting of the World Economic Forum to discuss global key issues. Donald Trump and Greta Thunberg will be leading the prominent array and put security management to the test.
THE BIGGER PICTURE
“Stakeholders for a Cohesive and Sustainable World” is this year’s chosen theme of the meeting. Tense global relationships and a guest list filled with VIPs, including heads of state, successful Silicon Valley visionaries and the most influential business managers worldwide demand top notch security measures as well as meticulous planning. As a full-service security provider, operating internationally, and experts in object and personal protection, we naturally focus on the existing security precautions about which we would like to give you an overview below.
Alongside private security providers, police and military teams will be in operation 24/7. This includes police staff of all Swiss cantons and up to 5,000 service members which have been supporting the police in executing security concepts for two decades now. American authorities and the Secret Service are working hand in hand with local decision-makers from the very start of the preparations. The head of WEF security, Walter Schlegel, answers security questions at a Jan 20 press conference, mentioning an increased threat of terrorism which he deems ever-present since the terrorist attacks in Paris in 2015. However, there have been no concise threats towards Switzerland and the World Economic Forum to date. Demonstrations and protests by climate activists and opponents of the World Economic Forum are a growing source of high risk exposure concerns and will be supervised by trained personnel and task forces alike.
Tourists as well as residents will be subjected to restrictions, caused by the tight network of security precautions, which will extend over the period of the annual meeting itself. The congress area has been subjected to limited access and security checks in advance. During the World Economic Forum, the township of Davos is split into several security zones. Hotels, the congress hall itself as well as both airports can only be accessed with special permits, badges and a successful pass through security checkpoints.
Drones are prohibited from the restricted airspace on all days. An airfield police agreement between the two neighboring states Switzerland and Austria allows for the air forces of both countries to identify suspicious civil aircraft, including unmanned ones, at all times and take further actions if deemed necessary. Starting at the military air base of Payerne, the armed forces are assisting with airfield restrictions and accompanying VIP transports from Dübendorf airport to Davos. For this sole purpose, a Schengen border with additional checkpoints has been installed.
Explosive detection dogs are supporting the police forces with vehicle inspections, snipers are securing the congress area and bodyguards are taking care of VIP guests – Davos ensures strict plans of action when it comes to security. Over 100 internationally protected persons, which will be inside the country during the World Economic Forum, necessary resources, precise organization, and impeccable logistics are crucial elements in order to be able to guarantee an incident-free congress. The intensity of each measure is aligned with the security need which has been assessed for each individual guest in advance.
According to Walter Schlegel, the following four congress items take on particular relevance:
- Visit of the President of the United States of America
- Anti-WEF demonstration
- March of the climate activists
- House of Switzerland
Even if extensive security precautions subject visitors and guests to certain restrictions, there is a wider acceptance of them. Residents of Davos acknowledge the media’s attention during the WEF as a great advertising campaign for their township to which a monetary worth of tens of millions is attributed to. On the opposite end of the scale, security costs amount to approximately 8.3 million euros. The president of the municipality, Tarzisius Caviezel would like to save costs somewhere else. According to the German News Agency DPA, he mentioned switching to emission-free electronic vehicles during the World Economic Forum as a goal he would like to see achieved by 2025, so that the increase in environmental impact over the period of the congress can be counter-balanced. In times of omnipresent talks about climate change, this constitutes a positive and reasonable goal. Looking at SUV convoys of governmental and business leaders, he has set himself an ambitious long-term objective.
Picture sourced: Rumir/shutterstock.com