The World Economic Forum's (WEF's) five-day annual meeting began on Wednesday with top business and political leaders from across the world in attendance, amid a gloomy global economic scenario.
Leaders were confronted with the fear that the Western model of capitalism has failed and is about to be shoved aside by emerging powers.
"I think we have three to four years in the West to improve the economic model that we have, and if we don't do that soon I think we've lost the game," warned David Rubenstein, managing director, Carlyle investment fund.Sharan Burrow, general secretary, International Trade Union Confederation, urged corporations and governments to work with workers to develop a new economic model.
On the same panel, Professor Raghuram Rajan of University of Chicago, warned the 20th century strength of the western economy had already failed to live up to its promises to rich world workers. "Governments made a ton of promises in the 1960s, when growth was very high. We had the welfare state across the industrial world.
And then growth started falling off in the 70s, in the 80s."
For Ben Verwaayen, chief executive of French telecom giant Alcatel-Lucent, the citizens and consumers of the West are in for a rude awakening. "The consumer goes to the grocery shop and buys globalisation and then he leaves the shop with his two bags full of globalisation and turns to the government and says: 'Protect me from the results of this'."
Some 40 heads of government will join the titans of commerce and industry in Davos to discuss everything from the eurozone crisis to Iran's nuclear programme as well as trends in science and the arts.