The World Economic Forum’s annual meeting has kicked off in Davos, Switzerland.

The village in the Swiss Alps has been transformed into a glitzy venue for the four-day confab ostensibly dedicated to making the world a better place.

The event is resuming in person after a two-year hiatus because of the Covid-19 pandemic, which also delayed this year’s meeting from its usual winter slot.

Thousands of corporate executives, government officials and other VIPs filled the conference venue, both to schmooze and listen to panel discussions on topics like sustainability, climate change and the Russia-Ukraine war.

Klaus Schwab, president and founder of the World Economic Forum, delivers his opening speech
Klaus Schwab, president and founder of the World Economic Forum, delivers his opening speech (Markus Schreiber/AP)

Attendees are also visiting nearby pavilions on Davos’ main drag set up by companies like Intel, Accenture and Facebook owner Meta.

One of the main attractions on opening day was a virtual keynote speech by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.

There was also a sizeable Ukrainian government delegation attending in person, making their case for more western support in the country’s fight against Russia.

Mr Zelensky called for “maximum” sanctions against Russia during his speech.

He said sanctions need to go further to stop Russia’s aggression, including an oil embargo, all of its banks blocked and cutting off trade with Russia completely.

Mr Zelensky said his country has slowed Russian advances and his people’s courage has stirred unseen unity of the democratic world.

He pushed for the complete withdrawal of foreign companies to prevent supporting its war.

The founder of the Forum said Russia’s war in Ukraine – as well as climate change and the global economy – are key issues at the gathering.

Klaus Schwab said in welcoming remarks that “this war is really a turning point of history and it will reshape our political and our economic landscape in the coming years”.

He also said the world is at “the tail-end of the most serious health catastrophe of the last hundred years — Covid-19″.

Mr Schwab said climate change and preserving nature is something to urgently address and that concerns about high inflation will affect how to look at the future of the global economy.

He pointed to fears of people plunged into poverty and dying of hunger.