From Great Reset to Rebuilding Trust: Embattled WEF Needs New Models

Jacob Devaney
7 min readJan 14, 2024

The theme of this year’s World Economic Forum in Davos, Rebuilding Trust is a tacit acknowledgement that the organization is struggling with a tarnished image. Yet the annual gathering has also grown into a hopeful international hub of change-makers, nonprofits, activists, fund managers, and innovators that far exceeds the small elite group at the center of the forum. At partner or independent events, grass-roots gatherings and even coffee shops the town is buzzing with vibrant conversations where new collaborations, friendships, and paradigms are emerging.

“The World Economic Forum is the International Organization for Public-Private Cooperation. The Forum engages the foremost political, business, cultural and other leaders of society to shape global, regional and industry agendas.”
-Mission Statement, World Economic Forum

Optics vs. Reality: The image of billionaires, corporate CEO’s, and politicians flying private jets to lavish resorts in the Swiss Alps to shape global policy in an undemocratic manner has not projected the best optics for the organization. Though the stated mission of the organization is about public-private cooperation, the “public” part of the equation has been relatively absent from the global agenda-crafting summit.

Coming Together to Create a Better Future

Politicians are no longer viewed as public servants by the majority of citizens because they are seen as representatives of corporate interests. Whereas many of the billionaires present gained their wealth through the broken political system that has been captured by these same corporate interests. However, this has not stopped people who are passionate about creating a better world from traveling across the globe to participate. Instead, this contrasting backdrop has provided a great catalyst for some emergent and exciting grass-roots initiatives.

“I think Davos is totally irrelevant,” said Rana Foroohar, a Financial Times columnist, whose book “Homecoming” argues that a new shift toward localization is displacing the forces of globalization that have been dominant over the past half century. -Julia Horowitz, Davos Draws Record Crowds, but its Relevance is Fading

Better Models Sprout from the Grass Roots: All of western history has been steeped in top-down power structures. From kings and queens to colonial conquests to global empire this model has come with its share of positive and negative results for people and planet. As the quote from Julia Horowitz recognizes above, we are shifting from global to local, centralized to decentralized power structures.

This paradigm shift is timely because we will need more solutions and collective action than a mere handful of elites can conjure. Yet this is not a moment for overturning the old to usher in the new. Instead this is a time for unprecedented cooperation between all sectors of science and business from all nations of people regardless of their class or wealth status. This blending of ideas that honors our history and previous power structures while embracing a transition to new models is not so much a revolution but an evolution — and we are witnessing it unfold in real time.

Less than 20% of the attendees at Davos are card-holding “elite” delegates participating in the WEF.

Open-Sourcing the Evolution: In the same manner that natural ecosystems support life without top-down power dynamics, human social organization is beginning to resemble this process. Transparent, inclusive, democratic, distributed networks are replacing siloed edicts drafted by the elite behind closed-doors.

This paradigm shift has been enabled enormously by emerging technologies like social media, AI, and independent publishing. The world is waking up. People everywhere are wanting to become part of positive change for our planet and right now we are being flooded with inspired, actionable solutions. In order to remove bottlenecks we need open systems that allow for innovators to receive the resources, support, and connections to produce measurable impact.

Many Possibilities on the Horizon

Pieces Falling Into Place: For those of us who are used to traditional top-down structures, let’s take a moment and consider our current global situation as a puzzle. If you have ever worked on a puzzle with family or friends, you start out with the pieces scattered all over the table. There is no linear way for the process to unfold, nobody makes a plan or calls out the orders. Everyone begins flipping the pieces over and finding places where they fit. Clusters form and then eventually connect. In this manner all participants know the goal and the group works together to complete the puzzle.

“The Impact Portfolio is making it easy for philanthropists to know their resources will now be able to function in optimal efficiency with the best humanity has available.” -Tammy Scarlet, Executive Director of UNIFY, Founder of the Impact Portfolio

Impact Portfolio: One such initiative that was birthed at the 2023 Davos convergence is the Impact Portfolio. Founder, Tammy Scarlett is the Executive Director of the nonprofit organization, UNIFY. The organization grew itself as a grass-roots movement that has amassed an organic social media following of almost 2.5 million people globally.

Through their growing community they have created an inclusive model that allows individuals to organize locally through an international network. Since 2012 UNIFY has hosted online campaigns, workshops, environmental initiatives, and live-streams in conjunction with World Water Day, Earth Day, International Day of Peace, Women’s Day, and many others. This spirit of global collaboration via social platforms combined with state-of-the art media and educational programs is both exemplary and a perfect backdrop for Mrs. Scarlett’s current enterprize.

Within the Impact Portfolio advisors, partners, member organizations, creators, and fund managers gather with a common goal to examine data, explore solutions, and collaborate on creating positive impact. Like a puzzle this is not a linear process, it is instead a container where pieces are gathered, streamlined, and optimized in a similar way to how a startup incubator/accelerator works.

Four ways that the Impact Portfolio goes beyond incubator/accelerator to ensure success globally.

Measuring Impact: In order for projects to be accepted within the Impact Portfolio, there is a rigorous vetting process. Fund managers need to know that their support will have actionable results. This also means that the projects must undergo streamlining for efficiency while also having a professional media/outreach strategy.

This enables scaling from local to global. Successful projects become models for future initiatives. Impact Portfolio works to match experts in each of the needed areas with innovators and the resources necessary for success. This also helps to break down silos and encourage collaboration across various groups.

Vetting, Metrics, and Data leaders whose contributions and partnerships comprise the Impact Portfolio

In my work I consistently see the power of the transformational experience to heal the world. The Impact Portfolio calls its member organizations and companies to the type of presence and practice in collaboration that leads to transformation. That, coupled with their decision to leverage AI and trust-based data sharing for elevated decision-making, makes the Impact Portfolio positioned to catalyze essential changes in a trajectory that humanity needs in the next 2 to 5 years.
-Lyle Maxson, Co-Founder & CSO of GeniusX & Impact Portfolio Advisor

Ahura AI Responsible Innovation Awards, Davos 2024: This year as Mrs. Scarlett returns to Davos the Impact Portfolio has been nominated for this prestigious award. Ahura AI collaborates with Accenture and the United Nations to give out the Inaugural Award for Excellence. It acknowledges technological innovation that demonstrates best practices, including: ethics, responsibility, regeneration, existential risk, efficiency, quality, sustainable stewardship, and more.

The Impact Portfolio is exemplary of this emerging paradigm as it incorporates organizational systems while allowing a distributed network of individuals to put the pieces together for success. Join the conversation and learn more about the Impact Portfolio on their website.

“Many global leaders have come to the realization that we collectively have the power, resources and vision to solve the world’s most difficult problems.” -Ed Burke, Former Global Managing Partner ACCENTURE & Impact Portfolio Advisor

Painting by Autumn Skye representing many hands working together to weave a better future on Planet Earth

Restoring Trust: Though the spotlight on Davos is the World Economic Forum some of the real excitement is at various satellite events, independent gatherings and even random encounters at a local coffee shop. The Forum can do a lot to restore trust and redefine their image by putting a spotlight on the various grass roots groups and initiatives that have sprouted up around their event over the years. This would help mend a perceived divide and show a spirit of true collaboration between all interested parties.

Evolutionary change can be turbulent and we are now living in a time of accelerated transition from one paradigm into another. The tension is palpable as protestors block roads into Davos and elite institutions are being heavily criticized. Yet we must all return to an acknowledgment of our humanity and breathe into that place of compassion within us. This is a time to come together despite our differences, despite our tumultuous history and forge a new way forward together.



Jacob Devaney

Cultural-Creative, Media-Maker, Dreamer, Musician. Technology, Art, Science, Health, Spirituality, Culture, Community, Environment. UNIFY Co-Founder