The protesters, who have dubbed themselves the “patriotic millionaires”, have called for a rise in taxes on the wealthy to tackle the “cost of living scandal playing out in multiple nations around the world”.
The movement began in the United States and has since spawned a British offshoot.
The world’s political and business elite gathered for the first day of the conference on Sunday in the Swiss mountain summit following two years of disruption due to the Covid pandemic, with the war in Ukraine set to dominate the agenda.
After a virtual forum held in 2021, this year’s in-person event will focus on the theme “History at a Turning Point”. Nato secretary-general Jens Stoltenberg, EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz are among the major political leaders due to attend.
Phil White, a former business consultant and member of Patriotic Millionaires UK, told The Guardian ahead of the event: “While the rest of the world is collapsing under the weight of an economic crisis, billionaires and world leaders meet in this private compound to discuss turning points in history.
“It’s outrageous that our political leaders listen to those who have the most, know the least about the economic impact of this crisis, and many of whom pay infamously little in taxes.
“The only credible outcome from this conference is to tax the richest and tax us now. Tax the delegates attending Davos 2022.”
His warning comes amid soaring energy prices in Europe prompted by the war in Ukraine, as well as rising inflation.
Djaffar Shalchi, a Danish engineer, told the newspaper that it was difficult to win the public’s trust by holding events where “the world’s rich and powerful meet behind layers of security”.
“The most significant thing Davos participants could do to actually win people’s trust is to acknowledge that the wealth and privilege they represent and protect, is incompatible with a world where everyone can live full and prosperous lives,” he added.
The WEF’s founder Klaus Schwab has claimed that this year’s event will be the “most timely and consequential” meeting since the forum more than 50 years ago.
Russia has been excluded from the event following its invasion of Ukraine on February 24.
WEF president Borge Brende said the move was the “right decision”, adding: “We do hope, though, that Russia will follow a different path ... in the years to come to start to stick to the UN charter and to their international obligations.”
Elsewhere, police clashed with protesters from the anti-capitalist “Smash WEF” group in Zurich on Saturday ahead of the conference.
Police used pepper spray and rubberised pellets to break up the march through the downtown district.