Davos world forum 'matters more than ever'

There's a meeting of minds in a Swiss ski resort that some dismiss as a gathering of elites.

After pandemic interruptions, the 2023 World Economic Forum meeting in Davos this week brings together leaders from politics, business, central banks, the arts, universities and global charities.

Former foreign minister Julie Bishop will head up an Australian National University contingent as chancellor, alongside Nobel Prize winner Professor Brian Schmidt and technology anthropologist Professor Genevieve Bell.

A record 2700 delegates will confront issues that reach across borders and require the movement of people, goods and data - and a fairer distribution of wealth.

A "living wage", which covers basic needs and allows some extra to be put aside for big purchases or emergencies, is up for discussion.

Inclusion for workers with disability and from diverse cultural backgrounds is also an important goal with companies already competing for scarce talent.

Australian business leaders on the main stage include billionaire Andrew Forrest, who is attending with Fortescue Future Industries CEO Mark Hutchinson and the group's global ambassador Elizabeth Gaines.

Fortescue executives and BHP's CEO Mike Henry have been invited as influential leaders in emissions-laden mining, where new technology is needed for long-distance trucking and shipping of Australia's top exports.

"As we enter 2023, the world is facing multiple crises in energy, climate, inflation and starvation," a Fortescue spokesperson told AAP.

"The illegal war in Ukraine continues to rage and has deeply impacted the global energy outlook and markets."

Fortescue has committed $US6.2 billion to "real zero" emissions across iron ore operations by 2030, and on Monday welcomed the arrival of Australia's first prototype battery system designed for a zero-emission mining haul truck.

The Australian government will be represented at the forum by Assistant Minister for Trade Tim Ayres.

Ms Bishop is speaking at a number of Davos events, including on a panel about Japan.

The ANU is co-hosting an "Australia in Davos" cocktail reception on Wednesday evening at the Hotel Seehof.

For the first time, the forum will build a virtual Global Collaboration Village to open up the swanky event to the less well-heeled.

Forum founder Klaus Schwab said the metaverse will influence the way people, governments, companies and society at large think, work, interact and communicate about world issues.

The energy shock, inflation and geopolitics are on the forum agenda, along with workforce inclusion, sustainability and preventing the next pandemic.

Ex-Liberal senator Cory Bernardi said Davos organisers "want to add more crony to capitalism while allowing you to eat bugs and own nothing".

However, more than 50 years after the forum's first annual meeting, some believe this year's talks could be pivotal.

Global consultants McKinsey argue Davos "matters more than ever" as pursuing business as usual is proving inadequate in every sector.

To reach net-zero emissions, the world must invest $US3.5 trillion more each year, according to McKinsey.

Climate activists are also in Davos, Switzerland, to protest against the role of fossil fuel firms.

Reserve Bank of Australia officials will not be attending the forum.