The format, moved online due to the pandemic, cannot replace in-person encounters, the head of the board of directors of the Boston Consulting Group (BCG), Hans-Paul Buerkner, told dpa.
"Personal meetings and informal discussions offer a lot of added value for finding consensus and problem solving," he said, adding that WEF's success always lay in connections made on the sidelines of official events.
From Monday, leading politicians, business leaders, scientists and civil society representatives will meet online to discuss current global challenges.
An in-person WEF meeting is planned for the end of May in Singapore.
Speakers include Chancellor Angela Merkel, Chinese President Xi Jinping and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The agenda ist to focus on health crises, climate change and digital transformation.
The online format does have some perks, Buerkner said, not least the environmental savings of not needing to transport, accommodate and feed 3,000 participants, plus thousands of staff and journalists.
This time, the discussions and lectures can also be accessed by a wider audience, he added.
"The great challenges of the world do not disappear even in times of a pandemic," said Buerkner.
"It is more important than ever to use an event like this to meet the challenges of our time with courage and optimism and to provide impetus," he added. - dpa