Heard in Davos 2012: Dispatches from the Conference

Davos 'Occupy' Dwellings Use What's at Hand: Snow


First it was New York City, then London, Paris, Frankfurt. Now the Occupy movement has reached the heights of Davos.

Hadley Gamble | CNBC

As the top 1 percent gather for the World Economic Forum, the Swiss activists from the Socialist Youth Group of Switzerland have set up their igloos—yes, igloos—in the center of the Alpine City.

Compared with other movements during the fall, the Occupy Davos camp is surprisingly small—though maybe not so surprising when you factor in temperatures plummeting to as low as 5 degrees Fahrenheit at night. One activist told CNBC that up to 20 people spent the night on Tuesday, but only the media frenzy on Monday really populated the parking area where the young protesters have camped for one full week. On Tuesday afternoon, only a handful of diehard protesters braved the cold to talk to nosy reporters.

Occupy Davos Movement

They happily pointed to the banners on the igloos that declared the protesters’ discontent: “Don’t let them decide for you.” One activist added: “The World Economic Forum has no democratic legitimization. We want to hold the future in our own hands!”

Another protestor chimed in: “The people who have caused the financial crisis are in the conference hall, pretending to find solutions. But how can they find solutions without involving the people that are affected and encourage a dialogue?”

While the organizers of the prestigious WEF have acknowledged the Occupy Davos movement, they have yet to come down to the igloo camp to engage in discussion, says another protestor.

Over the past months, many on CNBC and elsewhere have been asking the question: What are they actually protesting? Having spoken to both protesters and business leaders participating in WEF, it becomes clear that the issues they’re contemplating are the same: the financial crisis, unemployment and steering the economy on a sustainable path.

The only difference is their approach, and of course the venue. While business leaders pay a hefty 20,000 Swiss francs ($21,450) for the invitation-only entry pass, the entry into the chilly igloo comes at no cost.