Davos WEF
Davos WEF

In defense of Davos: Global leaders say it's not all about champagne


As the snow settles in Davos with the World Economic Forum (WEF) coming to an end, the co-chairs of the organization reflected on the progress of the week, at times defending the annual gathering from criticisms of elitism.

In response to a question about whether Davos was all about the world elite drinking champagne, Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy, documentary film maker at SOC Films and co-chair of WEF, said the meeting had brought together people from different backgrounds to solve problems.

"One of the greatest things about Davos is that everyone is approachable," Obaid-Chinoy said during a CNBC-hosted panel discussion.

"Davos is inclusive."

The other panelists also reflected on their week in the mountain ski resort in Switzerland with Franz Van Houten, CEO of Royal Philips, Brian Moynihan, CEO of Bank of America, and Helle Thorning-Schmidt, CEO of Save The Children International, all discussing moments where they felt positive about action coming from the WEF meeting.

Thorning-Schmidt said there was a "thoughtfulness" around Davos and that business leaders were not turning away from their obligations to be responsive and responsible – the theme of this year's WEF.

Moynihan said he had seen a lot of "time" committed to WEF's "Sustainable Development Goals" – a set of targets such as eradicating poverty and addressing gender inequality.

There had also been a real acknowledgement of public-private partnerships to address many issues, according to van Houten. But the Royal Philips boss also acknowledged that trust in business leaders was low, and that they would ultimately be judged by whether they fulfill their promises to society.

"There's clearly a lot to do … We had great discussions but the world needs to judge us on our actions," van Houten said.

Follow CNBC International on Twitter and Facebook.