Davos, Switzerland - Questions about the strength of the global economic recovery were high on the agenda Wednesday as business and political leaders gathered for the annual World Economic Forum.

About 2,500 chief executives, government leaders, economists and scientists started the four-day forum in the Swiss ski resort of Davos to discuss not only ways to leave the crisis years behind for good but also how to tackle lingering problems such as growing inequalities, youth unemployment and ageing societies.

Hours before the meeting started, Pope Francis called on participants to reduce poverty and take into consideration the needs of the world's most disadvantaged.

“I ask you to ensure that humanity is served by wealth and not ruled by it,” he said.

The global economy is set to gain steam this year with growth of 3.7 per cent expected, the International Monetary Fund said one day before the forum began while warning of low inflation in rich countries and asset bubbles in emerging markets.

Despite its name, the forum focuses on politics just as much as on economic questions.

The Syrian peace talks beginning Wednesday in Montreux as well as the Iranian nuclear issue were expected to take centre stage this week.

Iranian President Hassan Rowhani is expected to land in Davos later in the day, and he and Israeli Premier Benjamin Netanyahu are scheduled to give keynote speeches Thursday.

Several participants in the Montreux talks, including US Secretary of State John Kerry, have announced they will also come to Davos. - Sapa-dpa