Occupy Wall Street has become a punch line. Jokes referencing the 1% or the 99% seem practically ubiquitous, and yet those few protestors who continue their demonstrations despite the encroaching winter have lost practically all media attention. In the U.S., attention has shifted entirely to the upcoming presidential elections, and the Eurozone crisis has eclipsed the few protests in Europe.

Will the entire movement, and its demands for a more equitable income distribution, fade out of consciousness? If last week’s World Economic Forum is to be an indicator, maybe not.

The tone of this year’s World Economic Forum, which wrapped up yesterday in Davos, Switzerland, was exceptionally bleak. It is easy to see why: the impending collapse of the Eurozone, the presence of Occupy Wall Street protestors just outside the conference, and the continuing dominance of Asian countries on the world stage is clearly disheartening for the largely Western countries and companies in attendance.

However, on the positive side, a greater consciousness of the issues of equality pervaded the talks. Resolving the Eurozone crisis was characterized by its potential ability to spur growth and pull people out of unemployment, and speakers like Sheryl Sandberg of Facebook talked about nascent technology as a way to help those at the bottom of the pyramid gain access to higher achievements. The forum dedicated significant attention to the environment and invited many young Americans, including Chelsea Clinton, to lecture on issues like philanthropy and promoting agriculture in Africa.

Does this mean that the Occupy movement really has had a profound effect on global economics? Maybe not. After all, this is one of the first times that the global economic community has even acknowledged the Occupy movement; the conference even invited a representative of the Occupy movement to speak at the conference, though the group walked out.

Jasmine Whitbread, the CEO of Save the Children International, an interesting op-ed on Al Jazeera’s English site at the beginning of the conference, expressing her hopes for a new emphasis on inequality. Some of her hopes were realized: this year’s World Economic Forum raised vital issues that require much more attention in the coming years. Ideally, we would see an entirely separate conference devoted to rectifying the problems (income distribution, poor work conditions, and others) that the very companies and countries taking part in the Davos talks have created. But discussion can only go so far. Greater equality will be achieved not merely through words but through actions. The “PR” projects that top companies and countries support today only begin to scratch the surface of the reforms needed to deal with the highly distorted income distribution in the global economy.

This year’s World Economic Forum may not have had the influence or even the inclination to implement more equitable economic policies, but it did succeed in one key way: it established more enlightened discourse on the economic issues raised many months ago in the Occupy movement. It is almost impossible to imagine how a conference made up of juggernauts like Facebook or CitiGroup could possibly want – or know how -- to solve these problems, but the fact that they were willing to discuss these issues sets a positive tone for the rest of the year.

Attendants at Davos expressed concerns that this will truly be “Asia’s century”; maybe it will be equality’s too.