World Economic Forum

World Economic Forum
World Economic Forum logo.svg
World Economic Forum headquarters (cropped).jpg
Headquarters in Cologny, Switzerland.
FormationJanuary 1971; 47 years ago (1971-01) (as European Management Forum)
FounderKlaus Schwab
TypeNonprofit organization
Legal statusFoundation
PurposeEconomic[vague]
HeadquartersCologny, Switzerland
Region served
Worldwide
Official language
English
Klaus Schwab
Websitewww.weforum.org
Formerly called
European Management Forum

The World Economic Forum (WEF) is a Swiss nonprofit foundation, based in Cologny, Geneva, Switzerland. Recognised in 2015 by the Swiss authorities as an "other international body" under Switzerland's Host State Act 2007 (HSA, SR 192.12),[1] its mission is cited as "committed to improving the state of the world by engaging business, political, academic, and other leaders of society to shape global, regional, and industry agendas".

The forum is best known for its annual meeting at the end of January in Davos, a mountain resort in Graubünden, in the eastern Alps region of Switzerland. The meeting brings together some 2,500 top business leaders, international political leaders, economists, celebrities and journalists for up to four days to discuss the most pressing issues facing the world. Often this location alone is used to identify meetings, participation, and participants, with such phrases as "a Davos panel" and "Davos man" being used.[2]

The organization also convenes some six to eight regional meetings each year in locations across Africa, East Asia, and Latin America, and holds two further annual meetings in China, India and the United Arab Emirates. Beside meetings, the foundation produces a series of research reports and engages its members in sector-specific initiatives.[3]

History

Professor Klaus Schwab opens the inaugural European Management Forum in Davos in 1971.
F. W. de Klerk and Nelson Mandela shake hands at the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum held in Davos in January 1992
Naoto Kan, then Japanese prime minister gives a special message at the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting 2011
Klaus Schwab, founder and executive chairman, World Economic Forum
Carlos Ghosn, the chairman and CEO of Renault, Nissan, Renault-Nissan Alliance and the Chairman of AvtoVAZ

The forum was founded in 1971 by Klaus Schwab, a German-born business professor at the University of Geneva.[4] First named the "European Management Forum", it changed its name to the World Economic Forum in 1987 and sought to broaden its vision to include providing a platform for resolving international conflicts.

In the summer of 1971, Schwab invited 444 executives from Western European firms to the first European Management Symposium held in the Davos Congress Centre under the patronage of the European Commission and European industrial associations, where Schwab sought to introduce European firms to American management practices. He then founded the WEF as a nonprofit organization based in Geneva and drew European business leaders to Davos for the annual meetings each January.[5]

Schwab developed the "stakeholder" management approach, which attributed corporate success to managers actively taking account of all interests: not merely shareholders, clients, and customers, but also employees and the communities within which the firm is situated, including governments.[6] Events in 1973, including the collapse of the Bretton Woods fixed-exchange rate mechanism and the Arab–Israeli War, saw the annual meeting expand its focus from management to economic and social issues, and, for the first time, political leaders were invited to the annual meeting in January 1974.[7]

Political leaders soon began to use the annual meeting as a neutral platform. The Davos Declaration was signed in 1988 by Greece and Turkey, helping them turn back from the brink of war. In 1992, South African President F. W. de Klerk met with Nelson Mandela and Chief Mangosuthu Buthelezi at the annual meeting, their first joint appearance outside South Africa. At the 1994 annual meeting, Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon Peres and PLO chairman Yasser Arafat reached a draft agreement on Gaza and Jericho.[8]

In late 2015, the invitation was extended to include a North Korean delegation for the 2016 forum, "in view of positive signs coming out of the country," the WEF organizers noted. North Korea has not been attending the WEF since 1998. The invitation was accepted but after the January 2016 North Korean nuclear test on 6 January, the invitation was revoked, and the country's delegation was made subject to "existing and possible forthcoming sanctions."[9] Despite protests by North Korea calling the decision by the WEF managing board a "sudden and irresponsible" move, the WEF committee maintained the exclusion because "under these circumstances there would be no opportunity for international dialogue."[10]

In 2017, the World Economic Forum in Davos attracted considerable attention when for the first time, a head of state from the People's Republic of China was present at the alpine resort. With the backdrop of Brexit, an incoming protectionist US administration and significant pressures on free trade zones and trade agreements, President Xi Jinping defended the global economic scheme, and portrayed China as a responsible nation and a leader for environmental causes. He sharply rebuked the current populist movements that would introduce tariffs and hinder global commerce, warning that such protectionism could foster isolation and reduced economic opportunity.[11]

In 2018, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi gave the plenary speech becoming the first head of state from India to deliver the inaugural keynote for the annual meet at Davos. Modi highlighted climate change, terrorism and protectionism as the three major global challenges, and expressed confidence that they can be tackled with collective effort.[12]

Other Languages
беларуская (тарашкевіца)‎: Сусьветны эканамічны форум
Bahasa Indonesia: Forum Ekonomi Dunia
Bahasa Melayu: Forum Ekonomi Dunia
Simple English: World Economic Forum
srpskohrvatski / српскохрватски: Svjetski ekonomski forum
Lingua Franca Nova: Foro Economial Mundial