“Europe has never had a single or unified voice in a world affairs: a common foreign policy. It has often appeared to be rudderless and unable to make quick decisions when faced with economic crises, presenting instead an image of division and hopelessness“, stated Klaus Schwab, the founder of the World Economic Forum. And he was right. The world changed, and so did the problems and challenges that we are facing every new day. The global environment is seen as unpredictable and difficult to navigate, massive disintegration in the institutional framework takes place, geo-economic competition rises, bringing new factors such as regionalism in the arena. And let’s not forget the disruptive innovations, artificial intelligence and technological change — all these factors certainly changed the way we are experiencing our every day world, not to mention the globe’s state. Klaus knew that in order to solve problems, new ways must be found, alongside co-operation and understanding. That is the main purpose of the World Economic Forum, which will be held for the 48th time in the start of the 2018.
We may sound skeptical, but something needed to be done in order to bring balance. And so, the first World Economic Forum committed to improve the state of the world in 1971. Headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland, and held in Davos, it took over a really tough, but honorable mission to gather political, business and other society leaders to shape global, regional and industry agendas and problems. To demonstrate entrepreneurship and new ideas that would actually work and be effective is a complex task, especially when the highest standards must be maintained. However, World Economic Forum and its holders find a way to do that just fine — bringing balance to different kinds of organizations around the globe,— both public and private sectors, as well as international and academic institutions is what they are working on.
Briefly introducing World Economic Forum, its founder is Klaus Schwab, and at the beginning it was called the European Management Forum. As a non-profit organization, it gathered business leaders for an annual meeting each January. At first EMF focused on the good US management practices and wanted to find ways to adjust them to European firms in order to compete with them. But the overall vision of the founder was deeper: political events influenced the process, and from 1973 the Forum expanded its focus from management to economic and social issues. The year later, political leaders were invited to join the Forum for the first time. It is important to note that this Forum was the first non-governmental institution ever that initiated a partnership with China’s economic development commissions, spurring economic reform policies in China. In 1987, the Forum changed its name to “World Economic Forum“ and established a platform for dialogue between countries. In 2015 it was formally recognized as an international organization. Officially, the next long-term aim of the Forum is to become a platform where public and private cooperation could take place.
Defining Forum’s strategy is quite easy, as it is simple and effective: bringing together the most relevant leaders from all sectors of global society, and identify the best ways to address the world’s most significant challenges. For more than 50 years and after thousands of projects and collaborations, not to mention historic shifts and globalization, Forum found its way to work and be efficient via 3 key areas of impact. The first one is to build awareness and co-operation: striving for positive change around the globe, Forum creates impact by gathering leaders from business, government, international organizations, academia, civil society and youth work. This goal is pursued through different areas, such as climate action acceleration, social entrepreneurship scaling, water gap closing, etc. The second area of impact is to shape the mindsets and agendas, and this basically means that Forum seeks to influence government priorities, business strategies and public opinion through its flagship reports, policy frameworks and strategies. Last but not least key role of the Forum is to drive collective action. No secret that Forum’s projects and collaborations affected millions of people, and we are talking about lives saving through childhood vaccination to improving the productivity of small scale farms.
The place, where World Economic Forum is held — Davos in Switzerland — is sometimes referred to as the “Magic Meeting Place“, because world’s business and political leaders somehow open up and relax there. Yes, relax. Maybe the certain après-ski atmosphere and mountain’s weather have something to do with it, as all the distractions tend to disappear and more effective solutions to problems take their place. Between many important people, such persons like former US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, Israel’s President Sh. Peres, French Premier Raymond Barre, South Africa’s F. W. de Klerk and Nelson Mandela participated in the Forum throughout the years.
Once the official part of the Forum closes until the next year, the work continues on more than 50 year-round projects that are aimed at supporting the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. This way a new fund by the Norwegian government has been launched with a long-term goal to raise $400 million and protect 5 million hectares in countries working to reduce deforestation. Also, the team to building a coalition to protect the world’s oceans and marine resources has been formatted, a public-private coalition to build responsible, inclusive and sustainable battery supply chain has been mobilized, a plan to increase the global reuse and recycling rates has been endorsed, expanded partnership in order to provide clean water to 3.5 million people began. And these are just a few initiatives to mention.
If you haven’t already marked your calendars for this year’s World Economic Forum, it will take place on January 23 to 26, and will join more than three thousand leaders from all around the
It is announced the this year’s Forum will explore the root causes of the manifold political, economic and social fractures facing global society, as well as will try to find pragmatic solutions for them. The most important intention of the upcoming Forum is to create a shared future in a fractured world. Stating that the global context has changed dramatically, the Forum aims to rededicate leaders from all walks of life to developing a shared narrative to improve the state of world, noting, that the fractures that have emerged in the mentioned spheres must not foster intolerance, indecision and inaction.
Expert groups will be working in this Forum, covering impactful geopolitical sessions, which will be aired live to millions of citizens worldwide. Between honorable guests we will see the General Secretary of International Trade Union Confederation Sharan Burrow, General Director of the European Organization for Nuclear Research Fabiola Gianotti, Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund Christine Lagarde, Prime Minister of Norway Erna Solberg, Chairman and President of IBM Ginni Rometty, and many others.
World Economic Forum went a long way from the first meeting. Started with only 500 participants, the next year it will gather more than three thousand people that will come from 100 different countries. It is great to see that the traditions are important here: the Open Forum format brings leaders, business, civil society and academia to discuss global challenges and is open to everyone. Founders of the Forum believe that by coming together at the start of the year, it is truly possible to shape the future for the better. World Economic Forum is an unparalleled global effort in co-design, co-creation and collaboration. It’s deep and broad, and meaningful. Each year is a new opportunity to achieve better results, and WEF is honestly working on this one.