The World Economic Forum is the International Organization for Public-Private Cooperation. It was established in 1971 as a not-for-profit foundation and is headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland. It is independent, impartial and not tied to any special interests.
The Forum holds four major annual meetings:
1. The World Economic Forum Annual Meeting, held in Davos-Klosters, Switzerland, shapes global, regional and industry agendas at the beginning of the calendar year.
2. The Annual Meeting of the New Champions, the Forum’s annual meeting on innovation, science and technology, is held in the People’s Republic of China.
3. The Annual Meeting of the Global Future Councils, held in the United Arab Emirates, brings together the world’s leading knowledge community to share insights on the major challenges facing the world today.
4. The Industry Strategy Meeting brings together Industry Strategy Officers to shape industry agendas and explore how industries can shift from managing change to pioneering change.
Professor Klaus Schwab founded what was originally called the European Management Forum, as a non-profit foundation based in Geneva, Switzerland. It drew business leaders from Europe, and beyond, to Davos for an Annual Meeting each January.
Initially, Professor Schwab focused the meetings on how European firms could catch up with US management practices. He also developed and promoted the ‘stakeholder’ management approach, which based corporate success on managers taking account of all interests: not merely shareholders, clients and customers, but employees and the communities within which they operate, including government.
Professor Schwab’s vision for what would become the World Economic Forum grew steadilly as a result of achieving ‘milestones’. Events in 1973, namely 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. Political leaders were invited for the first time to Davos in January 1974.
Two years later, the organization introduced a system of membership for ‘the 1,000 leading companies of the world’. The European Management Forum was the first non-governmental institution to initiate a partnership with China’s economic development commissions, spurring economic reform policies in China. Regional meetings around the globe were also added to the year’s activities, while the publication of the Global Competitiveness Report in 1979 saw the organization expand to become a knowledge hub as well.
In 1987, the European Management Forum became the World Economic Forum and sought to broaden its vision to include providing a platform for dialogue. World Economic Forum Annual Meeting milestones during this time include the Davos Declaration signed in 1988 by Greece and Turkey, which saw them turn back from the brink of war, while in 1989, North and South Korea held their first ministerial-level meetings in Davos. At the same Meeting, East German Prime Minister Hans Modrow and German Chancellor Helmut Kohl met to discuss German reunification. In 1992, South African President de Klerk met Nelson Mandela and Chief Mangosuthu Buthelezi at the Annual Meeting, their first joint appearance outside South Africa and a milestone in the country’s political transition.
In 2015, the Forum was formally recognised as an international organization. It is now on the next phase of its journey as the global platform for public-private cooperation.
As an international organization with no commercial interest, the Forum provides a platform for leaders from all stakeholder groups from around the world – business, government and civil society – to come together.
[Members and Partners]
Each World Economic Forum Industry community comprises select Partner companies that are shaping and transforming their industries in strategic and socially responsible ways.
World Economic Forum Strategic Partners represent 100 leading global companies, each providing essential leadership to support the Forum’s mission of improving the state of the world.
Strategic Partner Associates
World Economic Forum Strategic Partner Associates include the world’s leading businesses, and are actively involved in shaping the future of industries, regions and systemic issues.
World Economic Forum Partners are world-class companies with a strong interest in developing systemic solutions to key challenges.
World Economic Forum Associate Partner companies are active participants in Forum communities and have а strong interest in addressing challenges affecting their operations and society at large. Associate Partners are entitled to engage in one System Initiative, region or community.
World Economic Forum Institutional Members are among the most recognized and respected companies in the world. They actively engage in the Forum’s many initiatives and programmes.
World Economic Forum Member companies represent outstanding firms that count among the world’s top innovators, market shapers, disruptors, niche market leaders and regional champions.