World Economic Forum

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World Economic Forum
Founded 1971 (as "European Management Forum")
Headquarters Geneva, Switzerland
Key People Klaus Schwab, Founder and Chairman; Sheila Warren, Head of Blockchain and Distributed Ledger Technology
Products Annual Davos, Switzerland, Meeting
Twitter @wef
LinkedIn Profile
Facebook Page
Website World Economic Forum Homepage
Releases Company News

The World Economic Forum is an independent, international organization incorporated as a Swiss not-for-profit foundation. It believes that economic progress and social development are inextricably tied. It holds an annual meeting each January in Davos, Switzerland that brings together economists, political leaders, business leaders and journalists in a dialog on issues that threaten or concern economies all over the world.

The Forum aims to be the foremost organization which builds and energizes leading global communities; the creative force shaping global, regional and industry strategies; the catalyst of choice for its communities when undertaking global initiatives to improve the state the world.[1]


The World Economic Forum was first conceived in January 1971 by a group of European business leaders in a gathering that took place in Davos, Switzerland. It was chaired by German-born Klaus Schwab, then Professor of business policy at the University of Geneva. He then founded the European Management Forum as a non-profit organization based in Geneva, Switzerland, and drew European business leaders to Davos for their annual meeting. While he initially focused the meetings on how European firms could catch up with US management practices, Schwab also developed and promoted the "stakeholder" management approach, which based corporate success on managers taking account not only of shareholders but also of employees and their communities.

The collapse of the Bretton Woods fixed exchange rate mechanism in 1973, along with the Arab-Israeli War, saw the annual meeting expand its focus from management to economic and social issues, and political leaders were invited for the first time to Davos in January 1974. Two years later, the organization introduced a system of membership, which were "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.[2]

The European Management Forum changed its name to the World Economic Forum in 1987.


Some of the highlights from the World Economic Forum in Davos have been:

  • 2008: At the Annual Meeting 2008, Japanese Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda unveiled a five-year, US$ 10 billion fund to support efforts in developing countries to combat global warming – a move to ensure that top priority is given to climate change at that year’s G8 Summit in Hokkaido.
  • 2008: At the Annual Meeting 2008, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation announced a US$ 306 million package of agricultural development grants.
  • 2008: The World Economic Forum, Forum Member companies and the United Nations launched initiatives to deepen private sector support of humanitarian relief operations. Among the programs established: Agility, TNT and UPS, three leading logistics and transport companies, are joining forces to help the humanitarian sector with emergency response to natural disasters.
  • 2008: The World Economic Forum released a report on the interfaith dialogue between Muslim and Western societies. Islam and the West: Annual Report on the State of Dialogue is intended to be an annual global reference on the state of dialog among faiths that will increase interfaith communication and understanding.
  • 2011: At the Annual Meeting 2011, public figures in attendance included; French President Nicolas Sarkozy, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron, and German Chancellor Angela Merkel, among others.
  • 2011: The World Economic Forum announced that the 2011 slogan was "Shared norms for the new reality." The WFE explained that the slogan reflects the pressing concerns of many international leaders living in a world that is becoming more complex and interconnected. The slogan also touches upon the erosion of common values that might hinder future economic growth and political stability.
  • 2011: Discussions focused on the the future of the European Union; tensions between the US and China; the threat of a food-price crisis that will hinder growth in emerging markets; global governance from the United Nations to the Group of 20 nations; and the panoply of regional crises in the North Korea to the Middle East. [3]
  • 2011: President of the European Central Bank (ECB)Jean-Claude Trichet warned that inflation pressures in the euro zone must be watched closely, and urged central bankers everywhere to ensure that higher energy and food prices did not gain a foothold in the global economy.[4]

Cryptocurrency initiatives[edit]

Policy-maker toolkit[edit]

In January 2020, the Forum released a framework to help central banks around the world figure out if central bank digital currencies (CBDCs) could potentially benefit them. The framework was dubbed the "CBDC Policy-Maker Toolkit," and included 28 pages of information about the retail sale of digital currencies, cross-border CBDCs, and "hybrid" CBDCs - AKA "synthetic CBDC" or "reserve-backed private tokens." ("Hybrid CBDCs" is a term used in the document referring to privately-created and managed digital assets tied to monetary reserves.) The document includes cost-benefit analyses, current challenges related to CBDCs (regulatory, technical, etc.), and other important factors the WEF and associated authors of the Toolkit deemed necessary to consider before adopting a CBDC. For example, the document points out that in some economies, CBDCs have the potential to reduce the costs associated with cross-border payments; however, in countries where "efficient" systems already exist, CBDCs may not add much value. In situations where CBDCs could potentially be a valuable tool for a given financial system, the document said, that system may need to invest heavily in cybersecurity measures. It was developed by the WEF in association with more than 40 banks, academic researchers, and financial institutions.[5][6]

Global consortium[edit]

The Forum announced the formation of a Global Consortium for Digital Currency Governance. According to WEF Founder and Chairman Klaus Schwab, "Building on our long history of public-private cooperation, we hope that hosting this consortium will catalyze the conversations necessary to inform a robust framework of governance for global digital currencies." he said.“ The Forum's announcement indicated support from the Bank of England's Mark Carney and a number of developing nation central banks.[7] David Marcus of the Libra Association, Joe Lubin of ConsenSys and Neha Narula of MIT's Digital Currency Initiative expressed support for the effort in a press release.[8]

Blockchain toolkit[edit]

On April 27, 2020, in the middle of the coronavirus pandemic which upended global supply chains, the Forum published Redesigning Trust: Blockchain Deployment Toolkit. The document provides a framework for designing s more transparent and resilient blockchain based supply chain.[9]

The supply chain project was initiated a year before the pandemic began, and it gained in significance as the pandemic exposed serious vulnerabilities in global supply chains both for industrial and medical supplies. According to the Forum's Nadia Hewett, one of the the toolkit's authors, blockchain "“is not a silver bullet. It's not going to solve it all, but it absolutely has features that can help with issues that's typical in epidemics and pandemics.”[10]


The World Economic Forum has about 1000 members that drive the world economy forward. A typical member is a global enterprise with more than US$ 5 billion in turnover. [11]

Key People[edit]

  • Klaus Schwab, Founder and Executive Chairman
  • Borge Brende, President
  • Brian Behlendorf, Chief Technology Officer
  • W. Lee Howell, Managing Director
  • Gilbert J.B. Probst, Managing Director
  • Alois Zwinggi, Managing Director
  • Robert Greenhill, Managing Director and Chief Business Officer
  • Adrian Monck, Head of Communication and Media
  • Richard Samans, Managing Director
  • Sheila Warren, Sheila Warren, Head of Blockchain and Distributed Ledger Technology