World Economic Forum
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
|World Economic Forum|
|Motto||Entrepreneurship in the global public interest|
|Formation|| • 1971, as European Management Forum
• 1987, name changed to World Economic Forum
|Headquarters||Cologny, Geneva, Switzerland|
|Executive Chairman||Klaus Schwab|
The World Economic Forum (WEF) is a Swiss non-profit foundation, based in Cologny, Geneva. It describes itself as an independent international organization 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 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, selected intellectuals and journalists to discuss the most pressing issues facing the world, including health and the environment.
The organisation also convenes some six to eight regional meetings each year in locations such as Latin America and East Asia, as well as undertaking two further annual meetings in China and the United Arab Emirates. Beside meetings, the foundation produces a series of research reports and engages its members in sector specific initiatives. The 2011 annual meeting in Davos was held from 26 to 30 January. The 2012 meeting was held on 25–29 January 2012, with the theme "The Great Transformation: Shaping New Models". The 2013 meeting was held from 23 January to 27 January, with the theme of "Resilient Dynamism," following founder Klaus Schwab's declaration that "the need for global cooperation has never been greater".
The Forum was founded in 1971 by Klaus Schwab, a German-born business professor at the University of Geneva. Originally named the "European Management Forum", it changed its name to the World Economic Forum in 1987 and sought to broaden its vision further 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 non-profit organization based in Geneva and drew European business leaders to Davos for the annual meetings each January.
Schwab developed the "stakeholder" management approach which attributed corporate success on managers 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. 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 political leaders were invited for the first time to the annual meeting in January 1974.
As the years went by, political leaders began to use the annual meeting as a neutral platform to resolve their differences. 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.
Headquartered in Cologny, in 2006 the foundation opened regional offices in Beijing and New York City. It strives to be impartial, and is not tied to any political, partisan or national interests. The foundation is "committed to improving the State of the World", and had until 2012 observer status with the United Nations Economic and Social Council, and is under the supervision of the Swiss Federal Council. The foundation's highest governance body is the Foundation Board.
During the five-day Annual Meeting in Davos, over 2,500 participants from close to 100 countries gather in Davos. Around 1,500 are business leaders, drawn from its members, 1,000 of the world's top companies. Besides these, participants included 219 public figures, including 40 heads of state or government, 64 cabinet ministers, 30 heads or senior officials of international organizations and 10 ambassadors. More than 432 participants were from civil society, including 32 heads or representatives of non-governmental organizations, 225 media leaders, 149 leaders from academic institutions and think tanks, 15 religious leaders of different faiths and 11 union leaders.[not in citation given]
The foundation is funded by its 1,000 member companies, the typical company being a global enterprise with more than five billion dollars in turnover, although the latter can vary by industry and region. In addition, these enterprises rank among the top companies within their industry and/or country and play a leading role in shaping the future of their industry and/or region. Membership is stratified by the level of engagement with Forum activities, with the level of membership fees increasing as participation in meetings, projects and initiatives rises.
Annual meeting in Davos
The flagship event of the foundation is the invitation-only annual meeting held every year at the end of January in Davos, bringing together chief executive officers from its 1,000 member companies as well as selected politicians, representatives from academia, NGOs, religious leaders and the media in an alpine environment. The town is small enough to allow participants to meet anywhere outside the sessions and allows them to attend the most possible receptions organized by companies and countries. Informal meetings may have led to as many ideas and solutions as the official sessions. Around 2,200 participants gather for the five-day event and attend some of the 220 sessions in the official programme. The discussions focus around key issues of global concern (such as international conflicts, poverty and environmental problems and possible solutions). In all, about 500 journalists from online, print, radio and television take part, and are furnished with access to all of the sessions in the official program, some of which are also webcast.
In 2011, some 250 public figures (head of state or government, cabinet ministers, ambassadors, heads or senior officials of international organization) attended the annual meeting, including: Felipe Calderón, Robert B. Zoellick, Álvaro Uribe Vélez, Nicolas Sarkozy, Ban Ki-moon, Angela Merkel, N. Chandrababu Naidu, Ferenc Gyurcsany, François Fillon, Morgan Tsvangirai, Gordon Brown, David Cameron, Min Zhu, Paul Kagame, Queen Rania of Jordan, Dmitry Medvedev, Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, Kevin Rudd, Barney Frank, Kofi Annan, Werner Faymann, Leonel Fernández, Jacob Zuma, Naoto Kan, Jean-Claude Trichet and Zeng Peiyan.
Al Gore, Bill Clinton, Bill Gates, Michael Wolf, Bono, Paulo Coelho and Tony Blair are also regular Davos attendees. Past attendees include Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Henry Kissinger, Nelson Mandela, Raymond Barre, Julian Lloyd Webber and Yasser Arafat.
Annual Meeting of the New Champions
In 2007, the foundation established the Annual Meeting of the New Champions (also called Summer Davos), held annually in China and alternating between Dalian and Tianjin, bringing together 1,500 influential stakeholders of what the foundation calls Global Growth Companies, primarily from rapidly growing emerging countries such as China, India, Russia, Mexico, and Brazil, but also including fast movers from developed countries. The meeting also engages with the next generation of global leaders, fast-growing regions, competitive cities and technology pioneers from around the globe. Premier Wen Jiabao has delivered a plenary address at each annual meeting.
Every year regional meetings take place, enabling close contact between corporate business leaders, local government leaders and NGOs. Meetings are held in Africa, East Asia, Latin America and the Middle East The mix of hosting countries varies from year to year, but China and India have hosted consistently over the past decade.
Young Global Leaders
The World Economic Forum’s Forum of Young Global Leaders is a community of more than 800 people who share a commitment to shaping the global future. These Young Global Leaders (most are aged in their 30s when elected to the community) are elected by the Forum as representative of today’s leadership, "coming from all regions of the world and representing all stakeholders in society" according to the organisation.
Every year the Forum reviews thousands of nominations to find between 100-200 of the best, most accomplished and inspiring young leaders to join the community. According to the Forum, Candidates are selected based on their proven track record of professional accomplishments, breadth of their expertise, commitment to society and their ability to overcome adversity, among other criteria.
The YGL Community aims to positively impact the global agenda by engaging its members in initiatives and task forces related to specific global challenges which they identify collectively. YGLs bring their diverse skill-set to tackle a range of issues.
YGLs are asked to join the community for a five year term before graduating to the YGL Alumni Community.
Since 2000 the foundation has been promoting models developed by the world's leading social entrepreneurs in close collaboration with the Schwab Foundation for Social Entrepreneurship. The foundation highlights social entrepreneurship as a key element to advance societies and address social problems. Selected social entrepreneurs are invited to participate in the foundation's regional meetings and the annual meetings where they have a chance to meet chief executives and senior government officials. At the Annual Meeting 2003, for example, Jeroo Billimoria met with Roberto Blois, deputy secretary-general of the International Telecommunication Union, an encounter that produced a key partnership for her organization Child Helpline International.
In 2011, the Forum started a global network of people between the ages of 20 and 30 who have shown great potential for future leadership roles in society. The Community of Global Shapers is a network of self-organizing local hubs based in each major city around the world. They undertake events and activities intended by the Shapers to generate a positive impact within their local community.
The foundation also serves as a think tank, and publishes a wide range of reports focusing on issues of concern and importance to Forum communities. In particular, Strategic Insight Teams focus on producing reports of relevance in the fields of competitiveness, global risks and scenario thinking.
The Competitiveness Team produces a range of annual economic reports (first published in brackets): the Global Competitiveness Report (1979) measures competitiveness of countries and economies; The Global Information Technology Report (2001) assesses their competitiveness based on their IT readiness; the Global Gender Gap Report examines critical areas of inequality between men and women; the Global Risks Report (2006) assesses key global risks; the Global Travel and Tourism Report (2007) measures travel and tourism competitiveness and the Global Enabling Trade Report (2008) presents a cross-country analysis of the large number of measures facilitating trade between nations.
Thel Risk Response Network produces a yearly report assessing those risks which are deemed to be global in scope, have cross-industry relevance, are uncertain, have the potential to cause upwards of US$ 10 billion in economic damage, have the potential to cause major human suffering and which require a multistakeholder approach for mitigation.
The Global Health Initiative was launched by Kofi Annan at the Annual Meeting in 2002. The GHI's mission was to engage businesses in public-private partnerships to tackle HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, malaria and health systems.
The Global Education Initiative (GEI), launched during the Annual Meeting in 2003, brought together international IT companies and governments in Jordan, Egypt and India which has resulted in new personal computer hardware in the classrooms and more local teachers trained in e-learning. This is having a real impact on the lives of children. The GEI model which is scalable and sustainable is now being used as an educational blueprint in other countries including Rwanda.
The Environmental Initiative covers Climate Change and Water. Under the Gleneagles Dialogue on Climate Change, the U.K. government asked the World Economic Forum at the G8 Summit in Gleneagles in 2005 to facilitate a dialogue with the business community to develop recommendations for reducing greenhouse gas emissions. This set of recommendations, endorsed by a global group of CEOs, was presented to leaders ahead of the G8 Summit in Toyako/Hokkaido held in July 2008.
The Water Initiative brings together different stakeholders like Alcan Inc., the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation, USAID India, UNDP India, Confederation of Indian Industry (CII), Government of Rajasthan and the NEPAD Business Foundation to develop public-private partnerships on water management in South Africa and India.
In an effort to combat corruption, the Partnering Against Corruption Initiative (PACI) was launched by CEOs from the Engineering and Construction, Energy and Metals and Mining industries at the Annual Meeting in Davos in January 2004. PACI is a platform for peer exchange on practical experience and dilemma situations. Some 140 companies have signed.
Technology Pioneers Programme
The Technology Pioneers Programme recognizes companies all over the world designing and developing new technologies. The award is given to 30–50 companies each year. Since 2000, more than 400 companies from 5 continents have been given the award.
In line with the foundation's commitment to improving the state of the world, the Tech Pioneers are integrated into its activities with the objective to identify and address future-oriented issues on the global agenda, in proactive, innovative and entrepreneurial ways. By bringing these executives together with scientists, academics, NGOs, and foundation members and partners, the foundation's goal is to shed new light on how technologies can be used to, for example, find new vaccines, create economic growth and enhance global communication.
In the late 1990s the foundation, along with the G7, World Bank, World Trade Organization and International Monetary Fund, came under heavy criticism by anti-globalisation activists who claimed that capitalism and globalization were increasing poverty and destroying the environment. 10,000 demonstrators disrupted the World Economic Forum in Melbourne, Australia, obstructing the passage of 200 delegates to the meeting. Demonstrations are repeatedly held in Davos (see Anti-WEF protests in Switzerland, January 2003) to protest against the meeting of "fat cats in the snow", as rock singer Bono tongue-in-cheek termed it.
American linguist and public intellectual Noam Chomsky has characterized the term "globalization" as propaganda as used in connection with trade policies advanced by the World Economic Forum:
"The dominant propaganda systems have appropriated the term 'globalization' to refer to the specific version of international economic integration that they favor, which privileges the rights of investors and lenders, those of people being incidental. In accord with this usage, those who favor a different form of international integration, which privileges the rights of human beings, become 'anti-globalist.' This is simply vulgar propaganda, like the term 'anti-Soviet' used by the most disgusting commissars to refer to dissidents. It is not only vulgar, but idiotic. Take the World Social Forum, called 'anti-globalization' in the propaganda system—which happens to include the media, the educated classes, etc., with rare exceptions. The WSF is a paradigm example of globalization. It is a gathering of huge numbers of people from all over the world, from just about every corner of life one can think of, apart from the extremely narrow highly privileged elites who meet at the competing World Economic Forum, and are called 'pro-globalization' by the propaganda system. An observer watching this farce from Mars would collapse in hysterical laughter at the antics of the educated classes."
In January 2000, 1,000 protesters marched through the streets of Davos and smashed the window of the local McDonald's restaurant. The tight security measures around Davos have kept demonstrators from the Alpine resort, and most demonstrations are now held in Zürich, Bern or Basel. The costs of the security measures, which are shared by the foundation and the Swiss cantonal and national authorities have also been frequently criticised in the Swiss national media.
Starting at the annual meeting in January 2003 in Davos, an Open Forum Davos, co-organized by the Federation of Swiss Protestant Churches, was held in parallel, opening up the debate about globalisation to the general public. The Open Forum has been held in the local high school every year, featuring top politicians and business leaders, and is open to all members of the public free of charge.
The annual meeting has also been decried as a "mix of pomp and platitude", and criticized for moving away from serious economics and accomplishing little of substance, particularly with the increasing involvement of NGOs that have little or no expertise in economics. Instead of a discussion on the world economy with knowledgeable experts alongside key business and political players, the annual meeting now features the top media political causes of the day, such as global climate change and AIDS in Africa.
Public Eye Awards
The Public Eye Awards have been held every year since 2000. It is a counter-event to the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos. Public Eye Awards is public competition of the world's worst corporation. In 2011, more than 50,000 people voted for companies that acted irresponsibly. At a ceremony at a Davos hotel, the "winners" in 2011 were named as Indonesian palm oil diesel maker Neste Oil in Finland and mining company AngloGold Ashanti in South Africa.
Davos Man is a neologism which refers to the global elite of wealthy men whose members view themselves as completely international. It is similar to the term Masters of the Universe attributed to influential financiers on Wall Street.
Davos Men supposedly see their identity as a matter of personal choice, not an accident of birth. According to political scientist Samuel P. Huntington, who is credited with inventing the phrase "Davos Man", they are people who "have little need for national loyalty, view national boundaries as obstacles that thankfully are vanishing, and see national governments as residues from the past whose only useful function is to facilitate the élite's global operations". In his 2004 article "Dead Souls: The Denationalization of the American Elite", he argues that this international perspective is a minority elitist position not shared by the nationalist majority of the people.
John Fonte of the Hudson Institute has suggested that the transnational ideology of Davos Man represents a major challenge to Francis Fukuyama's assertion that liberal democracy represents the fulfillment of The End of History and the Last Man.
Hernando de Soto Polar of the Institute for Liberty and Democracy attributes a similar concept to Henri Braudel, referring to it as the "bell jar". Although internationally connected, each country's elite lives in a bell jar in the sense of being out of touch with its own populace. Their isolation fosters a tendency to be oblivious to the fate of their fellow citizens.
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