For the first time, the World Economic Forum structured the agenda of the Annual Meeting to provide targeted support to the United Kingdom, which had taken over the chair of the G8 group of industrialized nations and would assume the presidency of the EU in the second half of the year. The Forum has continued this approach, giving to the chairs of the G8 and – since its emergence in 2009 as the main forum for managing the global economy – the G20 a prominent Davos platform such as the opening session. The Forum works closely with the respective chairs so that multistakeholder input is worked into their official agendas.
Another innovation was the “town hall meeting” at the start of the Annual Meeting. It gave the opportunity for all 2,000 participants to prioritize the concerns, which they wished to focus on and develop action agendas around, while in Davos and after.
The newly elected president of Ukraine, Viktor Yushchenko, made his first appearance outside his country. Following his appeal to the international business community for support, the Forum convened an Extraordinary Ukraine Roundtable in Kiev. Engagement with the strategically important nation has continued through the 2014 political crisis.
In 2005, the Forum began to develop a special competence in scenario planning. It has since published reports on scenarios to 2025 for India, Russia, China, the United Arab Emirates, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries, and the Kingdom of Bahrain, among other economies. It has also released scenario studies of sectors, including healthcare, financial services, engineering and construction, and IT.
The Forum also launched its milestone study Woman’s Empowerment: Measuring the Global Gender Gap. This landmark effort to assess gender equality led to the Global Gender Gap Report, which the Forum introduced in 2006 and has become one of the most closely analysed annual benchmarking exercises after the Global Competitiveness Report.
Set up as the headquarters of the Centre for Global Industries, the unit responsible for the Industry Partnership Programme, the Forum USA was established as an independent legal entity, with its own board of directors and officers and a formal link to the World Economic Forum through an affiliation agreement.
Another highlight of 2005 was the creation of the Global Leadership Fellows (GLF) programme. Over the years the Forum had undergone a gradual change from an organization with a strong event management capability to an institution emphasizing community building and knowledge management. This transformation accelerated with the GLF programme, which allowed the organization to attract exceptionally talented individuals.
From more than 1,800 applications, the Forum selected 47 Fellows from 35 nations and with an average age of 31. The recruits became full-time Forum employees. The assumption was that leadership could only be honed through actual experience. The Forum complemented the practical experience with academic modules at top business schools, including Columbia University, INSEAD, London Business School and The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. About 30 GLFs are now chosen every year.