Building an International Organization for Public-Private Cooperation

Preparing for the Future

In the autumn, the Forum began to implement its FORUM2020 strategy, the last phase of its transformation from a founder-led organization into an international organization for public-private cooperation.


The Annual Meeting produced many of what participants call “Davos moments”. President Hassan Rouhani of the Islamic Republic of Iran delivered a message of “friendship, engagement, cooperation and peaceful coexistence” to participants in the packed Congress Hall. In a message read out by Cardinal Peter Turkson of Ghana, Pope Francis called on business and political leaders to pursue “an inclusive approach which takes into consideration the dignity of every human person and the common good”. For all the electrifying moments at the Annual Meeting, the Forum’s partners, members and constituents were also moving forward their initiatives and activities beyond Davos.

At the World Economic Forum on Latin America in Panama City, Panama, in April, more than 600 participants explored ways to build on the success of the region in lifting more than 70 million out of poverty.

The World Economic Forum on Africa was held in Abuja, Nigeria, in May, despite a difficult security situation, with participants focusing on how to create jobs, improve infrastructure across the continent, and bolster agricultural development. The participation of Premier Li Keqiang of China added to the significance of the meeting.

Also in May, the World Economic Forum on East Asia took place in Manila, the Philippines, which only months before had been hit by Typhoon Haiyan, the strongest recorded storm ever to hit land. President Benigno Simeon Aquino III stressed the importance of good governance, action against corruption and structural reforms to sustain the economic success. At the meeting, the Forum presented the Global Statesmanship Award to Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, the third recipient of the prize. Days later, the Forum held its national strategy meeting in Tokyo, Japan, with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe speaking in the closing session. In the discussions, participants shared ideas and insights with ministers and business leaders on Japan’s Abenomics reform programme. The one-day event took place in a club in the Roppongi district, an unusual venue that created a high level of intimacy and allowed business and civil society leaders from outside Japan to join the meeting through a video link.

Later in June, the Forum held a “Meet the Government” event in Berlin, which included an informal discussion and dinner with German Chancellor Angela Merkel. In July, Cardinal Turkson in his role as president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, welcomed to Vatican City business, government and civil society leaders to a special meeting on “The Global Common Good: Towards a More Inclusive Economy”, which the Forum convened to build on the Pope’s Davos message of inclusion. The Forum launched the NETmundial initiative, a coalition of diverse stakeholders from the private sector, government, academia, technical and civil society communities joining together to find ways to maximize the collaborative and creative power of the internet.

The Forum was born to give life to Klaus Schwab’s stakeholder concept. Since then, it has adapted its role according to the changing needs of business and society.

In his essay Global Corporate Citizenship: Working with Governments and Civil Society, published in the January/February 2008 issue Foreign Affairs, Schwab described that shift:

“A new imperative for business, best described as ‘global corporate citizenship’, must be recognized. It expresses the conviction that companies not only must be engaged with their stakeholders but are themselves stakeholders alongside governments and civil society. International business leaders must fully commit to sustainable development and address paramount global challenges, including climate change, the provision of public health care, energy conservation, and the management of resources, particularly water. Because these global issues increasingly impact business, not to engage with them can hurt the bottom line. Because global citizenship is in a corporation’s enlightened self-interest, it is sustainable. Addressing global issues can be good both for the corporation and for society at a time of increasing globalization and diminishing state influence.”1

Because business, governments, international organizations and civil society are all stakeholders in a common future, they must work together to secure it. For this reason, the World Economic Forum will become an even more trusted partner in making these essential collaborative efforts possible and effective.

  1. Klaus Schwab, “Global Corporate Citizenship: Working With Governments and Civil Society”, Foreign Affairs, January/February 2008