World Economic Forum

World Economic Forum (1971; Davos, Geneva; 400 staff;

The economic forum is 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.” Best-known for its annual meeting of luminaries in Davos, Switzerland. Membership involves “1000 of the world’s top corporations.” Besides that they hold many smaller meetings and events around the globe that focus on specific issues.

WEF’s work focuses on five Issue Areas: Economic Growth (including food security and a circular economy), Environmental Sustainability, Financial Systems, Health for All, and Social Development. Their employees come from 60+ nationalities in four centers in  Geneva, Beijing, New York, and Tokyo.

They view the global, regional and industry challenges facing the world as the result of the interaction between interconnected systems “from global systems that influence the environment and natural resource security, to the economic systems that create inequality, to the regional systems that determine the fortunes of nations, to the industrial systems that determine the effectiveness of supply and demand.” They work with their members “to understand and influence the entirety of the system that affects the challenges and opportunities they are trying to address.”

System Initiatives:


A selection out of the 31 current projects



  • Chief Economists Outlook (2021) – Explores the most important forces “supporting the recovery as well as important developments and risks that could yet delay or derail it. It draws on the collective views and individual perspectives of a group of leading Chief Economists, through the Forum’s Chief Economists Survey and consultations with the Chief Economists Community.”
  • Fostering Effective Energy Transition (2019, 40p.) – Summarizes insights in a “Energy Transition Index”, that “benchmarks 115 countries on the current level of their energy system performance, and the readiness of their macro environment for transition to a secure, sustainable, affordable and inclusive future energy system.”
  • The Global Risks Report 2019 (Jan 2019, 107p) – An annual report that is based on the WEF Global Risks Perceptions Survey of “nearly 1,000 decision-makers from the public sector, academia, and civil society.”  Scientists are not mentioned, although some respondents, at least, probably have science backgrounds.  This 14th annual edition on evolving risks summarizes the top ten by likelihood and impact.  Top Ten in Likelihood: extreme weather events, failure of climate change mitigation or adaptation, natural disasters, data fraud or theft, cyberattacks, man-made environmental disasters, large-scale involuntary migration, biodiversity loss/ecosystem collapse, water crises, asset bubbles in a major economy.  Top Ten in Impact: weapons of mass destruction, failure of climate mitigation/adaptation, extreme weather events, water crises, natural disasters, biodiversity loss/ecosystem collapse, cyber-attacks, critical information infrastructure breakdown, man-made environmental disasters, spread of infectious diseases.   No action agenda is proposed, but the report is a valuable reminder that weapons of mass destruction and ruinous cyber-attacks can worsen environmental problems even more.  We cannot have sustainability without security, but we also cannot have security without sustainability.

Leadership: Klaus Schwab (Founder, Executive Chairman), Børge Brende (President)
Budget: ~CHF325m

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