The World Economic Forum's Transformation Maps - a constantly refreshed repository of knowledge about global issues, from climate change to the future of work - are now publicly available for the first time and free of charge. But what are they? And what can we do with them?

What exactly are the Transformation Maps?

Transformation Maps are the World Economic Forum’s dynamic knowledge tool. They help users to explore and make sense of the complex and interlinked forces that are transforming economies, industries and global issues. The maps present insights written by experts along with machine-curated content. Together, this allows users to visualise and understand more than 120 topics and the connections and inter-dependencies between them, helping in turn to support more informed decision-making by leaders.

Mapping the oceans
Image: World Economic Forum

The maps harness the Forum network’s collective intelligence as well as the knowledge and insights generated through our activities, communities and events. And because the Transformation Maps are interlinked, they provide a single place for users to understand each topic from multiple perspectives. Each of the maps has a feed with the latest research and analysis drawn from leading research institutions and media outlets around the world.

As an example, imagine you are a student or government official, and you need up-to-date information about the dynamics of over-fishing. The Transformation Map on Oceans, curated with the University of California in Santa Barbara, has a dedicated "key issue" section dealing with this. The over-fishing section in turn links to a number of related maps, among them the Illicit Economy Transformation Map, curated with the Global Initiative against Transnational Organised Crime. This map notes, among other things, how criminals are profiting from natural resources, including fish, in a way that threatens global biodiversity.

Alternatively you could explore the topic of over-fishing from a governance perspective by consulting the map on Global Governance, curated with the University of Oxford, or through the lens of possible innovative solutions by exploring the Innovation map, curated by Nesta, an innovation foundation. There are thousands of other possible pathways throughout the interlinked Transformation Maps, which shift according to developments in the real world, reflecting and helping to demystify our complex planet.

Why do you cover this selection of topics?

The Transformation Maps cover issues that are relevant to the World Economic Forum and the people and organisations we work with. Broadly speaking, these are topics of global importance that require leaders from across different sectors to work together, from urbanization to inclusive economic growth. The list of topics is continuously reviewed and updated.

Who curates the Transformation Maps?

Most of the maps are co-curated by a leading university, think tank or international organization. Their content is subject to continuous peer review and adjustment by the Forum and its network of experts. Many co-curators come from institutions that are members of the Forum’s Global University Leaders Forum (GULF) community.

What do co-curators do?

A co-curator works with the Forum to identify and explain the key trends or drivers of change for their particular topic, drawing on their expertise and the latest research in their field as well as the insights from various Forum activities and communities. They explore how the key trends affecting their subject are in turn affected by other Transformation Map topics – covering industries, countries or regions, or global issues - and in doing so, the curators create a record of the connections and inter-dependencies between the different topics. These relationships are clearly represented in the maps’ graphic representations and accompanying texts, enabling a greater understanding of the complex web of influences that surround each issue.

Why do articles and publications appear alongside the maps?

Each Transformation Map has a dynamic feed of the latest research and analysis drawn from leading research institutions and media outlets around the world. These feeds enable users to access the latest research on a topic by clicking on a link that will take them back to the original source. The research and analysis contained in the feeds does not necessarily represent the views, opinions or positions of the World Economic Forum.