Emerging Technologies

2023 in review: 5 must-reads to make sense of the year just gone – and to get ready for 2024

2023 in review: From generative AI, to economic uncertainty and the energy transition, 2023 might have been tricky to get your head around.

2023 in review: From generative AI, to economic uncertainty and the energy transition, 2023 might have been tricky to get your head around. Image: Unsplash/Alina Grubnyak

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  • From generative AI, to economic uncertainty and the energy transition, 2023 might have been tricky to get your head around.
  • Throughout the year, the World Economic Forum publishes reports and whitepapers giving context and solutions to these global challenges.
  • Here are 5 of this year's reports to look back on 2023, but also to help frame your thinking for 2024.

From the rapid expansion of generative AI technology to economic uncertainty, and the accelerating climate crisis, 2023 has seen changes and challenges, but also opportunities and the emergence of new innovations and opportunities.

Throughout, the World Economic Forum and its partners have released reports and insights to help you make sense of everything that's going on around you.

Here's a round-up of just some of them as we look back on 2023, but also look ahead to 2024, and our Annual Meeting in Davos in January.

And, of course, you can see our full collection of publications on our website.

Global Risks Report 2023

Have you read?
  • Global Risks Report 2023

A new edition of this is coming out in a few weeks, but 2023's Global Risks Report looked at the biggest risks in the short- and medium-term. In the short-term, January's report highlighted the risks faced by the cost-of-living crisis, which has seen countries around the world grapple with how to support their citizens, but also how to bring down inflation.

Central banks have raised interest rates across the globe, while governments have responded with measures to financially support the most vulnerable in society.

Top global risks Global Risks Report 2023
The top risks from this year's Global Risks Report. Image: World Economic Forum

In the longer term, the report emphasized the risks associated with the climate crisis, in particular a failure to act and mitigate its impact. COP28 brought together the global community in response, but as António Guterres, UN Secretary-General, told delegates in Dubai, "We are living through climate collapse in real time".

The Forum continues to bring together the public and private sectors to mitigate these risks and look to the future. Our Annual Meeting of the Global Future Councils, also in Dubai, looked at these interconnected challenges and brought together experts to map a path for a more resilient and sustainable future.

In July, we followed up with a survey of our community of chief risk officers, and what is front of mind for them. They identified four core risks to their organizations over the immediate term, including macroeconomic indicators and supply disruptions.


Fostering Effective Energy Transition 2023

Global progress on the energy transition has stalled, found this year's Fostering Effective Energy Transition report. Buffeted by a global energy crisis, inflationary pressures and geopolitical instability, the move to clean energy has faced a challenging time.

Consumers in many countries continued to feel the pinch of higher prices, with rising energy costs driving up other prices across global economies. With geopolitical challenges, focus has often shifted to energy security alongside sustainability, which has come at the expense of an equitable transition, argues the report.

However, investment continues to flow, and technological advances provide an optimistic vision for the future of the transition.

The energy transition index framework 2023
The energy triangle. Image: World Economic Forum

One of the key talking points at this year's World Economic Forum Sustainable Development Impact Meetings was decarbonizing hard-to-abate sectors and the role of innovation in doing so.


UpLink, the Forum's open platform for innovation, helps support entrepreneurship and innovation-led solutions to global challenges, including the energy transition, by connecting innovators with experts and investors.

Global Gender Gap Report 2023

This year's Global Gender Gap Report showed that progress to gender parity remains slow, with it set to take a further 131 years to reach full parity.

The situation has recovered to pre-pandemic levels, but the rate of change has slowed. In 2020, parity was forecast to be 100 years away. Reverting back to that timeline, this year's report found, will take significant speeding up.

Global Gender Gap report 2023
Progress to parity remains slow. Image: Global Gender Gap Report 2023

Some areas are much closer to parity, though, with the Health and Survival gender gap closed by 96% and Educational Attainment by 95.2%. Economic Participation and Opportunity gap has only closed 60.1%, though, and Political Empowerment by just 22.1%.

In October, thousands of women across Iceland, including the country's Prime Minister, Katrín Jakobsdóttir, went on strike, in protest at the gender pay gap and gender-based violence. It was the first full-day women's strike since 1975.

In response to the continuing gender gap, the World Economic Forum has brought together Gender Parity Accelerators in numerous countries around the world. These work with public and private sector partners to boost labour force participation and advance pay and leadership equality.

In Chile, among participating companies, the gender pay gap fell by 37%.


Future of Jobs Report 2023

With a global economy facing challenging headwinds, a tight labour market in many major economies, and rapid technological change hitting numerous sectors and professions, the future of jobs and work has been a hot topic this year.

The 2023 edition of the Forum's Future of Jobs Report explored these trends, and how they're impacting jobs and skills. Technology, digitalization and sustainability are key drivers of change in the workforces of the future, with the majority of the fastest-growing roles of the next five years linked to technology – for example, AI and Machine Learning Specialists.

The most important skills for workers this year were analytical thinking and creative thinking, and alongside AI and big data skills these are the priority for employers in the next four years as well.

Top 10 skills of 2023
Two cognitive skills took top place on the in-demand skills list. Image: World Economic Forum

It was against this backdrop that the World Economic Forum held its Growth Summit in May 2023. It brought together leaders from across sectors and industries to build opportunities – and tackle today's challenges. This included conversations around skills, job creation, and much more – you can watch one of the sessions below.

Then, in June, the Forum gathered leaders in Tianjin, China, for the Annual Meeting of the New Champions, to explore how to drive economic growth – in particular the role of entrepreneurship and innovation.

Top 10 Emerging Technologies of 2023

This year's Top 10 Emerging Technologies list came when one piece of tech was, seemingly, on everyone's lips – generative AI.

But, our list is far broader and demonstrates technology's positive impact in shaping our future. From sustainable aviation fuel to flexible batteries and designer phages, this year's top 10 emerging technologies will likely become increasingly familiar in the years ahead as they help tackle some of our biggest challenges.

For example, what if computing was more sustainable? Technological advances are helping make data centres more environmentally friendly, with innovations to repurpose the heat generated, or artificial intelligence enabling smarter energy use.


Tech doesn't come without its challenges though, and in particular around generative AI. In June, the World Economic Forum released a set of recommendations for the responsible use of generative AI, and later in the year held meetings on cybersecurity and AI governance.

Other publications to put on your reading list

Drawing on the individual and collective perspectives from the Forum’s Chief Economists Community, a regular Chief Economists Survey explores the key trends in the economic environment, including the prospects for growth, inflation and monetary policy.

The opportunities for business of rising demand for sustainable materials were clear in this report from January 2023.

Also from January was this look at the future of healthcare spending and the potential of value-based payment models.

Cyberattacks could cost the global economy $23.84 trillion by 2027, according to another report released at Davos 2023.

Investment in the Africa Continental Free Trade Area could have enormous benefits for local economies and business.

What is the future of the global food system? Our December report focusses on a shift to supporting human and planetary health.

The heavy industry and transport sectors are major emitters and need multilayered solutions to achieve net-zero emissions. Our tracker, released in November, looks at the progress being made.

How can companies contribute to reversing nature loss by the end of the decade? Our report series from September explores the action they can take.

Our Global Lighthouse Network welcomed 21 new members this year, alongside a new publication looking at how members are using AI to benefit society.

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World Economic Forum articles may be republished in accordance with the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International Public License, and in accordance with our Terms of Use.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author alone and not the World Economic Forum.

Related topics:
Emerging TechnologiesForum InstitutionalEnergy TransitionJobs and the Future of Work
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