Annex to the accounts as at 30 June 2023
The World Economic Forum is an international organization integrating leaders from business, governments, academia and society at large into a global community committed to improving the state of the world.
To achieve its mission, the Forum acts as a catalyst for thought leadership and action mainly in the form of public- private partnerships.
For this purpose, the Forum identifies issues on the global, regional and industry agendas, seeks solutions and, wherever possible, creates partnerships for action.
The Forum always acts in the spirit of entrepreneurship in the global public interest, combining the forces of creative thinking, innovative initiatives and intellectual integrity with the will to advance peace and prosperity in the world.
In its activities, the Forum fully respects the essential role played by governments and international organizations as well as by their various affiliated institutions.
The Forum is a public interest, not-for-profit organization, is independent and does not pursue any political or ideological interests.
In its activities, the Forum proves in all circumstances its independence and impartiality.
The Forum is based in Cologny/Geneva, Switzerland. It has offices in Beijing (China), New York (USA), San Francisco (USA) and Tokyo (Japan).
The presentation of the consolidated financial statements of the World Economic Forum (hereafter “the Forum”, the “Foundation”, “the organization”) is based on the global model of recommendations made by Swiss GAAP FER (Swiss Generally Accepted Accounting Principles – in compliance with the conceptual framework, core FER
and other Swiss generally accepted accounting principles). The presentation provides a true and fair view of the organization’s assets, financial position and results. The financial statements were prepared on a going concern.
The consolidated financial statements are presented according to the principles of historical cost and appear in CHF. They also comply with article 83a of the Swiss Civil Code and the Foundation’s statutes.
The presentation and evaluation principles are the same as in previous fiscal years. No significant changes were made to the hypothesis or estimates used in the annual consolidated financial statements except the revision of the useful life of intangible assets, which is described below.
The main accounting rules used in the preparation of the Forum’s consolidated financial statements are described below.
After reviewing the existing contractual relationships between the World Economic and the Swiss Foundations, the organization concluded it has control over the Swiss Foundations. As a result, the Swiss Foundations have been part of the scope of consolidation since 2020.
The consolidated financial statements include the accounts of the World Economic Forum and of the entities that are controlled by the World Economic Forum as listed in the scope of consolidation. Control exists when the World Economic Forum is exposed to, or has rights to, variable returns from its involvement with the entity and has the ability to affect those returns through its powers over the entity.
The World Economic Forum fully consolidates entities in which it exercises exclusive control, either directly or indirectly.
The assets and liabilities of its controlled entities, together with the expenses and income, are included in full in the annual consolidated accounts.
Any minority interests in the net funds and the result appear separately in the consolidated balance sheet and the consolidated Statement of Activities. Under the unity principle, the minority interests are included in the Funds.
Intercompany balances, expenses and income are eliminated upon consolidation. The consolidated financial statements were prepared for the first time for the 2017 year end.
The World Economic Forum LLC has been consolidated for the period in which the World Economic Forum exercises its control, thus since 1 January 2017.
The World Economic Forum Japan was registered and affiliated in 2019 by the World Economic Forum and thus is consolidated for the first time for the 2019 year end.
There is no change in the scope of the financial statements for the year 2023.
The elements included in the financial statements of the World Economic Forum are measured in the currency that best reflects the economic reality of the transaction. The accounts are presented in Swiss francs (CHF), which is the functional currency of the World Economic Forum.
Transactions in foreign currencies are converted to the functional currency at the opening rate of the current month and provided by the Swiss Administration for foreign currencies. At the closing date, balance sheet items (with the exception of the Funds) denominated in foreign currencies are revaluated to
the functional currency at the average rate of the following month and provided by the Swiss Administration. The exchange losses and gains arising from the settlement of the transactions and from the re-evaluation in foreign currencies are posted to the Statement of Activities.
The consolidated accounts are prepared and presented in Swiss francs (CHF). The controlled entities express their financial statements in local currency. The individual items in
the Statement of Activities as well as the cash flow statements of the foreign entities are converted into the functional currency at the average exchange rate for the year published by the Swiss Administration for foreign currencies. The balance sheet items (with the exception of the Funds) are converted into the functional currency at the balance sheets rate published by the Swiss Administration for foreign currencies. The conversion differences resulting from the translation of the balance sheet items have no effect on the Statement of Activities and are recognized in the Funds along with the translation differences on the Statement of Activities arising from the difference of the average and the year- end exchange rate.
The preparation of the Forum’s financial statements requires management to make judgements, estimates and assumptions that affect the reported amounts of revenue, expenses, assets and liabilities, and the accompanying disclosure of contingent liabilities. Uncertainty about these assumptions and estimates could result in outcomes that require a material adjustment to the carrying amount of assets or liabilities which would be affected in future periods.
The key assumptions concerning the future, and other key sources of estimation uncertainty at the reporting date that have a significant risk of causing a material adjustment to the carrying amounts of assets and liabilities within the next financial year, are described below. The organization based its assumptions and estimates on parameters available when the financial statements were prepared. Existing circumstances and assumptions about future developments, however, may change due to market changes or circumstances that arise and are beyond the control of the organization. Such changes are reflected in the assumptions when they occur.
Impairment exists when the carrying value of an asset or cash- generating unit exceeds its recoverable amount. The fair value of the category “buildings” is determined by an expert every five years based on available data from binding sales transactions conducted at arm’s length for similar assets or on observable market prices less incremental costs of disposing of the asset.
The organization computes its provision for allowance on doubtful accounts based on the ageing of its trade receivables. All trade receivables older than 180 days at the balance sheet date are fully provisioned, including some other outstanding invoices that represent a risk of non-recoverability. The ageing period was increased in 2022 to a normalized threshold estimation of 180 days from the tighter period of 60 days in 2021 due to the uncertainty related to the COVID-19 pandemic. Existing circumstances and assumptions about future developments, however, may change due to market changes or circumstances that are beyond the control of the World Economic Forum.
The Forum capitalizes costs for product development projects. The initial capitalization of costs is based on Management’s judgement that technological and economic feasibility is confirmed, usually when a product development project has reached a defined milestone according to an established project management model. In determining the amounts to be capitalized, Management makes assumptions such as determining the percentage of time spent by some on its employees on development activities which are eligible for capitalization or the expected future cash generation and benefits of the projects. Management also establishes the useful life of its intangible assets, which was reduced from five years to two years for most.
This item represents assets in current accounts as well as short-term cash deposit. These transactions are recorded at the exchange rate prevailing at the time of the transaction. These items are revalued at year end at the closing rate.
Receivables are recorded at the amount originally billed. A provision for bad debts is established on the basis of a review of the open items at the end of the period, when there is
high probability that the amounts will not be recovered by the company. All trade receivables older than 180 days at the balance sheet date are fully provisioned, including any outstanding invoices where recoverability is not assured. The
ageing period was increased in 2022 to a normalized threshold estimation of 180 days from the tighter period of 60 days in 2021 due to the uncertainty related to the COVID-19 pandemic. Amounts that are definitively unrecoverable are written off.
This position includes the prepaid expenses relating to the following accounting period, as well as accrued revenue.
Securities are valued at acquisition cost less impairment. Realized gains and losses upon the disposal of investment securities are recognized in financial income and expenses, respectively, using the weighted average cost method.
Property, plant and equipment are recorded at historical cost, less accumulated depreciation.
The depreciation method is straight-line and based on the following useful lives, by category of assets:
Expenses for repairs and maintenance are booked to the Statement of Activities. Expenses for major renovation are capitalized and amortized over the life of the element replaced, but never beyond the remaining useful life of the underlying asset. Costs of research for ongoing projects are not capitalized but expensed when incurred.
The Foundation tests each asset at the balance sheet date and any impairment is recognized if necessary.
The tests are performed in a cyclic manner on the basis of five years for art objects, land and buildings.
Research costs are expensed as incurred. Development expenditures on an individual project are recognized as an intangible asset, also called “ICT”, when the organization can demonstrate the following:
Intangible assets are included at their historical value, reduced by depreciation. The depreciation method is straight-line and based on a standard useful life of between two and three years. Amortization of the asset begins when development is complete and the asset is available for use. The carrying value of the intangible assets is tested for impairment annually.
This item includes expenses payable relating to the current period, for which the invoice was not received at year end, which will only be paid in the following period.
A provision is booked when the Foundation has a probable obligation that is based on a past event and its amount and/or its due date is uncertain but can be estimated. This obligation gives rise to a liability.
Loans from credit institutions are recognized at their nominal value. Debt issuance costs are amortized over the term of the debt. They are classified as current liabilities unless the settlement of the liability defers for at least 12 months after the reporting date.
The risk surrounding the fluctuation of foreign exchange rates and interest rates is hedged through the use of derivative financial instruments. Following the Swiss GAAP FER framework, the organization uses the off-balance sheet method, whereby the hedging instruments are disclosed in the notes without being recognized on the balance sheet. Financial derivative become favourable (assets) or unfavourable (liabilities) as a result of fluctuations in market interest rates or foreign exchange rates relative to their terms. The fair value of publicly traded derivatives, securities and investments is based on quoted market prices at the reporting date.
Revenue is recognized when there is persuasive evidence that an arrangement exists, and risks and rewards are transferred. The amounts are posted to the statement of income, net of taxes.
The Foundation covers the costs related to the professional pension of all its workers, as well as their assignees, under the legal prescription. The pension plan is covered by Swiss Law in accordance with the World Economic Forum’s statutes.
The pension obligations and the plan assets are managed by a legally independent pension fund. The organization, the management and the financing of the pension plans are governed by the law (LPP), together with the deed of foundation and the regulations applicable to pensions in force.
According to Swiss GAAP RPC 15, the following Foundations are considered as related parties:
Agreements were signed with some of these related parties, such as the Schwab Foundation, Forum of Young Global Leaders, World Arts Forum and Global Shapers Community, stating that the World Economic Forum will cover their deficits, if any.
All other transactions between the parties are conducted at arm’s length.
To satisfy the requirements of an internal control system, the World Economic Forum operates a continuous review of risk and control through various independent institutional review and governance organs, such as the Board of Trustees, Audit Committee and Statutory Audit under Swiss Law.
Internally, the World Economic Forum is governed by the Managing Board under the leadership of the President, Børge Brende.
Internal organs, such as the Engagement Leadership Team and the Project Review Board, safeguard suitability and eligibility of Partners and members and review project activities.
The Swiss franc is the functional currency of the Foundation.
The World Economic Forum receives its revenue in Swiss francs and US dollars. Most expenses are in Swiss francs and a minority are in euros and US dollars. The exchange risk exposure is very low on the organization’s day-to-day activities, and generated gains and losses are posted in the Statement of Activities.
Nevertheless, the exchange risk is high considering that the Forum borrowed the equivalent in US dollars of CHF 95 million. As a result, the organization entered into a cross-currency interest swap to hedge its exposure.
Management made the decision to reverse the provision previously recorded as of 30 June 2019 with respect to the fair value of the cross-currency interest swap. Indeed, the likelihood of early cancelling the derivative contract is remote when looking at the current perspective of the macroeconomic environment as of 30 June 2022 and as of 30 June 2023.
The Foundation is exposed to this risk in the event of default of certain counterparts or refinancing problems.
The liquidity is proactively supervised to ensure that the Foundation can cover its obligation at all times.
The Foundation has high exposure to interest rate fluctuations as it has to pay a floating interest rate on its two separate debts. Nevertheless, the organization entered into a cross-currency interest rate swap to hedge its exposure, leading the Foundation to pay a fixed rate.
The Foundation has low exposure to market risks thanks to the diversity of its revenues. Annual Meeting revenues in Davos- Klosters represented 10% of total revenues in 2023.
There was no change of Swiss GAAP RPC, either effective or published during the year.
1. Staff costs include salaries, social costs and other staff expenses.
2. Tangible assets: land, property, equipment, IT hardware and software. Intangible assets: IT development.
3. Accrued expenses: provision for activity costs, provision for staff. Deferred income: membership, partnership and registration income deferral.
*The consolidated figures include figures from the World Economic Forum and the World Economic Forum LLC as of 1 January 2017.
As of 1 July 2019, consolidation includes World Economic Forum Japan and other related Foundations (Forum of Young Global Leaders, Schwab Foundation for Social Entrepreneurship, Global Shapers Community, World Arts Forum).