Full report
Published: 6 September 2023

Annual Report 2022-2023

Our Core Functions

Impressions from the Industry Strategy Meeting 2023 in Geneva, Technologies for Health and Wellness session; Switzerland, 15 March. Copyright: World Economic Forum/Marc Bader

Partner and Stakeholder Engagement

During the 2022-2023 fiscal year, the World Economic Forum experienced strong partnership growth, despite geopolitical and pandemic-related challenges. The Forum increased its

partnerships by almost 8%, with the partnership base rising to a record high of 845. This reflected the addition of more than 160 new partnerships and the strong retention of existing partnerships.

These results were principally driven by the addition of more than 80 companies that signed Associate Partnerships, many of which were Global Innovators that expanded their engagement.

Growth also stemmed from engagement renewals by companies able to resume their partnership with the Forum as the COVID-19 situation became more manageable. The Strategic Partner community maintained solid engagement with 120 Partners, as of 30 June 2023.

For the first time since 2020, the World Economic Forum was able to deliver all its flagship events in person, including the

Annual Meeting, Growth Summit, Industry Strategy Meeting, Annual Meeting of the New Champions and Sustainable Development Impact Meetings. These provided the opportunity for Partners to gather in person and served as accelerators of the Forum’s initiatives.

On a sectoral basis, partnership growth in the clusters of Mobility and Energy was notable, growing 17% and 20%, respectively.

The improved diversification helped broaden the issues with which the Forum engages. New companies that joined the Forum as Partners in this reporting period included several high-profile Fortune 500 companies.

Regionally, Asia-Pacific, China and Latin America proved significant drivers of growth, with a rise in partnerships of at least 14% in each region, reflected in the record numbers of business leaders participating in the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting 2023.

As the partnership base continued to grow, engagement deepened. The release of new features of the Engagement 360 and Engagement Tracker tools helped the Forum and its Partners better manage engagement and understand the most relevant opportunities to engage. Partners will have greater opportunities to be involved in an even larger number of initiatives and communities as the model evolves.

Complementing the partnership base, the Forum maintained a robust community of approximately 400 Global Innovators and Technology Pioneers. These members help the Forum and its Partners stay abreast of the latest emerging technologies and those innovations that are pivotal to industry transformation.

For example, the Technology Pioneers revealed how to equip workforces efficiently by leveraging emerging technologies and helped the Forum explore the risks and benefits of applying these technologies in the financial sector. Similarly, the Global Innovators supplied valuable insights related to the platforms’ work, launching the Global Collaboration Village, a metaverse platform that helps Partners and policy-makers understand the technological and business potential of virtual reality.

Complementing the engagement of business partners, the Forum works with and integrates a wide range of other stakeholders.

It collaborates with universities and academic experts and assimilates Global Future Councils, expert bodies across topics, in its work, managed through the Centre for the New Economy and Society. The Forum engages governments, international organizations and civil society in its activities, including in its initiatives and events, throughout the year, managed through the Centre for Regions, Trade and Geopolitics. It also involves media leaders and media organizations in its events and workshops and in relevant cases in its initiatives and expert councils, coordinated through the Global Communications Group.

International Business Council

The International Business Council (IBC) is a cross-industry, cross-regional group of 130 leading CEOs working to facilitate in-depth peer exchanges and drive collective action on world issues.

Since 2019, the community has steered progress on aligning corporate values and strategies with the UN Sustainable Development Goals. Considering the proliferation of voluntary standards of measurement, the IBC has promoted the adoption of the common metrics it created that allow consistent and comparable measurement of a business’s effects on its wider group of stakeholders. During the 2022- 2023 period, over 180 Forum Partner companies committed to embedding these metrics into their reporting materials, with more than 150 already reporting them, sending a strong signal to international capital markets and stakeholders that global issuers are advocating for worldwide alignment of sustainability disclosures. The Forum signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the International Financial Reporting Standards Foundation and the International Sustainability Standards Board to provide private-sector input and expertise into the development of international sustainability standards to accelerate adoption.

Chaired by Ana Botín, Group Executive Chair, Banco Santander, Spain since January 2023, the IBC has taken on the additional challenge of helping to accelerate the global energy transition by raising awareness of business leaders and policy-makers on the leadership case for energy demand management as a key lever for growth and decarbonization.

Klaus Schwab, Founder and Executive Chairman, World Economic Forum and Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission speaking in the Special Address by Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission session at the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting 2023 in Davos-Klosters, Switzerland, 17 January. Congress Centre - Congress Hall.  Copyright: World Economic Forum/Sikarin Fon Thanachaiary

Global Programming Group

The Forum is a platform where leaders gather to manage existing challenges and discuss global, industry and regional agendas. To support these dialogues, the Forum’s centres and multistakeholder communities need a trusted environment and engaging content.

The Global Programming Group (GPG) sits at the heart of the Forum’s institutional events and is responsible for their architecture, design, programmes and delivery. As such, the GPG is committed to cooperating with colleagues throughout the organization to unlock the richness of the work of the 10 centres and to give voice to it as part of an integrated framework of in-person and virtual gatherings.

With the pandemic receding, in-person events resumed their importance on the agenda. Over the year, the GPG led and delivered several events, including three global meetings: the 53rd World Economic Forum Annual Meeting, 14th Annual Meeting of the New Champions and the Sustainable Development Impact Meetings. In addition, the team provided strategic guidance and support for other Forum events, such as the Industry Strategy Meeting, the Forum’s live programming at COP27 and Business 20 (B20) and the inaugural Growth Summit.

Small Is Beautiful: SMEs as Drivers of Innovation and EmploymentSean Carr, Executive Director and Chief Executive Officer, Global Innovation Exchange (GIX), University of Washington, USA. Erika Kraemer Mbula, Professor of Economics, University of Johannesburg, South Africa. Jean Daniel LaRock, President and Chief Executive Officer, Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship (NFTE), USAHao Qian, European Bureau Chief, Sina Finance, Geneva, Sina.com, United KingdomWednesday 3 May 202312.30 - 13.00Stakeholder DialogueWorld Economic Forum Headquarters, Production StudioCopyright: World Economic Forum/Jean-Luc AuboeufThe Growth Summit: Jobs and Opportunity for All 2023 in Geneva, Switzerland
Source: ©️World Economic Forum/Pascal

Global Communications Group

The Global Communications Group is the central Forum team dedicated to sharing the work of the Forum with the public, the media and the Forum’s key stakeholders and constituents. The team helps the Forum’s centres, events, Partners and constituents share insights and amplify solutions to a global audience through its expert storytellers, publishers and content creators.

Through its public engagement channels, the Global Communications Group develops written, audio and visual content, as well as live production, to share the latest developments from events, the findings of key knowledge products, and solutions from longer-term initiatives. Key communication formats include the Agenda for written content; both social videos and longer form videos; the Radio Davos podcast; and newsletters, each providing analysis and opinions in an increasingly fragmented information space. The team is also responsible for coordinating the engagement of media leaders and media organizations in the Forum’s work.

This year, the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting 2023 attracted the largest global audience in the event’s history, with 2.5 million people watching its sessions online and many more following it on social media, registering 34 million views. Key developments at the event were communicated in real time with audiences around the world and across multiple formats. Also this year, the Forum released a new explainer series and award- winning documentaries. The Radio Davos podcast achieved 1 million downloads.

The Forum also continued to be a prominent social media publisher on LinkedIn, Instagram, TikTok, Facebook and Twitter, with almost 30 million followers across these sites. Social media posts attracted 750 million views on these platforms during the reporting year, covering areas from emerging technologies to healthcare, and geopolitics to the future of work.

The Forum’s work was also widely covered in global news media on issues like digital inclusion, the climate crisis, the future of jobs and Fourth Industrial Revolution technologies. Along with daily mentions in publications, including Reuters, Bloomberg and the AP, the Forum saw considerable increases in coverage in China, India, Japan and the United States.

Co-designed sessions with several outlets, including CNBC, CNN, Bloomberg and Time, also supported further reach of the Forum’s work.

Bryonie Guthrie, Content and Partnerships Lead, Strategic Intelligence, World Economic Forumhosting Strategic Intelligence: SDG Policy at the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting 2023 in Davos-Klosters, Switzerland, 18 January 2023. Ice Village - Dome A. Copyright: World Economic Forum/Michael CalabroSession ID: a0W68000006zJwZ

Technology and Digital Innovation

The Forum develops cutting-edge digital products to advance its mission and drive impact. Its goal is to provide the digital operating system for multistakeholder collaboration. The digital products provide the organizations and individuals who engage

with the Forum a seamless and efficient way to gain knowledge and strategic insights, develop and nurture connections, and drive collective action. They also provide the opportunity for anyone interested in the organization to learn about its work, engage where applicable and potentially become Partners or digital members.

The Forum’s core applications deliver world-class digital solutions for events and virtual interaction, initiatives and community engagement, intelligence and horizon scanning, and open innovation and solutions sourcing.

During the period, the Forum developed a new mobile app for events (Forum Live) and significantly improved the overall user experience and integration of the digital ecosystem. It also developed a solution to increase engagement and outreach for the most ambitious multistakeholder initiatives – Forum Spaces. Significant external initiatives also adopted this service that is based on leading-edge technology.

The Forum reached the milestone of more than 1 million registered users on Strategic Intelligence, the digital knowledge platform combining analysis from its broad community of experts

with artificial intelligence to provide insights on trends and strategic developments in over 300 topic areas. This service is available to the general public and provides the basis for the Forum’s Digital Membership programme. The period also saw the first exclusive virtual programme for digital members at the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting 2023. This marks key progress in broadening efforts to develop a fully virtual digital members’ community.

UpLink, the Forum’s open-innovation platform, continued to connect people- and planet-focused entrepreneurs with the experts, resources and funding they need to expand their operations and maximize their impact. Innovations sourced through a competition framework, called “innovation challenges”, helped identify high- quality submissions from entrepreneurial start-ups worldwide.

With its more than 60,000 registered users, the UpLink platform held almost 50 innovation challenges, contributing more than 5,300 solutions. In addition, UpLink’s community of Top Innovators, comprised of over 400 pioneering start-ups, raised almost $1 billion in combined funding since engaging with the platform.

The UpLink team continued to experiment with new content formats and, with its partners at the Global Plastic Action Partnership, published its first short documentary, Back to Zero, in 2022, which received a Webby Award, the premium honour for online content. UpLink’s newsletter reached an audience of almost 50,000 people.

Finance and Operations

During this reporting period, despite a challenging economic and geopolitical environment, Partnership and Membership revenue remained high at CHF 264 million, representing a 5% year-on- year increase, reflecting the high retention level of Partners and the growth associated with new Partners joining the Forum’s communities. The Forum had 845 partnerships at the end of fiscal year 2022-2023, marking an 8% year-on-year increase, while the retention rate among existing Partners rose from 85% to 88%, year-on-year.

Grants come predominantly from public institutions and foundations and continued to greatly accelerate the impact of the Forum’s initiatives. Direct funding increased by CHF 2.2 million over the period and amounted to roughly 12% of total revenue.

This year, the Forum reported progress related to environmental, social and corporate governance for the third year, in line with the Stakeholder Metrics. The metrics provide information on four pillars of the Forum’s reporting on its sustainable value creation: governance, the planet, people and prosperity.

During the period, the sustainability strategy was revisited to align it with the organization’s mission, the global operations of its locations and the events organized during the year. The Forum’s ISO 20121 certification on sustainable event management was also audited and confirmed during the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting 2023.

With a keen focus on sustainability and ethical investing, the Forum focused on integrating environmental, social and governance considerations into its investment strategies. It set ambitious targets for its investment portfolio to be compliant with Articles 8 and 9 of the European Union’s Sustainable Finance Disclosure Regulation.

These articles promote environmental and social characteristics in investment decisions and the consideration of sustainability risks: the Forum has set a target of 90% compliance. This proactive approach not only demonstrated that the Forum is committed to sustainable investing, but also positioned the organization as a leader in driving positive change in the financial industry.

In early 2023, the Forum completed the remodelling of the Cologny, Geneva headquarters to adapt to the future of the workplace. The objective was to rethink how to best use the space, how to interact more effectively using state-of-the-art technology (with a dedicated room to showcase the Global Collaboration Village in the metaverse) and how to increase capacity for meetings. Adjacent to the headquarters, Villa Mundi was opened to serve as a multifunctional space. These remodelled spaces, designed sustainably, will provide Forum communities with improved convening areas to better foster collaboration and create impact.

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