The following sections provide four examples of initiatives applying the Forum’s unique impact methods to drive large-scale progress on critical public challenges and five selected meetings held in 2022-2023 to provide a platform for progress, cooperation and trust-building.
The World Economic Forum is the only organization in the world that takes a systemic view in everything it does. Involved in over 140 initiatives, the Forum works with all stakeholders of global society. A few examples of the direct, tangible impact achieved follow.
The EDISON Alliance aims to advance digital inclusion by providing affordable access to digital services to 1 billion people by 2025.
An estimated 2.7 billion people worldwide do not have access to the internet. The EDISON Alliance seeks to accelerate the delivery of digital services to these unserved and underserved populations, inspire concrete commitments to its 1 Billion Lives Challenge, and demonstrate that universal digital inclusion is an achievable goal.
The alliance is an unprecedented collaboration between the information and communication technologies community and the health, education and finance sectors, all committed to driving systems change. Launched in January 2021, the alliance comprises 50 CEOs and ministers and 100 organizations across sectors and industries.
To date, the EDISON Alliance has recorded a positive effect on the lives of 454 million people through 250 initiatives in 90 countries, representing 45% of the 2025 target. Breaking down the impact achieved in the three focus areas of finance, education and health, of the 454 million people benefited by this initiative, 280 million had improved access to digital finance and banking, close to 20 million reported improved access to education (e-learning), 90 million had easy and effective access to digital healthcare facilities and services and more than 64 million disposed of better digital infrastructure.
This year, the EDISON Alliance published its first annual impact report; expanded the Global Lighthouse Network, a public-private partnership platform to support governments in achieving their digital inclusion agenda, to include additional countries and new regions; launched the Initiatives Marketplace, an online catalogue showcasing partner initiatives to scale, as well as opportunities to partner and coordinate action collectively; and supported the successful delivery of several high-impact initiatives.
For example, in India, American Tower Corporation and Apollo Telemedicine Networking Foundation together launched five digital dispensaries accessible to 200 villages in four districts, offering healthcare services to nearly 250,000 people who had not previously been served. Since its launch, the initiative has brought the cost of service to less than $6 on average.
The Forum’s Reskilling Revolution platform aims to provide 1 billion people with better education, skills and economic opportunities by 2030. Since its launch in January 2020, the initiative has reached over 350 million people worldwide, providing learners and workers with the education, reskilling and upskilling opportunities needed to prepare for tomorrow’s economy and society.
Technological shifts, geo-economic pressures, demographic changes and the green transition are creating structural churn across jobs and skills. According to the Forum’s Future of Jobs Report 2023, almost a quarter of jobs (23%) are expected to change in the next five years and over 40% of the core skills needed in the average job are also expected to change. Preparing learners and workers to navigate and thrive through this disruption is key to ensuring economic prosperity, social mobility and societal stability.
To realize this vision with urgency, more than 60 CEOs, over 20 governments and a broader network of approximately 350 organizations are driving investment into education, reskilling and upskilling through the Reskilling Revolution. Supported by the Forum’s Centre for the New Economy and Society, together these champions take stock of changing patterns in jobs and skills, source commitments towards reskilling and upskilling from a wide range of business and government stakeholders, and co-create solutions and frameworks, such as a global skills taxonomy. The initiative also supports national progress through a global network of Skills Accelerators, public-private collaborations to drive new financing, revitalize policy instruments, measurements and metrics, and improve skills delivery mechanisms, enabled by the Skills Accelerator Playbook.
The initiative also addresses the needs of the next generation through its Education 4.0 approach. Fourteen national governments, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Brazil, Cambodia, Georgia, Greece, India, Mongolia, Nigeria, Oman, Pakistan, South Africa, Turkey and the United Arab Emirates, are currently part of the Skills and Education Accelerators Network, while Finland and Singapore serve as Knowledge Partners.
This year, the initiative’s reach to over 350 million people came through 110 commitments made by businesses, governments and the Global Country Accelerators Network. It also launched an Education 4.0 taxonomy, presenting a comprehensive set of skills, attitudes and values to prepare young learners for well-being in the economies of the future. It selected 16 education “lighthouse” case studies as examples of the most innovative and forward-looking education initiatives and launched a guide for organizations to adopt a “skills-first” approach for attracting, hiring, developing and redeploying talent. Reskilling Revolution champions also agreed on an ambitious strategy to reach over 600 million learners and workers by 2025.
The First Movers Coalition seeks to harness the purchasing power of leading global companies to unlock the potential of the emerging technologies needed to decarbonize the world by 2050. By this date, 50% of the reductions required for net-zero emissions must come from technologies not yet available on a wide scale. The coalition is marshalling leading companies to apply their purchasing power to create guaranteed early markets for advanced technologies to scale up the next generation of net-zero solutions for carbon-intensive sectors.
The coalition’s 82 members made a total of 103 commitments in at least one sector and participated in collective activities to push forward net-zero goals. The coalition works with governments and existing initiatives to build on and complement ongoing efforts to decarbonize industries. These partnerships include 12 Government Partners committed to rapidly expanding emerging technologies; Implantation Partners providing reporting and analytics to measure progress made; Knowledge Partners supporting the formulation of sectoral commitments as well as the sector working groups assisting members in commitment delivery; and, finally, the Design Committee consisting of leading organizations that offer input into the design of the sectoral commitments and amplify impact by sharing their expertise and networks.
Today, the First Movers Coalition represents an unprecedented, credible demand signal of over $12 billion for clean technologies and solutions that are necessary to decarbonize hard-to-abate sectors. It is a truly global programme, with members currently spanning 22 countries on four continents. This includes seven members based in developing economies (Brazil, India and Mexico). The coalition membership is also diverse in terms of value chain coverage: each sector has members from the upstream and downstream segments of the value chain. The price premium is thus equally shared among industry players, thereby reducing the burden on any single company or economy.
Cross-sector collaboration enabled by the First Movers Coalition is already taking place: two global companies worked together to spur demand and trigger more than $2 billion-worth of investment in modern, low-carbon aluminium rolling mills, the first of their kind built in the United States in 40 years. These mills will serve as examples of modern, sustainable manufacturing.
Another coalition member broke ground on a $50 million recycling centre in Ulsan, South Korea, scheduled to begin operations in 2024. With an annual capacity of 100,000 tonnes, the centre is expected to reduce the company’s carbon emissions by 420,000 tonnes per year. The addition of this recycling centre will increase the company’s recycling capacity in the country by more than 20% and enhance its capability to process different types of aluminium scrap for customers not just in South Korea, but worldwide.
Business and economic development thrive on confidence, predictability and transparency. Red tape, cumbersome paper-based procedures and the inconsistent treatment of goods at borders create uncertainty, delays and additional costs. Modernizing border procedures encourages trade, with smaller businesses standing to gain most from easier access to international markets. Predictable, efficient processes also save governments’ time and resources, while safeguarding borders and revenue collection. Guided by the World Trade Organization’s Trade Facilitation Agreement, Global Alliance for Trade Facilitation projects work through public-private partnership to achieve measurable impacts, unlocking the potential of developing countries and least-developed countries.
The alliance is active in some 30 countries. To date, alliance initiatives have achieved an initial tenfold return on investment.
Every alliance project stems from a joint recognition of the need to target identified obstacles to trade and a willingness to work together to eliminate them.
Supported by the alliance, Ecuador, the world’s biggest banana exporter and a major producer of other crops, such as cut flowers and cocoa, adopted the International Plant Protection Convention ePhyto Solution in 2022, replacing cumbersome, manual procedures. This piecemeal process undermined food security while compromising the Government’s ambitions to bolster export volumes. In Ecuador, a dramatic reduction in processing time is projected to save $6.2 million a year.
The alliance supported Mozambique in expediting imports of rapid test kits for HIV/AIDS and malaria and other medical goods, collaborating with global business partners Abbott Laboratories, Deutsche Post DHL and Agility. The alliance also partnered with UNICEF to support the Government’s efforts to digitalize and streamline the imports of routine vaccines, including those for diphtheria, tetanus, hepatitis B, pneumonia, meningitis, measles, rubella and polio, reducing wait times of between two and four weeks for import approvals. Encouraged by their collaboration in Mozambique, UNICEF and the alliance announced a global partnership, aiming to help UNICEF deliver critical supplies quickly and efficiently to vulnerable communities.
The trade facilitation delivered by the alliance lowers the time and cost of trade, helping to make businesses and countries more competitive, driving economic growth, creating jobs and ultimately reducing poverty.
The 53rd Annual Meeting was held in January 2023, under the theme, “Cooperation in a Fragmented World”. More than 2,700 leaders from 130 countries engaged in 480 sessions. This meeting saw a record number of women leaders, and more than 500 people participated in the inaugural Global Collaboration Village, the first global, purpose-driven metaverse platform.
At the meeting, UN Secretary-General António Guterres called for urgent action on the global economic crisis, climate, income and gender inequality, US–China relations, the Russia–Ukraine war and the lingering effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. World leaders, including German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, expressed solidarity with Ukraine and used the platform to outline their respective plans to make Europe the home of clean tech and innovation. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and First Lady Olena Zelenska both spoke at the meeting, urging world leaders to support Ukraine’s peace plan. Chinese Vice-Premier Liu He declared his country open to the world after three years of pandemic isolation and emphasized international cooperation and economic stability.
The Forum hosted dialogues at the meeting, including six Informal Gathering of World Economic Leader sessions covering such topics as geopolitical cooperation, the global economy and the energy transition. Eight Country Strategy Dialogues took place with heads of state and senior ministers, focusing on growth and investment in the European Union, India, Indonesia, Japan, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Spain and Tanzania. Leaders were also brought together to strengthen dialogue in the Western Balkans and address the political crisis in Myanmar.
Several communities were created at the meeting for diverse groups, including the Climate Governance Initiative community of experts and ASEAN Leaders for Just Energy Transitions. A number of initiatives were announced, including the Digital ID Initiative and a proof of concept for the world’s first battery passport, launched by the Global Battery Alliance. Nine clusters joined the Transitioning Industrial Clusters towards Net Zero initiative, and the Global Water Initiative launched a water innovation ecosystem. A Memorandum of Understanding was signed between the World Economic Forum and the Director- General of the 28th UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP28) for the Forum to mobilize private-sector support to help deliver on the COP28 goals. Principles launched at the meeting included 10 Guiding Principles for Racial and Ethnic Equity and the Global Principles on Digital Safety, which translate international human rights into the digital context. Additionally, partnerships were announced with the Wellcome Trust to document the impact of the climate crisis on global public health, and with the University of Exeter to support the biospheres of the Arctic and Antarctic.
The Sustainable Development Impact Meetings held in September 2022 saw more than 800 leaders from government, business, non-profits and academia advance cooperation in areas as diverse as climate action, industry decarbonization and social resilience. At the heart of the meetings were a series of 55 peer-to-peer dialogues designed to help advance the work of communities, make progress on the Sustainable Development Goals and build momentum on specific issues ahead of the 27th UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP27) and the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting 2023 in January.
The meetings addressed four areas, each underscored by the challenge of responding to climate change, namely: increasing climate action; accelerating industry transformation; shaping resilient economies and societies; and advancing regional and global cooperation. Underscoring the high-level of engagement, more than 400 business leaders and 80 public figures, including four heads of state and government, five heads of international organizations and 21 foreign affairs ministers, participated.
A number of measures were agreed and initiatives launched during the meetings. The first ministerial meeting of the High Ambition Coalition to End Plastic Pollution was held; Ecuador became the first Latin American country to join the Forum’s Global Plastic Action Partnership; the Forum signed a letter of intent with the UN Food and Agriculture Organization to strengthen collaboration on tackling the global food crisis; the First Movers Coalition launched its Finance Pillar; the Food Innovation Hubs network was created; and a report produced by the Climate Trade Zero initiative presented 25 key climate technologies for trade ministers to prioritize and advance climate action.
In addition, the Education 4.0 Alliance aligned on a framework to identify innovative collaborations between the private sector and schools and launched a call for Education 4.0 Lighthouses. Building on the findings of the Global Gender Gap Report 2023, leaders identified paths to restore women’s labour force participation and reinforce the positive momentum of women’s representation in senior leadership.
Sector transition strategies were launched to accelerate decarbonization in the steel, aluminium and ammonia industries, aligned with 1.5°C-compliant strategies backed by 60 companies from multiple sectors. The Forum, International Energy Agency and other partners launched the Cost of Capital Observatory to foster clean energy projects in developing economies. And UpLink, the open innovation platform of the World Economic Forum, announced the winners of the Innovative Funds for our Future challenge, 17 investment funds with a portfolio focusing on start-up and scale-up ventures that strive to advance the Sustainable Development Goals.
The Industry Strategy Meeting 2023 in March was designed to explore and accelerate “Responsible Industry Transformation in a Complex World”. It brought chief strategy officers together from more than 20 industry communities for the first such inperson event since 2019. The findings and outcomes from the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting 2023 in Davos-Klosters provided key inputs into the meeting.
The meeting reinforced focus areas and honed the core industry agenda for the year ahead. Participants emphasized the following priorities:
All the sessions centred on driving the industry agendas from discussion to action to accelerate the Forum centres’ existing initiatives and incubate new collaborations. The strategy officers identified next steps for several existing efforts, including the First Movers Coalition and Stakeholder Capitalism. Insights from the meeting will inform the scope and direction of work of the Forum’s industry communities and centres.
At a time of heightened economic uncertainty, the Forum’s first Growth Summit brought over 400 leaders together in Geneva in May to examine the new context for growth and chart a future of growth that is resilient, sustainable and inclusive. Experts were divided about the prospects of a recession in 2023, as noted in the Chief Economists Outlook launched at the meeting.
Trends expected to shape growth most profoundly in the coming year included geo-economics and the changing geography of supply chains, the rapid advancement and adoption of technology, including generative artificial intelligence, and stronger industrial policy – especially measures to enable greener growth and the energy transition. The localization and diversification of supply chains are expected to create a new geography of growth, new jobs and opportunities for small and medium-sized enterprises and new entrants.
Although the global movements of goods, people, services, technology and ideas remain at the heart of growth, future economic growth is needed to address inequality, resilience and the climate crisis, along with productivity and competitiveness. The findings will be integrated into the Forum’s framework on the future of growth.
The summit helped advance more than 20 high-impact initiatives focusing on areas as diverse as education, health, trade, and reskilling and upskilling.
The Trade and Labour Initiative was launched to improve worker standards and human rights in global supply chains, gathering trade and labour leaders, business leaders and human rights experts. Members of the Good Work Alliance published the Good Work Toolkit and set new targets to promote, among other things, fairness on wages and technology, while the Government of Morocco established a Jobs Accelerator.
A workforce health initiative was launched, aiming to improve employee health. The Zero Health Gaps Pledge engages more than 60 organizations to advance health equity through their core operations, investments and strategies.
Nigeria and Mongolia joined the Reskilling Revolution, establishing Skills and Education Accelerators, while the Government of the United Arab Emirates signed an agreement to globally expand its reskilling activities between 2023 and 2025 to reach 600 million people.
The Government of Kenya launched a Gender Parity Accelerator, joining a network of 14 countries working to advance women’s economic participation and leadership, ensure pay equity and prepare women for the future of work, while a Women’s Health in the Workplace coalition was launched with the aim of identifying activities that employers can pursue to provide better support and care for women at their place of work.
Over 1,500 world leaders gathered in Tianjin, People’s Republic of China on 27-29 June 2023 for the first in-person World Economic Forum Annual Meeting of the New Champions since 2019. The meeting, opened by Chinese Premier Li Qiang, brought together five heads of government, over 130 public figures and 800 business leaders including 100 Global Innovators, as well as international organization and civil society representatives and academics. They reflected on the complex, interconnected global challenges of the past four years and proposed solutions to advance dialogue, innovation and collaboration.
During the meeting held under the theme, “Entrepreneurship: The Driving Force of the Global Economy”, the participants reiterated the need to deepen cooperation on key areas such as climate change and trade. The Forum launched or boosted 25 high-impact initiatives to promote ongoing collaboration, and shared new insights on trade and investment; climate action, the energy transition and nature protection; emerging technologies, innovation and entrepreneurship; and the future of jobs, skills, health and equity.
Specifically, the participants examined ways to navigate trade tensions and find a balance between strategic competition and cooperation to manage global challenges. In this area, they advanced the dialogue on encouraging stronger regional integration and de-risking supply chains. Additionally, a white paper on carbon competitiveness called for trade policy coherence that supports the net-zero transition.
Amid other featured initiatives on climate action, the Airports of Tomorrow project was launched to harness the power of new technologies in pursuit of net-zero aviation. More than 50 CEOs joined the initiative. China affirmed its support for a World Trade Organization agreement for ocean sustainability, and committed to planting and conserving 70 billion trees as part of 1t.org. The Fostering Effective Energy Transition 2030 Edition called for a speedier, more inclusive shift to renewable energy.
How to exploit emerging and advancing technologies for success while managing their risks was another core topic. New papers explored the top emerging technologies of 2023, as well as how small and medium-sized enterprises can use technologies to drive innovation and growth. The Forum’s AI Governance Alliance further examined designing and implementing responsible artificial intelligence frameworks that increase the benefits of generative AI while managing the challenges.
The meeting focused also on lessons and practices to address the persistent skills, gender, technology and entrepreneurship gaps. Progress in this area was made to expand the Reskilling Revolution by engaging new businesses and educators from Asia. Overall, the meeting renewed momentum for innovation and enterprise to drive growth and a more equitable, sustainable and resilient global economy.