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History

In 1971, during the first phase of our development, the Forum established itself as a not-for-profit foundation, promoting stakeholder responsibility, the concept that companies, in addition to generating economic prosperity, have a responsibility towards society and nature.

During the second phase, the Forum established sustained communities, convening top political and business leaders alongside representatives of the world’s leading non-governmental organizations, trade unions and civil society, as well as a vibrant community of youth and social innovators. Today, for example, through its Global Shapers Hubs, present in over 500 cities in more than 150 countries around the world, the Forum combines a global and local approach to community engagement.

In the third phase, the Forum added research and insight development capabilities to support a stronger foundation of data, knowledge and debate for our constituents and the wider public. Today, we published over 100 reports and white papers. They are written together with global experts in our communities to serve as thought-provoking input into policy discussions.

In the fourth phase, we created collaboration platforms, enabling all stakeholders of global society to work together to find common solutions to global issues. In 2023, we combined these platforms into 10 distinct centres: Advanced Manufacturing and Supply Chains; Cybersecurity; Energy and Materials; Financial and Monetary Systems; Fourth Industrial Revolution; Health and Healthcare; Nature and Climate; New Economy and Society; Regions, Trade and Geopolitics; and Urban Transformation.

Today, our work in these 10 centres spans over 130 initiatives and provides frameworks for our Partners and constituents to take action and generate impact. These initiatives include the Reskilling Revolution, which aims to provide 1 billion people with better education and skills by 2030; the EDISON Alliance, which is focused on providing affordable access to digital services to 1 billion people by 2025; and 1t.org, which has the goal of conserving, restoring and growing 1 trillion trees by 2030. Our work and the strategic collaboration we enable helps improve the lives and livelihoods of millions of people around the globe.

Looking ahead, we continue to deepen our collaboration with business, government, civil society and other stakeholders to strengthen the impact of our work, and broaden access to our endeavours through our digital platforms. The power of human ingenuity, entrepreneurship, innovation and cooperation are central to our mission. The complex challenges the world faces need a forum for rigorous and respectful dialogue between and among leaders who have different beliefs and viewpoints, where diversity of thought is respected and all voices can be heard. Achieving this mission is made possible by all our stakeholders, who come together to find common ground and seize opportunities for positive change. Together, we can improve the state of the world.

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