The World Economic Forum: A Timeline

African Business, May 2011 | Go to article overview

The World Economic Forum: A Timeline


1971: Klaus Schwab, chairs a gathering of 44o European business heads in Davos Switzerland and the concept that is to become the World Economic Forum is born.

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1973: At its third meeting, the European Management Forum as it was then called, endorses the Davos Manifesto which advocates a stakeholder approach and lays the foundation for the concept of corporate social responsibility.

1974: Following a range of turbulent global events, including the collapse of the Bretton Woods fixed exchange rate mechanism and escalating tensions in the Middle East, political leaders are invited for the first time. 1975: Davos goes global. Attendance increases to 86o participants. The Forum welcomes its first official delegation from a non-European country, Mexico.

1976: The European Management Forum introduces a system of membership, consisting of the 1,000 leading companies of the world. It organises the first Arab-European Business Cooperation Symposium in Switzerland. 1,500 senior executives, including over 400 from the Arab world, take part.

1979: The Forum's first roundtable outside Europe takes place in Washington DC.

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1979: The Forum is the first non-governmental institution to partner with China's economic development commissions; the Chinese have participated every year since then.

Regional meetings around the globe are added. The annual Global Competiveness Report is introduced.

Key ingredients of economic growth and prosperity are measured and compared across economies, providing policy makers and business leaders with a tool for formulating improved economic policies and institutional reforms.

1981: The Forum holds its first meeting in China and takes the first step to recruit members from the world's fast-growing and innovative small and medium-size enterprises.

1982: The first IGWEL (Informal Gathering of World Economic Leaders) is held. This closed-door, off-the-record meeting allows informal dialogue and permits participants to get to know each other, exchange ideas and work on ongoing issues and problems without the pressure of having to produce communiques at its conclusion.

US President Ronald Reagan sends a live message via satellite from Washington, marking the beginning of regular US government participation.

1984: Klaus Schwab invites India's Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi to meet business leaders at the Forum's headquarters in Geneva and the Forum convenes the first economic summit in New Delhi.

1986: Davos hosts a historic public meeting between Prime Minister Turgut Ozal of Turkey and Greek Prime Minister Andreas Papandreou.

Soviet premier Nikolai Ryzhkov addresses a business audience in the West for the first time through a satellite link from Moscow.

1987: West German Foreign Minister Hans-Dietrich Genscher urges participants to "give Gorbachev a chance", marking a turning point in the Cold War.

The Forum changes its name to the World Economic Forum and sets out to provide a platform for resolving international conflicts.

1989: North Korea and South Korea hold their first ministerial-level meetings and East German Prime Minister Hans Modrow and West German Chancellor Helmut Kohl meet to discuss German reunification and partnerships.

1992: South African President FW de Klerk meets Nelson Mandela and Chief Mangosuthu Buthelezi at the WEF annual meeting. Mandela chooses to makes his first speech on South Africa's economic future under the ANC.

1993: Foreign Minister Shimon Peres and PLO Chairman Yasser Arafat reach a draft agreement on Gaza and Jericho.

1994: The Forum reaches 1,000 members and the decision was taken to limit membership to this number.

1998: The Schwab Foundation for Social Entrepreneurship is established. Entrepreneurs engaged included Muhammad Yunus, winner of the Nobel Peace Prize 2006 and founder of microcredit institution the Grameen Bank. …

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