Center for Governance and Sustainability

at the University of Massachusetts Boston

The WEF Process

The WEF process marks a departure  from the post-WWII planning process. 1  Whereas the 1940s process was government-led, the WEF process is a government/corporate hybrid undertaking with the corporate side in the driver’s seat. While the post-WWII planning process was driven by the major concerns to avoid a repetition of WWII and the Great Depression, the WEF's starting point was solely in the economic sphere, not as a reaction to military engagements in Iraq or Afghanistan.

The WEF took on the task of opening up a dialogue on the next phase of global governance with enthusiasm. The World Economic Forum secured the necessary financing for this undertaking from the Governments of Qatar, Singapore, Switzerland, and Tanzania.  It invited various specialized Davos-sponsored bodies, notably their Industry Partners, Young Global Leaders and Social Entrepreneurs sub-groups, to propose ideas. 2 They convened regional summits during 2009 and sponsored three country hearings 3  on global and regional governance. All the while, WEF coordinated some 60 crisis-defined expert panels to come up with specific, thematically focused recommendations. 4 The expert panels involved more than 700 experts completed their work in the fall of 2009. The final report was released in Doha on May 30-31, 2010. 5 The World Economic Forum estimated that one-third of the 1500 participants in the process were from the private sector. 6 WEF made the Global Redesign Initiative 7  a significant theme of the 2010 and 2011 Annual Meetings in Davos. The annual Davos retreat and WEF's various regional meetings provided an opportunity to “test [ideas] with ministers, CEOs, heads of NGOs and trade unions, leading academics and other members of the Davos community.” 8

For the 2012 Annual retreat, the World Economic Forum released their seventh edition of Global Risks. 9  In their measured Global Risk Landscape, the three most likely events were chronic fiscal imbalances, severe income inequality, and rising greenhouse gas emissions; the three most serious identified impact events were major systemic financial failure, the water supply crisis, and food shortage crisis. Reflecting this risk assessment, the agenda of the 2012 meeting included a continuing discussion about global governance and its many interrelated themes.

 

Related Ideas: 1994 process; Informal gatherings

The Readers' Guide welcomes comments with alternative examples or counter examples and commentary – critical or otherwise – of the above interpretation of the context of GRI project.

  • 1. ^ VII A 1 – 1944 process
  • 2. ^ Samans, Schwab, and Malloch-Brown introduction, pg 13. The specific question that were posed [to the Forum’s Global Agenda Councils, Industry Partner communities and Young Global Leader Task Forces] was: what would international cooperative structures look like in your field if they were designed today with contemporary circumstances and challenges in mind rather than those that prevailed in the mid-20th century?
  • 3. ^ One on United Nations reform in Switzerland, one on energy security governance in Qatar and a third one on Asia’s role in global governance in Singapore
  • 4. ^ The GRI project report has all sixty taskforce reports; the book version has only the summary reports from only twenty-nine.
  • 5. ^ "The 700 participants in Dubai delivered a critical message: the world needed to examine the basic operating systems that drive its economies, markets, and societies and aim for a 'fundamental reboot' to establish a fresh platform based on renewed trust, confidence and commitment to sustainability, social responsibility and ethical principles. This call to action led to the launch at the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting 2009 of the Global Redesign Initiative (GRI), the Forum’s wide-ranging effort to review the global economic and financial system and to look at current institutions and practices of global governance in light of the crisis to determine what should be done to achieve this reboot." The First Forty Years, pg 236.
  • 6. ^ Samans, Schwab, and Malloch-Brown introduction, pg 31.
  • 7. ^ The acronym for the Global Redesign Initiative, GRI, is used frequently by the World Economic Forum. This is rather curious. Since 1997, the Global Reporting Initiative, a joint undertaking initiated by UNEP and Ceres, has been using GRI as their organizational acronym. The Ceres/UNEP project has been developing sustainability reporting standards. For WEF, whose members argue strongly for intellectual property rights, it is a bit surprising that they misappropriated the UNEP/Ceres GRI acronym for their project on global governance.
  • 8. ^ GRI, Pg 5
  • 9. ^ Global Risks 2012 : Seventh Edition, A initiative of the Risk Response Network (World Economic Forum in collaboration with Marsh & McLennan Companies, Swiss Reinsurance Company, Wharton Center for Risk Management, University of Pennsylvania, and Zurick Financial Services, 2012, available on the web at http://reports.weforum.org/global-risks-2012/ (seen June 2012)

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