World Economic Forum Founder Schwab To Retire From Leadership Role

Klaus Schwab, the World Economic Forum’s creator and face for decades, will step down from executive leadership in the coming months, the organisation announced.

The WEF, which holds the annual conference of wealthy, famous, and important global elites at the luxurious Swiss ski resort of Davos, said late Tuesday that its 86-year-old founder would soon “transition from executive chairman to chairman of the board of trustees”.

The change would take effect before the next annual meeting, which is scheduled for January 2025.

The revelation that Schwab will stand down after more than half a century at the helm marks the culmination of the WEF’s protracted transformation, which began in 2015, from a “founder-managed organization to one where a president and managing board assume full executive responsibility,” the body stated.

The WEF did not specify who will officially take the helm. Borge Brende, a 58-year-old former Norwegian foreign minister, is the current president and the number-two executive after Schwab.

The Geneva-based forum, which employs over 800 people worldwide and generated 409 million Swiss francs ($447 million) in annual income in the previous fiscal year, stated that it was transforming from a “convening platform” to “the leading global institution for public-private cooperation”.

Networking showcase

Schwab was born in Ravensburg, Germany, on March 30, 1938. He attended Swiss universities and Harvard University in the United States, where he earned doctorates in engineering and economics, as well as more than a dozen honorary degrees.

He was a little-known management professor at the University of Geneva when he formed the European Management Forum, the WEF’s predecessor, in 1971.

The initial meeting apparently drew fewer than 500 attendees. Since then, the festival has grown to attract thousands of people annually.

Schwab then expanded the conclave by inviting top political and commercial executives, representatives from important non-governmental organizations, trade unions, and civil society, assembling a prestigious Rolodex as he transformed the event into a platform for networking and idea exchange.

Success spawned success throughout the years, as many of the world’s leaders and shakers competed for apres-ski socializing and panel debates in the Swiss Alps.

The previous edition in Davos in January drew more than 50 heads of state and government, including Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and Chinese Premier Li Qiang, as well as European Union chief Ursula von der Leyen, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, and NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg.

‘Davos Man’

New regional meetings have been added to the Davos program.

Last month, the WEF sponsored a summit in Riyadh amid worldwide emphasis on the Gaza conflict, which included Blinken, Palestinian President Mahmud Abbas, and foreign ministers and prime ministers from the Middle East and Europe.

The World Economic Forum insists that it “provides a global, impartial and not-for-profit platform for meaningful connection between stakeholders to establish trust, and build initiatives for cooperation and progress” .

Its purpose, according to its website, is “improving the state of the world”.

Meanwhile, critics have often claimed that WEF events serve as a safe haven for corporations to lobby governments without being held accountable.

The event has given rise to the concept of the “Davos Man,” which refers to an elite group of rich and often ultra-wealthy movers and shakers with worldwide clout and reach.

Schwab, a married father of two, and his organisation have long been the subject of conspiracy theories.

After referring to the first Davos conference following the Covid-19 epidemic shutdowns as “The Great Reset,” conspiracy theorists claimed he was the embodiment of a globalised elite attempting to enslave and even kill segments of mankind.

Disinformation has proliferated on social media, claiming that decisions were made in private Davos meetings to unleash illnesses and promote things like paedophilia and global starvation.

Elon Musk, X’s multibillionaire owner, also stated on the site in January that Schwab “wants to be emperor of Earth”.

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