Gütersloh, June 16, 2016. "We need entrepreneurs who contribute to the common good," said Liz Mohn, presenting the award. "Prof. Klaus Schwab was one of the first to recognize that, in light of globalization and our increasingly networked world, businesses have a special economic and social responsibility to society. Foresight, a clear adherence to values and outstanding diplomatic skills are the qualities that he uses to realize his vision of a better world. The Bertelsmann Stiftung is also honoring him as a bridge-builder between the political arena, business community and civil society – across cultural and national borders."By the beginning of the 1970s, Schwab had already developed his approach, according to which businesses need to assume social responsibility and consider the interests of all social groups – from employees, customers and suppliers to society at large. When implementing his approach he has always emphasized dialogue and an exchange of knowledge and ideas. With the World Economic Forum, he created a unique platform for addressing the global challenges of our time. He has thus been successful in putting highly topical subjects such as globalization or, most recently, digitization on the forum's agenda. "Prof. Klaus Schwab has shown how politics, business and society can set their compass in the direction of a shared understanding of a better future," emphasized Aart De Geus, chairman and CEO of the Bertelsmann Stiftung, in his remarks.
Many notable initiatives in which companies work together with policy makers and civil society to implement solutions to social problems have come into being as a result of Schwab's ideas and efforts. The World Economic Forum was, for example, the birthplace of the UN Global Compact, which was first announced there by Kofi Annan, then secretary-general of the United Nations and recipient of the 2013 Reinhard Mohn Prize. Today, the UN Global Compact is considered the world's most extensive network for promoting responsible entrepreneurship. The World Economic Forum was also a key catalyst for the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, the smallholder initiative Grow Africa, and the vaccine alliance Gavi, which has vaccinated more than 200 million children around the globe since it was first established. These examples show the degree to which the forum has succeeded in transforming cooperation among politics, business and civil society into effective partnerships.
Schwab has also facilitated numerous historic meetings. At the World Economic Forum's annual conference in 1989, for example, then German Chancellor Helmut Kohl met with Hans Modrow, chairman of East Germany's Council of Ministers, to discuss Germany's reunification. The meeting between Nelson Mandela and then South African President Frederik Willem de Klerk in 1992 was a milestone in South Africa's political transformation process.
Under Prof. Schwab's leadership, the World Economic Forum is currently concentrating on examining the political, social and economic consequences of the Fourth Industrial Revolution (known in Germany as "Industrie 4.0"). Prof. Schwab will be using the prize money to fund further research in the area of technological change, with a focus on the increasing fusion of the physical, digital and biological worlds and the subsequent implications for individual identities and society at large. The results of this research will be made available to the public.
About the Reinhard Mohn Prize:
The Reinhard Mohn Prize is given in memory of the Bertelsmann Stiftung's founder, Reinhard Mohn († October 2009). It is awarded annually to an internationally renowned individual who has played a key role in developing forward-looking solutions to social and political challenges. To award the prize, a global search is carried out to identify innovative approaches and exemplary solutions to challenges that are of critical importance to Germany's future. This year's prize is dedicated to "Responsible Entrepreneurship."
About the Bertelsmann Stiftung:
The Bertelsmann Stiftung is committed to ensuring that everyone in society is given a chance to participate. It executes projects in the areas of education, democracy, social affairs, health, culture and business. Through its civic engagement, it wants to encourage others to support their own communities as well. Founded by Reinhard Mohn in 1977 as a registered charity, the Bertelsmann Stiftung is majority shareholder of Bertelsmann SE & Co. KGaA. Structured as a private operating foundation, it is politically nonpartisan and works independently of Bertelsmann's corporate operations.