Klaus Schwab was one of the first to recognize that businesses, in an increasingly globalized and interconnected world, have a unique economic and social responsibility to society, says Liz Mohn, Vice Chair of the Bertelsmann Stiftung's executive board.
In the early 1970s, Klaus Schwab developed his concept of the multistakeholder approach in which all stakeholders are to be served by an enterprise aiming to ensure long-term success. This approach, he has argued, demands that bridges be built betwen business, policymakers and civil society – and across national borders.
According to a statement released by the Bertelsmann Stiftung announcing the prize, in founding the World Economic Forum, Schwab created a unique platform to promote dialog between business, political and civil society leaders on urgent issues challenging the world today. By implementing the multistakeholder approach, Schwab was far ahead of his time. The World Economic Forum in Geneva – now an internationally recognized organization with offices in New York, Peking and Tokyo – plays a key role in raising awareness of the changing expectations of businesses and their role in society. "Klaus Schwab understands better than most how to bring together people of the most diverse backgrounds to shape together a rapidly changing world," says Liz Mohn.
Klaus Schwab's leadership has brought about several key initiatives involving public-private cooperation have that have resulted in the formulation of concrete solutions to trenchant problems. The World Economic Forum, for example, was where the UN Global Compact was called to life with then-UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, who received the Reinhard Mohn Prize in 2013. The UN Global Compact is today the world's largest network of changemakers committed to responsible business. The World Economic Forum has also been the catalyst for public-private initiatives with broad impact such as the Global Fund to fight Aids, tuberculosis and malaria, the Grow Africa partnership and the Gavi vaccine alliance, which has vaccinated more than 200 million children worldwide.
In 1998, Klaus Schwab and his wife Hilde established the Schwab Foundation for Social Entrepreneruship in 1998. At the time, addressing social challenges with entrepreneurial means was an underappreciated idea. Together, Klaus Schwab and his wife were instrumental in promoting the concept of social entrepreneurship throughout and beyond Europe.