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News Release

World Economic Forum Announces Young Global Leaders for 2012

Maxwell Hall, Senior Media Manager, Tel.: +41 (0)79 329 3500 – maxwell.hall@weforum.org

  • The Forum has honoured 192 young leaders from 59 countries for their outstanding leadership, professional accomplishments and commitment to society
  • Of the selected young leaders, 37 are from North America
  • Young Global Leaders are selected from a variety of sectors such as business, government, academia, media, non-profit organizations and arts and culture, and from all regions of the world
  • Young Global Leaders engage in initiatives that address specific challenges of public interest with the objective of shaping a better future

Geneva, Switzerland, 6 March 2012 – The World Economic Forum has announced its Young Global Leaders (YGLs) for 2012.

The honour, bestowed each year by the Forum, recognizes up to 200 outstanding young leaders from around the world for their professional accomplishments, commitment to society and potential to contribute to shaping the future of the world. Past YGLs include Maria Bartiromo, Anchor, Closing Bell, and Anchor and Managing Editor, Wall Street Journal Report, CNBC, USA; David Cameron, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom; Esther Duflo, Professor of Economics, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, USA; Larry Page, Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer, Google, USA; Zhang Xin, Chief Executive Officer, SOHO China, People's Republic of China.

For 2012, the Forum has selected 192 YGLs from 59 countries and all sectors of society (including business, civil society, social entrepreneurs, politics and government, arts and culture, and opinion and media). The new class originates from East Asia (38), South Asia (19), Europe (46), Middle East and North Africa (15), sub-Saharan Africa (18), North America (37) and Latin America (19).

“In the last few years, the world has seen the biggest recession in almost a century and we now face daunting global challenges,” said Klaus Schwab, Founder and Executive Chairman of the World Economic Forum. “Recovery and innovation will require new, unique ideas and an environment where the best minds, ideas and leadership can thrive. The most important determinant of this will be how we use human talent. Within the World Economic Forum community, the Young Global Leaders represent the voice for the future and the hopes of the next generation. I am particularly proud of this year's honourees, who I believe will address the challenges we face in a meaningful way through fresh thinking and true multistakeholder engagement.”

Drawn from a pool of several thousand candidates, the 2012 YGLs were chosen by a selection committee, chaired by H.M. Queen Rania Al Abdullah of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan and they comprise respected international leaders from business, government and media.

The 2012 YGLs reflect different types of leadership in different parts of the world and society. Those from North America include, among others, Neil Blumenthal, Co-Founder and Co-Chief Executive Officer, Warby Parker, USA; Candy Chang, Artist and Co-Founder, Civic Center, USA; Cesar Conde, President, Univision Networks, USA; Scott Harrison, Founder and Chief Executive Officer, charity: water, USA; Valerie Keller, Founder and Chief Executive Officer, Veritas, USA; Binta Niambi Brown, Partner, Kirkland & Ellis, USA; Pardis Sabeti, Assistant Professor, Harvard FAS Center for Systems Biology, USA; and George Stroumboulopoulos, Broadcaster, Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, Canada.

“In an age of resource scarcity, our leaders must be global citizens,” said Valerie Keller, Founder and Chief Executive Officer, Veritas, USA. “The diversity of the YGL community spanning geographies, cultures and sectors uniquely embodies and empowers a ‘we’ beyond nation-states, an ‘us’ that represents and embraces the world. We’re pragmatic idealists with a hunger to harness our collective resources in service to humanity – and thanks to the Forum, we now have a powerful platform to cross-pollinate and to help scale solutions to social problems.”

Another recently selected YGL, Cesar Conde, President, Univision Networks, USA, commented: “This is a tremendous honor. At a time of unprecedented change and new challenges, as a new generation of business leaders, we are stepping forward to do our part,” said Cesar Conde, president, Univision Networks. “It is terrific to see young businesspeople around the world taking on some of the biggest issues of our times with creativity and relentless optimism. It is humbling and inspiring to be part of that global movement.”

A third honouree, Pardis Sabeti, Assistant Professor, Harvard FAS Center for Systems Biology, USA, responded as follows: “I am humbled and energized to become part of the World Economic Forum YGL community. It is a unique opportunity and responsibility to have a voice amongst those that can shape a positive direction for the future. I hope to gain perspective and to share my own as a scientist, a woman, and an Iranian-American.”

The 2012 honourees will become part of the broader Forum of Young Global Leaders community that currently comprises 713 outstanding individuals. The YGLs convene at an Annual Summit, which will be held this year in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, on 14-18 April. YGLs are actively engaged in the community, are integrated into events organized by the World Economic Forum, and organize events of their own, as well as launch and lead their own innovative initiatives and task forces. These activities enable YGLs to learn from and with each other; build knowledge and engender a better understanding of global challenges and trends, risks and opportunities; and further enhance their unique role as leaders within their own organizations, the World Economic Forum and the broader global community.

“The YGL experience is life-changing. It joins together this wildly impressive group of young leaders, with extraordinary minds and talents, who embrace the spirit of a global family and create this contagious motivation to make the world a better place. The YGL program gives us – the next generation of leaders – a critical forum within which to collaborate on global solutions to pressing global problems, ranging from poverty alleviation to human security. And it’s not just about talk. The YGL Community has delivered concrete results. It’s an honor to be a part of this community”, said Daniel Shapiro (YGL 2008), Founder and Director, Harvard International Negotiation Program, Harvard Law School, USA.

“One of the unique aspects of the YGL Community is that it is the first generation of leaders who are truly global citizens: they have all lived, studied and worked in different countries throughout their careers,” said David Aikman, Head of The Forum of Young Global Leaders. “They see themselves as being fundamentally interconnected and have the cross-cultural leadership skills to be successful in a globalized world. Thanks to the incredible diversity of the group, they are able to collaborate across complex systems and build informal coalitions to facilitate action on the biggest challenges facing the world today. This entrepreneurial approach to public good is the best way to move the world forward. We look forward to integrating the 2012 YGLs into our discussions and initiatives.” 

Notes to Editors

More information about the Forum of Young Global Leaders at http://www.younggloballeaders.org/
List of YGLs honoured in 2012
List of the YGL community
Visit our YGL YouTube channel at http://www.youtube.com/yglvoices
Follow us on Twitter at http://twitter.com/YGLvoices
Nominate a potential Young Global Leader through our website


The World Economic Forum is an international institution committed to improving the state of the world through public-private cooperation in the spirit of global citizenship. It engages with business, political, academic and other leaders of society to shape global, regional and industry agendas.

Incorporated as a not-for-profit foundation in 1971 and headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland, the Forum is independent, impartial and not tied to any interests. It cooperates closely with all leading international organizations (www.weforum.org).