Youth Perspectives

Meet the 2019 Class of Young Global Leaders

Costa Rica's President Carlos Alvarado Quesada attends the World Economic Forum (WEF) annual meeting in Davos, Switzerland, January 22, 2019

Costa Rica's President Carlos Alvarado Quesada - pictured here at Davos this year - is among 2019's Young Global Leaders Image: REUTERS/Arnd Wiegmann

Mariah Levin
Executive Director, beVisioneers: The Mercedes Benz Fellowship
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Youth Perspectives

More than 800 young leaders are working together to improve the state of the world.

The impact

The Forum of Young Global Leaders (YGLs) brings together enterprising, socially minded men and women under the age of 40, who work together to address some of the world’s most complex challenges. More than 800 leaders from all walks of life operate as a force for good to overcome barriers that stand in the way of global progress on significant social issues.

Drive with your mind

This paralysed man can drive a Formula 1 car with his mind thanks to a Young Global Leader


More broadly, the Young Global Leaders community is working towards five collective goals to achieve by 2021. These include leading efforts to conserve land and water, connecting refugees to the global economy, and addressing health issues experienced by billions around the world.

By the end of the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting 2019 in Davos-Klosters, the community reported multiple achievements, including:

• A partnership with UNHCR – The UN Refugee Agency and the University of Oxford to invest in the leadership and entrepreneurial capacity of refugee and host communities in Kakuma, Kenya

• A partnership to expand efforts at the intersection of food security and economic opportunity with Gastromotiva, led by YGL Alumni David Hertz, and the World Food Programme

• An $80 million grant launched by Olivia Leland and Co-Impact to improve livelihoods of 9 million people in emerging markets

2019 also marked the fifth year of the Circulars Awards, an initiative of the World Economic Forum and the Forum of Young Global Leaders, in collaboration with Accenture Strategy. The award offers recognition to individuals and organizations making notable contributions to the circular economy in the private and public sectors and society.

Over the past five years, more than 1,500 companies, organizations and governments have improved the circularity of their business models through this initiative. This year Ecoware, a company founded and led by YGL Rhea Mazumdar Singhal, was a finalist.

"Becoming a YGL wasn't an award for past accomplishments, but an invitation to start a new journey committed to helping make the world a better place."
Rajiv Pant

What's the challenge?

Countless young leaders are making enormous contributions in tackling the world’s most complex challenges. The goal of the YGL community is to fill an existing global gap, creating a sought-after peer network that allows each member to drive each other to do more and be more.

Our approach

The mission of the Forum of Young Global Leaders is to create a dynamic community of exceptional young people from around the world with the vision, courage and influence to drive positive change. The community creates experiences for next-generation leaders that help to enhance their skills, broaden their world view and drive innovative solutions.

Its world-class programme offers executive education courses at leading universities, summits around the world, group expeditions to experience major global issues first-hand, and opportunities to collaborate and test ideas with a network of peers. Through the convening power of the World Economic Forum, they work collaboratively to address global issues that require accelerated and collective mobilization.

How can you get involved?

Becoming a Young Global Leader is a remarkable opportunity for young people, and a significant commitment. Each new class embarks on a five-year leadership journey that mobilizes their collective talents and accelerates action aimed at tackling societal, political and environmental challenges. The goal is to create transformative experiences for next-generation leaders that enhance their skills, broaden their world view and lead to groundbreaking initiatives.

You can help support, finance and grow the community of Young Global Leaders, empowering the next generation to achieve more together for the future of our world than they could separately.

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David Moinina Sengeh – David Sengeh is the first national Chief Innovation Officer of his country, Sierra Leone, and also the African continent. He heads the recently formed Directorate for Science, Technology, and Innovation and serves as an adviser to the president of Sierra Leone. A graduate of MIT and Harvard Universities, David focused his academic work on biomechatronics and invented technology to improve the lives of people with physical disabilities. He is a youth advocate and innovator across industries.

Katherine Maher – Katherine Maher is the Chief Executive Officer and Executive Director of the Wikimedia Foundation. Her expertise, at the intersection of technology, human rights and democracy make her a voice in-demand on pressing issues related to data access, privacy and governance. Over the course of her leadership of the Wikimedia Foundation, Katherine has become one of the leading advocates of disseminating free and accurate knowledge digitally.

Qian Liu – Qian Liu is an influential economist and business executive. As Managing Director of The Economist Group in Greater China, she has deep knowledge of the Chinese economy, understands both China and the West very well, and has shown exceptional ability to bridge the two in the age of China rising and new globalization. She is also a prominent advocate for gender equality in China, and introduces cutting edge global economic research on gender, and promotes intelligent public debates to achieve social progress.

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The views expressed in this article are those of the author alone and not the World Economic Forum.

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