• COVID-19 has highlighted the fact that our previous systems were neither equitable nor sustainable.
  • The crisis also presents an opportunity to reset and work together towards a fairer, greener future.
  • The World Economic Forum's Young Global Leaders are coming together to reaffirm our commitment to protect our shared future.

If there is one truth that has been illuminated by the COVID-19 pandemic, it is that our previous systems were neither equitable nor sustainable. And if there is one silver lining in the disruption and devastation, it is that the crisis brought an opportunity to recalibrate society at the service of broader humanity and the planet.

It is more pertinent than ever that we continue our fight to improve the state of world. As such, the World Economic Forum has launched a new initiative – The Great Reset – in commitment to solving the current societal, economic and environmental issues our world is facing. Through mobilising our incredible group of leaders, each a pioneer in their respective fields, we seek to reset how governments, industries and organisations at large craft a joint future.

The picture isn’t as bleak as it sounds. In the 25 years prior to setting the Sustainable Development Goals, we nearly halved the number of people living in extreme poverty and vaccinated 80% of one-year olds. We have shown that joint commitments – across sectors, regions, societies – can create a more equitable world.

However, COVID-19 has threatened our progress. A drop in routine childhood immunisation, driven by interruptions to health systems, is likely to lead to a higher number of deaths than the virus itself across some continents. The World Bank estimates an additional 70-100 million people will be pushed into extreme poverty due to the pandemic. While the skies above industrial cities in China were clearing in April, pollution levels have now rebounded to levels higher than pre-crisis.

But we can choose a different path.

Great Reset - Klaus Schwab - World Economic Forum

What if we treated this period as an inflection point in the transition towards more balanced and compassionate workplaces where work-life balance is the norm, not a suggestion? An opportunity to mend political fractures and mitigate violence that result from growing populism? A chance to pivot towards a nature-based economy which prioritises the human relationship with nature? During the height of global lockdowns, we experienced a 17% reduction in CO2 emissions, an indication of how dramatically and quickly we could shift the threat of human behaviour to nature were we to imagine green alternatives to current production and energy systems.

The Forum of Young Global Leaders supports a comprehensive Great Reset – a chance to act together towards a fairer, greener future. This August, we are bringing together 500 exceptionally dynamic, industrious and socially driven minds to navigate and lead us through these challenging times with a three-part methodology:

  • Highlighting and celebrating best-practice innovation. While the world waits for a solution, Young Global Leaders are finding innovative ways to combat the pandemic. From using Artificial Intelligence to track the spread of the virus, to developing ICU pods to support over-packed hospitals, to mobilising vulnerable communities to practice prevention methods, YGLs have been at the forefront of tackling misinformation, providing scalable solutions and ensuring that even the most at-risk have the tools and capabilities to protect their communities.
  • Distilling leadership lessons. At the 2020 Annual Meeting, a new multi-year partnership between Accenture, the Forum of Young Global Leaders and the Global Shapers Community was launched to help organisations and individuals cultivate environments in which responsible leadership can flourish. The creation of the programme was informed by a joint research report, which highlights the need for leaders to deliver value in three key areas: organisational performance, continuous innovation, sustainability and trust. The Responsible Leadership Programme aims to equip YGLs and Shapers with the skills, attitudes and capabilities required to lead responsibly amidst unprecedented global challenges.
  • Driving inclusive action. Promoting open conversations and solutions that bring in everyone must be a priority to ensure no one is left behind. In the Kakuma refugee camp, a group of Young Global Leaders have focused on advancing access to education and skills, internet and viable work to support the community and participate in the global economy. Working with the World Economic Forum’s Reskilling Revolution Platform, this initiative focuses on bolstering readiness among vulnerable populations, amplifying digital infrastructure such as internet and electricity access and ameliorating upward social mobility.

At this unique juncture of our history, we must reaffirm our joint commitment to working in partnership to protect our shared future – after all, we are in the decade to deliver. It is time to redouble our efforts towards achieving the SDGs, with business as a major stakeholder in this transformation. With this crisis still underfoot, the Forum of Young Global Leaders is committed to working with our partners to realise a world in which no one is left behind.

Forum Foundations

What is a YGL?

The YGL community is made up of more than 1,300 members and alumni, including public officials, business innovators, artists, educators, technology developers, journalists and activists.

The mission of the Forum of Young Global Leaders is to create a dynamic global community of exceptional people with the vision, courage and influence to drive positive change in the world.

Aligned with the World Economic Forum’s mission, they seek to spur public-private cooperation amongst these unique actors to demonstrate entrepreneurship in the global public interest.

Representing more than 100 nationalities, Young Global Leaders are united by the belief that the urgent problems of today present an opportunity to forge a better future across sectors, generations and borders.

Visit the YGL website at: https://www.younggloballeaders.org/

To follow the YGL Annual Summit on social media, use the hashtag #ygl20.