Youth Perspectives

Celebrating 10 years of impact from the Global Shapers Community

From providing disaster relief to fighting climate change.

From providing disaster relief to fighting climate change. Image: Clay Banks/Unsplash

Wadia Ait Hamza
Senior Advisor, NA
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  • The World Economic Forum's Global Shapers Community celebrates its tenth anniversary this month.
  • The community empowers young people around the world to create meaningful change in their communities.
  • Their projects range from providing disaster relief to combating poverty to fighting climate change to building inclusive communities.

As it marks its 10 years anniversary, the World Economic Forum’s Global Shapers Community continues to drive change and disrupt the status quo in cities and communities across the world.

The community is a network of more than 14,000 young people driving dialogue, action and change in more than 450 hubs across 150 countries and territories around the world. Their projects range from providing disaster relief to combating poverty to fighting climate change to building inclusive communities. This is an incredibly diverse community, but they all have one thing in common: they want to create real, meaningful change.

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What is a Global Shaper?

For many people around the world, 2021 has been a reminder of the fragility of our global system. For others, this year has been a time of hope as countries race to vaccinate their population with the aim of going back to normal.

But for many members of our community, "normal" is the problem. Young people today believe that they can and will change the world for the better.

The Global Shapers Community was created with the mission to empower young people through enabling them to self-organize and amplifying their voices. Global Shapers have sense of shared responsibility, an urgency to make the world a better place and an attitude of cooperation irrespective of differences.

Our ambition is to support a global community of young changemakers taking action to improve the state of the world, one local community at a time. To achieve this goal, the Global Shapers Community seeks to create meaningful impacts on individual Shapers, who in turn create change within their communities through city-based Global Shaper hubs and the projects these hubs develop, launch and implement.

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Through the work of Shapers, hubs and their projects, citizens become engaged in their communities, become proud of their communities, and develop a greater sense of cohesion with others within their communities. Projects completed by Global Shapers help to increase the capacity of communities to implement innovations through forming new local partnerships, breaking down silos among organizations and increasing the willingness of community members to engage in community-strengthening activities. These conditions lay the foundations for projects to have real and lasting community impacts in areas such as arts and culture, education, health and civic participation.

For example:

In Mali, the Bamako Hub (Mali) installed free wi-fi at a public school and a vocational training center for girls, thus reducing the digital divide.

The Montreal Hub (Canada) and Kigali Hub (Rwanda) developed a skills-mapping framework with the World Economic Forum Center for Cybersecurity to encourage non-technical and minority candidates to transition to new economy roles.

To mitigate the effects of single-use masks on the environment and redirect existing PPE to front-line health workers, The Bangalore Hub (India) urged the public to make, wear and clean their own reusable cotton face masks, through campaigns in more than 30 languages. Shapers donated reusable masks to vulnerable communities while helping to secure jobs for 15 female makers locally.

The San Francisco Hub (US) distributed reusable cotton masks via contactless delivery to the disability community, especially those unable to access local mutual aid networks or in-person pick-up sites, to protect people and their care teams during COVID-19.

The last years have been a time of unprecedented uncertainty amid climate, social justice, poverty and global health crises. Nevertheless, the goals of the Global Shapers Community – empowering young leaders and strengthening local communities – proved as vital during these crises as ever.

If there was ever a time in which strengthening local communities and empowering youth leaders were paramount, now is that time. Our community’s ability to respond and evolve in this time of need was made possible thanks to the engagement, commitment, passion and dedication of young people, whose commitment to the World Economic Forum’s mission – improving the state of the world - remains unwavering. This is at the heart of the Global Shapers Community and inspires us each and every day.

This generation has inherited enormous global challenges, but it has the ability to lead positive and global change.

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