The Young Global Leaders Community operates as a force for good to overcome barriers that stand in the way of progress. YGLs capitalize on diverse talents, experiences and networks to achieve more together than they could separately. This includes collective impact initiatives, as well as individual collaborations. Below are recent collaborations that are achieving transformative impact.
Speedo Diplomacy: Achieving the World’s Largest Marine Protected Area
Background: After five years of protracted negotiations, and tireless ‘Speedo Diplomacy’ from endurance swimmer and UN Patron of Oceans Lewis Pugh, Antarctica’s Ross Sea has finally been declared a Marine Protected Area. With valuable support from fellow YGLs Brian Herlihy, Dave Duarte and Enric Sala, Lewis has campaigned tirelessly to protect the region, shuffling back and forth between the 25 nations responsible for protecting the region, and also undertaking 3 long distance swims in the freezing waters to highlight the issue.
Impact: This Agreement represents the largest protected area in history – bigger than the UK, Germany, France and Italy combined! The Ross Sea, one of the most pristine marine ecosystems left on earth and home to the largest colony of Adélie penguins in the world, will now be protected from the type of industrial fishing, which has devastated so many other parts of the world.
Background: YGLs have promoted constructive conflict and proactive diversity as antidotes to identity-based polarization for several years. We wrote about the role of connectivity in both fanning and dousing digital wildfires back in 2013. We held a workshop to catalogue best practice in resisting radicalization in Davos 2015 and convened again in Geneva to design some rules for constructive conflict. In 2016, the acrimonious nature of debate around Brexit, the US elections, immigration and renewed acts of terrorism prompted the need to raise the intensity of spotlight on this issue.
Impact: Fifteen YGLs and Six Shapers came together with others at the London School of Economics under the banner of “Beyond Tolerance”. Through a variety of interactive sessions, we sought to answer the following: Is it possible to immunize ourselves and our communities against exploitative polarization? How can we better pursue diversity and constructive conflict so that we become more resilient against the destructive kind? What is the role of education, business, media, entertainment, social enterprise? Going forward, we will dig deeper into each of the sub-streams of intervention (education, the arts etc.), engage communities at local levels and share experiences of what works and what doesn’t. All the while, we will continue to advocate for the mindset of constructive conflict in public discourse and hold our leaders accountable to this standard.
Background: What are vertical farms, and can they feed the world? Inspired during his experience at the YGL Harvard Kennedy School education module, YGL David Rosenberg founded Aerofarms in 2010, an initiative to build the largest indoor farm in the world in an old factory in Newark, New Jersey. In 2015, they began shipping produce from a smaller facility to ShopRite Supermarkets, and will soon start supplying Whole Foods and other customers.
Impact: Aerofarms reduces 98% of harmful transportation emissions, uses 95% less water and 1% of the land required by traditional field farming. Read more about the transformative impact of vertical farming here.
Background: Think TripAdvisor meets LinkedIn for the public service – Apolitical is a global platform that connects the best ideas and people in government. From impact bonds for early childhood development in South Africa, to a deradicalisation programme in Denmark – Apolitical is focused on transferrable solutions to today’s most pressing problems. With 5 YGLs as advisors – Apolitical was founded in 2015, after YGLs Lisa Witter and Robyn Scott met on the tarmac of Nay Pyi Taw Airport in Myanmar and began discussing the power of public sector innovation to tackle global challenges.
Impact: Apolitical has already solved the challenges of public servants in more than 30 countries – including connecting Sri Lankan anti-corruption champion Asanga Abeyagoonasekera to Zubair Bhatta, a Pakistani official who set out to prevent bureaucrats from demanding bribes for providing basic services. The solution: citizen feedback through mobile phones. Asanga will now begin to explore how to rollout this solution in Sri Lanka.
Background: What does it mean to be a philanthropist? At the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting 2014, YGLs Kate Roberts and HRH Crown Princess Mette-Marit of Norway discussed the need to redefine the term. They founded Maverick Collective – a community of strategic philanthropists who use their intellectual and financial resources to end extreme poverty by improving the health and rights of girls and women worldwide. Melinda Gates co-chairs Maverick Collective and there are 14 other founding female philanthropists who advocate for female empowerment worldwide and pilot innovative equity solutions that can be leveraged and scaled by larger donors.
Impact: Maverick Collective has mobilized $60 million so far to help more than 300,000 women and girls live healthier lives through pilot projects in 13 countries. In Tanzania, they are working to better understand unwanted teen pregnancy by empowering teen girls to devise their own solutions to increasing access to contraceptives. The most effective approaches are now being scaled by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the Children’s International not only in Tanzania, but also in Kenya and Nigeria.
Rising Tide Capital
Background: In 2016, the Blackstone Charitable Foundation, on whose Board YGL Sean Klimczak serves, supported YGL Alfa Demmellash’s non-profit Rising Tide Capital (RTC) with a $200,000 Blackstone Innovation Grant. RTC’s mission is to assist talented men and women to build strong businesses that transform lives, strengthen families and create thriving communities. Sean also serves as a mentor to RTC’s leadership team, as the initiative begins to replicate its work nationally. Alfa, who co-founded RTC in 2004 with Harvard classmate, Alex Forrester, is a CNN hero and has been recognized by President Obama for social innovation.
Impact: Blackstone’s Innovation Grant supported RTC’s Start Something Challenge, a programme to support low-income entrepreneurs in New Jersey to market and grow successful businesses by leveraging digital platforms to reach wider audiences. Since 2004, RTC has expanded its services to 700 entrepreneurs per year across five cities and is actively working to scale its model to more cities nationally. Blackstone’s Innovation Grant will enable Rising Tide Capital to continue to expand and reach more underserved communities.