The Forum of Young Global Leaders, or Young Global Leaders (YGL), was created by Klaus Schwab, Founder and Executive Chairman of the World Economic Forum. The YGL, a non-profit organization managed from Geneva, Switzerland, is under the supervision of the Swiss government.
Schwab created the group with $1 million won from the Dan David Prize, and the inaugural 2005 class comprised 237 young leaders.
People recognized as a Young Global Leader are allowed to attend one meeting of the World Economic Forum for free.
BusinessWeek's Bruce Nussbaum describes the Young Global Leaders as "the most exclusive private social network in the world", while the organization itself describes the selected leaders as representing "the voice for the future and the hopes of the next generation".
Representing 70 different nations, Young Global Leaders are nominated by alumni to serve six-year terms and are subject to veto during the selection process. Candidates must be younger than 38 years old at the time of acceptance (meaning active YGLs are 44 and younger), and highly accomplished in their fields. Over the years, there have been many hundreds of honorees, including several popular celebrities, alongside recognized high achievers and innovators in politics, business, academia, media, and the arts.
Michelle Rempel, a Canadian Conservative politician, says she found out she had been selected as a Young Global Leader in 2016 with an email that she thought was a spam, and described a 2017 meeting as "no different in feel from an academic conference, if a bit more global in nature and with more high-profile politicians and CEOs in attendance."
Daniel Crenshaw, A Republican Texas Congressman, was selected as a Young Global Leader in 2019. According to podcaster Tim Pool, Crenshaw explained that the Young Global Leader list is an orial list of prominent young people and that there is no communication or agreement before being put on their website.
In a 2017 interview, Klaus Schwab said that Russian President Vladimir Putin had been recognized as a Young Global Leader, and also mentioned Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau: "I have to say, when I mention now names, like Mrs. (Angela) Merkel and even Vladimir Putin, and so on, they all have been Young Global Leaders of the World Economic Forum. But what we are very proud of now is the young generation like Prime Minister (Justin) Trudeau … We penetrate the cabinet. So yesterday I was at a reception for Prime Minister Trudeau and I know that half of his cabinet, or even more than half of his cabinet, are actually Young Global Leaders." Schwab has mentioned Putin a second time as shown in the documentary Das Forum, which goes into behind the scenes footage of the World Economic Forum in Switzerland. In the clip Schwab states "Mrs. Merkel, Tony Blair, even Putin, they were all Young Global Leaders before."
There are no records of Putin or Trudeau ever being named as Young Global Leaders on the official website because their website only puts members from year the 2017 up to present time. Trudeau has spoken at the World Economic Forum conference in Davos several times, while Putin has also spoken regularly at the gathering and has known Klaus Schwab since 1992. According to Putin that's when they began a close relationship and that he regularly attended events that Schwab hosted, long before he ever became President of Russia. Schwab likely refers to Putin as one of his young global leaders because their relationship dates back to 1992, which is likely the year that the Forum of Young Global Leaders was founded. Putin was 40 years old at this time.
Members and alumni
Notable people who have been part of the Young Global Leaders program include:
Present and former politicians and civil servants: