Building an International Organization for Public-Private Cooperation

Young Leaders and Industry Partners

As a further development to the concept of the Global Leaders for Tomorrow, in January, Klaus Schwab announced the creation of the Forum of Young Global Leaders (YGLs).


US Vice-President Dick Cheney came to Davos, together with four other members of the Bush Administration and 15 senators and congressmen. Cheney told participants that the world continued to face a sophisticated global network of terrorists ready to engage in suicide missions and calling themselves martyrs. Governments had three fundamental responsibilities, he concluded: to defeat terrorism by advancing freedom, to keep alliances strong and cooperate on every front in meeting common dangers, and to be ready to use military force when diplomacy fails.

On the sidelines of the Annual Meeting, 20 trade ministers pledged to reinvigorate the Doha Development Agenda of global trade negotiations. Organized by the World Trade Organization and the Swiss government, this special gathering has since become an annual event at Davos. Ten years later, however, the Doha Round has yet to be concluded.

The Forum launched the Industry Partnership Programme to shape industry agendas through multistakeholder cooperation. From three pilot sectors – IT and telecommunications, energy and financial services – the programme now covers 20 industry sectors comprising of more than 500 partners.

To endow the new organization, Schwab used the $1 million he had received as part of the Dan David Prize, which he was awarded for building the Forum into an organization that works for peace and social responsibility. Selected from over 8,000 candidates by a nomination committee of the world’s most eminent media leaders, the first 238 YGLs, all under the age of 40, represented 69 countries and were drawn from all sectors. More than 30% were women. Under the theme “The World in 2020”, the YGLs held their inaugural summit at Zermatt, Switzerland, in June 2005.

By 2014, the YGL community had grown to more than 1,000 active members who passionately contribute their time and energy to the community’s worthy endeavours such as the innovative Table for Two initiative and support programmes of the World Economic Forum as speakers, Global Agenda Council members, industry experts and engaged contributors.

In 2011, recognizing that half of the world’s population is under the age of 27, the Forum established the Global Shapers Community to include emerging leaders in their 20s in its activities. By mid-2014, there were more than 4,000 Shapers in more than 350 city hubs. YGLs act as curators of these hubs and mentors to members.

Among the regional summits in 2004, the European Economic Summit in Warsaw was of special significance since it coincided with the enlargement of the European Union from 15 to 25 members on 1 May. More than 20 heads of state and government were among the 630 participants in what was the first meeting to convene key players of the new Europe.

The Forum launched its official weblog, making it among the world’s first international organizations to have such a channel to engage the world in its activities and allow open debate. The blog has been an integral part of the Forum’s social media strategy to use the growing number of popular platforms to reach out to the public and enhance transparency and communications.