Young Global Leaders:

4 days conference:

day 1: dignity day, visit to vancouver schools, talking to kids about the concept of 'dignity' and the initiative to allow everyone to lead a dignified life ('we're all the same'). opening reception with Gordon Campbell (president of BC) and Klaus Schwab (chairman wef, founder ygl)

day 2: plenary session on what we do, why we're here, what we want to achieve. panels and interactive sessions on (see final programme). museum of anthropology - dinner and performance.

day 3: business brainstorming. priorities for 2020; presentations and round tables: poverty and development, education, environment, global governance and security, health, new initiatives. outdoor team building. dinner with members of foundation board

day 4: defining a common vision + action plans for task-forces. new ideas worth following up. closing panel. informal networking.

innovations for the future (from ygl meeting san francisco): digital media, biotech, alternative energy

ygl - leaders

  • participatory leadership inspiring reason + emotion
  • too many overeducated but demotivated people in the world
  • emphasis on personal communication and contact
  • 'you can't be a leader without the will to serve' - always ask yourself - how can i personally contribute?
  • creativity and leadership: process of eliminating options (michelangelo - david)

discussion about similarities and differences in the ygl community: why are we here (1 table - open src software in the US, art+tech in belgium and holland, thai parliament (education), poverty eradication in mozambique, art and human rights (video) in kenya, alpha-tech - broadband and alternative energy in canada):

openness sharing and participation

  • to share technology and ideas (open source, creative commons)
  • participation in shaping the cultural, social, ecological and technological future
  • awareness of individual issues on a global scale
  • fight ignorance: either don't know or don't want to know
  • people from different parts of the world are focusing on different priorities, but all issues are linked (environmental+economic+cultural issues can't be seen as separate) - eg. open src <> microfinance + how do we scale this?

poverty and human rights

  • poverty eradication (can technology bridge the gap between the non/educated?
  • access - technological development to improve people's lives, using all possible means, never leaving out any part of the world
  • focus on human rights - raising awareness through film, the arts… to help people liberate themselves


  • climate change and pollution
  • biodiversity

benefit of ygl

  • “how do you eat an elephant?”
  • large network with many different disciplines – new perspectives, no need to reinvent the wheel.

existing task forces:

1. environment: focus on climate change )

  • need to communicate alarming facts
  • get people out of apathy
  • focus on solutions rather than problems (from environmentalism being a burden to becoming an opportunity)
  • tf focused on an 'umbrella campaign' (love-hate, cool-uncool…)

2. governance and security

  • understanding why good people do evil things to each other
  • promotional campaign: setting up a non-profit film company for awareness and prevention of genocide
  • legitimacy index (current systems - both informal and formal (relationship very messy), still based on military, wealth, territory)
  • world government (UN comes the closest, but skewed - either big territory, the US or winners in WWII)

3. microfinance

  • spreading awareness between regulators and industry
  • getting leaders of financial institutions interested
  • different microfinance business models
  • dignity initiative - appeal to people's emotions to inspire action (individual / social…)
  • access to financial products for the poor
  • informal sector (small businesses - 70% of employment - the base of the pyramid)
  • scalable micro-enterprises
  • current model - very labour intensive

4. health

  • there is lots of money for r&d on drugs, not so much for treatment
  • more affordable medicine
  • states don't do much
  • press business and local government
  • individual self-care and prevention - diet, exercise…
  • focus on chronic and lifestyle diseases (80% in low income countries

5. education

  • progress for educational system, global database on schools
  • 'grassroots dignity college' - need translation in many languages
  • one mind at the time

6. new task forces

6.1 diversity on the bottom line - to promote cultural and religious understanding through basic education

6.2 social and action networks

environmental TF in detail

“undeniable” facts:

  • temperature raise of 1.5C in the coming century
  • increase of greenhouse gas
  • changing sea-currents
  • raise of water levels
  • climactic and tectonic uncertainty
  • biological mass extinction
  • deforestation
  • proliferation of heat absorbing surfaces
  • depletion of fossil fuels

in the face of these issues – too much apathy around the globe:

usual responses:

  • we're screwed and i can't do anything about it
  • i can't do anything on my own

ygl mission: empowering the individuals to ditch this apathy )

  • short and long term
  • working on energy efficiency, education and awareness campaigns

first things to change:

  • how we look at and use energy: in our own companies, with our clients/audiences/users
  • how we produce and distribute energy
  • disconnection between scientists/technologists - society+business

YGL to influence:

  • awareness of wide populations
  • business opportunities
  • policy
  • technology

issues with energy production:

  • problem with fossil fuels: low energy ratio, high emission of co2
  • alternative energy production needed:
  • short term: bio-fuels (ethanol), solar energy, wind-power, nuclear energy, geothermal, hydro-power
  • longer term: hydrogen fuels (nuclear fusion – see fusion in a bubble UCLA)
  • increasing efficiency of current energy production and consumption
  • finding better ways to generate energy
  • push r&d in alternative energy, for 'cool' technology (solar tech much more increase in efficiency than internal combustion motors)
  • 'small is profitable' - solutions of right size for the right place

things to address in short term concerning energy production and consumption: waste, biofuels, natural gas

  • waste - mostly produced in transportation: because of heat dissipation, rolling resistance, aerodynamic drag – problem with the weight of vehicles ('platform physics') - lightweight steel, aluminium-titanium alloys, carbon-fibre composits (until now used in aerospace and sports)
  • biofuels - mostly ethanol: in the US from corn (not efficient), in Brazil from sugarcane (more efficient). another good solution - cellulose based ethanol (from switch grass and woody parts of plants) - can be grown on depleted agricultural land, where it doesn't need to compete with other crops
  • natural gas - wasted producing electricity. more appliances / transport should use it. electricity power plants are too often 'peak' plants - we need to find a better way to store the energy and use only when needed.

nuclear future?

“i don't like the stuff, but it's there and i know what to do with it”

  • even green-peace is beginning to change their opinion about it
  • until now nuclear power very wasteful – it is possible to recycle and enrich uranium. we have enough uranium for about 100 years. if enriched, for about 1000.
  • waste: now - 1 gigawat fission reactor - 12 steel barrels per year. for the entire earth we would need 10000 such reactors. it takes 5-10 years, 1 billion USD to build one. ideal - break uranium down to Iron 56 — not radioactive, no waste (needs research!).
  • nuclear security - big issue (chernobyl - preventable human mistake)

more general short term proposals: from passive awareness to positive action (individuals, communities, businesses, politicians)


  • better insulation
  • changing modes of transport, fly less
  • more efficient lighting and heating systems
  • recycle
  • minimise waste
  • conscious consumer's attitude (organic, fair trade…)
  • consumer push on business

business and regulators

  • CMC: conservation - mitigation - conversion
  • lowering agricultural subsidies and growing cash crops
  • encouraging manufacturers to design greener solutions
  • adapting existing and designing new forms of transport
  • insurance policies against weather derivatives
  • changing standards and regulations (often don't allow for green solutions)
  • decoupling power consumption from economic growth
  • address global warming and poverty simultaneously
  • green pathways out of poverty. social, economic and spiritual u-turn:
  • conservation of natural resources
  • regulation of bad investment in good solutions
  • from rich to poor, from problem to solution
  • makes people equal again
  • large green voter base (community health benefits across the board)

from reduce, reuse, recycle (environmentalist) to:

  • reengineer: policy, built environment
  • reinvest/reinvent - relationships business/govt (subsidies, tax, zoning)
  • retrain - workforce, technology…

designers and developers

  • visualisation and design of new 'green' products and services
  • creating a new mindset - not about 'don't do' but about 'do'
  • get the 'early adopters on the side (designers, architects, engineers…) - educating developers
  • working on biomimetic and biophilic design
  • “whole system design”
  • getting consumers on the side: ferrary look with a green engine; the feelgood factor
  • influencing behaviour change (making green living positive and aspirational, rather than finger-wagging. people have to see there are others (idols, role models, the mr nobody like me) taking the initiative - people will act, but not alone ('if you will, i will).
  • example: minergie houses in switzerland, sustainable buildings in india, israel and iceland off oil (environmental + social)

how far is it possible to go within the current paradigm, how much we can stretch it, is it enough?

  • need for a more fundamental change in life and life-style - addressing issues holistically
  • need to attract grass-roots ngos, designers, eco-activists and arts collectives
  • moving from communist views to open understanding of society
  • consulting groups most effective to get things from accademia to realworld situations
  • how to reshape economics if necessary
  • think and do tank
  • science of well-being
  • architectural approaches - how much critical mass reuqired to make a city carbon free?


  • (vancouver public taxi)
  • report 'resources from the future' (1951 - pentagon?) – not able to manage resources of the world based on what was there then
  • carbon offset options (frequent flyers in buying tickets, ups and fedex - optional deliveries)
  • book - beyond short termism
  • green-collar workers (environmental issues for dealing with poverty

Existing YGL initiatives


  • ygl campaign - passionate, motivated, optimistic and solution driven. not so much about profit, but about well-being; changing things more fundamentally, targeting ideas and beliefs; legitimately the next generation, since they;re young. required to have a sequel to the gore movie called details
  • framework around the question - why is it good for me – ie environmental issues as a business proposition – economic - public health - environmental issues
  • umbrella campaign; creating awareness, outline business opportunities and the dangers of being a laggard; working with the wef for the framework of economic and regulatory systems

C20 (or 21, 22…) - c20 initiative - 20 of the largest cities as examples of 'green city' )

  • globalcool
  • media, communication and analytics - getting celebrities to promote green lifestyle (embargoed until end of june)
  • indexing good sustainable business practices
  • summit in iceland, october 2006

–> powerful groups to unite in the cause (never before did these groups agree on a single issue!:

  • shareholder activists
  • philantropists
  • investors and VCs (CERES - carbon disclosure project)
  • religious groups (agglomerated religions own 7% of earth + large investments. 11000 environmental projects since 1989!)
  • large pension funds (including academic retirement funds)
  • powerful investors representing cities
  • NGOs
  • people working on the cutting edge of all practices
  • scientific community (to work on lowering princeton wedges), sponsoring students and faculty
  • concordia institute for sustainability
  • cities are the best answer (in scandinavia national govts as well)
  • decision makers
  • bankers and other financial leaders
  • eco-artists and activitists (eco-fest in nairobi)
  • human rights network (hurinet)
  • media (newsweek will bring out a special issue on this)

what people want to contribute:

  • foam - minimise our own ecological footprint (we still need about 2 planets); help concept and design for (a segment of) the umbrella awareness campaign; retreat/conference on sustainable media for designers, artists, engineers and architects; forestation and green city initiatives (seedballing); working locally in brussels and amsterdam for the C20 initiative - public actions, collaborating with neighbourhood committees, working with local govt…;
  • video journalist network (face of aids: ), can help documenting 'best practices', working with dissemination agencies to distribute 'self-created content' and generate a massive online repository - documenting our processes, if needed for other people
  • awareness campaign for agriculture - developing a 'cool rose' needing less water, resistant to pests… organically grown…
  • developing the index and advising clients to become greener (+ offer solutions, help, mentoring and contacts)
  • attracting investors and fundraising
  • attracting role models (famous people, but also your next door neighbour people) to get to groups of people who don't care about the environment
  • need to mobilise small businesses
  • localising / situating marketing campaign
  • combining arts and music (cd with music by african artists to promote the cause)
  • delhi - now all public transport - natural gas – had to happen through law enforcement - it needed a communication strategy to all levels of society - to communicate how lives can change
  • lobbying groups to target policy and public services
  • distributed power station in london
  • if you visualise things well, it's easy to get both individual consumers and policy people
  • RED group - looking at domestic energy - co-creating public services for the 21st ct * forestation (trees in SA cut in ghettos - link between poverty and greening (greenhouse project in johanessburg /earthlife africa)

summary concrete actions ygl environmental tf beginning 2006

  • awareness promotion campaign (targeting businesses first, then governments and communities)
  • C20 - 20 major cities carbon-free - public events, large scale actions, policy decisions, media campaigns
  • index for businesses (how to change to help minimise climate change_)
  • fundraising for sustainable development
  • support for r&d in alternative energy
  • summit in iceland

connecting with different task forces:

  • education: access to schools world-wide for workshops, information sessions, lessons…
  • health: connecting environmental thinking with food, diet, exercise and individual well-being

on conflict and cooperation

  • distinction: people who preach fear / people who preach trust
  • ultimate cooperation - world government?
  • for diversity, not for tolerance (i don't want to be tolerated!)
  • media - conflict sells better than cooperation
  • the west should learn more about islam, and about how much of our civilisation is built on / depends on islam
  • terrorists → victims/rejection of globalisation, not a clash of civilisations

keeping promises: every time you promise something, record and publish it!

it's a small world

online communities:

  • ability to self-publish, reach, search and expand (sales, raising kids)
  • leveraging social connections
  • portable reputations
  • they enable the 'fringe' - no top down management
  • seeming self-organisation – social filtering and tagging
  • mash-up of work and play
  • MMORPGS driving business models and environments
  • SAP knowledge network
  • challenges: disruption, no maps, different styles, approaches and languages (the 'lawyer salad')

infosys: 'knowledge networks - p2p network. employees get points for contributing

open source communities: amplifiers for people and their desires

  • from online back to the physical communities: 'fab-labs' (bridging the fabrication and instrumentation divide) - using the computer as a tool and as a material. machines to make machines. – bottom-up aid, bottom-up technology (book: 'fab' by neil gershenfield)

leaky technology - impossible to keep undisclosed (pentagon – how do we classify it / / it's too late, we better find ways to make friends)

business brainstorming


  • cultural clash (japanese business does not respect other cultures. US business very goal oriented)
  • hiring good people
  • stagnation/innovation
  • for profit/non profit
  • language issues + decision making:
  • asian - consensus building; US - cut through decisions
  • vision is not a problem, execution is (need to build execution aspects into mission statements
  • team-building: with personal trainers ('cracking'), social events, outdoor activities

attention economy - everyone overloaded by information. solutions to relax:

  • walk before email
  • think before pressing enter
  • don't Cc if not necessary
  • never send an email angry
  • no closet emailing on vacation
  • write letters by hand sometimes
  • if all fails - therapy!

we're all in search of balance; more focus on self + well being (yoga, nail polish !!!!???, civic action, charity….)

closing remarks

  • always refocus on individual behaviours and emotions
  • think up menaingful metrics and indexing (bringing the individual up to scale)
  • govern on the side of problem solvers
  • review products with carbon signatures
  • leveraging the ygl network (online, locally) - creating a ygl voice
  • ideas and products designed and distributed globally, not just for the benefit of the west
  • we should change the position from which we ask questions - from the individual → network → institution
  • the role of the leader is to ask questions
  • 'economists are left brain philosophers'
  • young local leaders
  • mentoring new ygls / old global leaders
  • getting fellow ygls out of danger
  • top level executive education, ygl fellowships for students
  • from poverty reduction to wealth creation
  • leading by example - making a difference
  • balance between action and thoughtful leadership
  • ygl_summit_2006.txt
  • Last modified: 2016-08-10 10:23
  • by nik