It looks like young people are losing faith in global leadership

This blog is the first of a series published on WEFLIVE from the One Young World community who are addressing issues across the world relating to the World Economic Forum 2017 theme of 'Responsive and Responsible Leadership'. 

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It’s not surprising that many, many people have lost all belief in our leaders – not least of all young people who watch in dismay and disbelief.

The Financial Crisis of 2008 was allowed to happen. Leaders were warned of it at the World Economic Forum of 2006; warnings about the impacts of Climate Change have abounded at the WEF and in every forum. These warnings went unheeded. This has not just been unresponsive leadership it has been irresponsible.

It isn’t good enough for us to watch, hear and admire Matt Damon, Jamie Oliver, Paul Polman and Ellen MacArthur. They teach us of the need for clean water, healthier eating, sustainable businesses, and the circular economy. But they want us to do more than just listen- they are calling for action!

Every single government and business leader meeting in Davos this week is part of the global elite – very intelligent, very wealthy, and very famous. They’ve worked hard but they’ve been given talent, access, privilege – and of those to whom much is given the young people of the world say that now much is asked.

Is it naive for the next generation to believe that political and business leaders are concerned for people? Some are already losing patience. Research for One Young World, the premier global forum for young leaders, found that 66% of its Ambassadors believe corruption prevents economic and political development in their countries. The same proportion ranked 'weak leadership' as a grave threat to future generations in their country - the only thing they feared more was Climate Change.

For responsive, responsible leaders the path to follow is obvious. They must use their power to respond to systemic challenges and they must act responsibly.

By acting responsibly I also mean acting with efficiency and urgency.

Get on with it! For all our sakes.



Formerly Global President of Havas Worldwide, Kate founded One Young World in 2009. In 2015 she quit the world of advertising to work on One Young World full-time.

Since 2009, One Young World Summits have brought together over 8,000 young leaders from 196 countries, and provided a global platform to affect change among sectors including government, business, academia and NGOs. Noted global leaders who have attended include Kofi Annan, Mary Robinson, Desmond Tutu, Emma Watson, Justin Trudeau, Bob Geldof and Professor Muhammad Yunus.