Some 500 young innovators, activists, and local changemakers from over 150 countries and territories are attending the Global Shapers Annual Summit 2024. Image: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Empowering the future: how Global Shapers are advancing the youth agenda

Natalie Pierce
Head of Global Shapers Community, World Economic Forum

  • The Global Shapers Annual Summit 2024 is taking place in Geneva, Switzerland, from 10 – 12 June, under the theme ‘Dare to Innovate’.
  • The Global Shapers Community, an initiative of the World Economic Forum, is a network of innovators, activists and changemakers under 30 who work together to advance local solutions to pressing challenges.
  • Global Shapers from 150 countries and territories will access unique learning opportunities, including hands-on experiences, to develop practical skills for leading positive social change locally and globally.

In an era marked by rapid technological advances and unprecedented global challenges, today’s young generation is stepping forward with a sense of urgency and a call for transformative action.

The issues young people champion not only reflect their immediate concerns but also represent a blueprint for a more equitable, sustainable and just future.

This week, 500 young innovators, activists, and local changemakers from over 150 countries and territories will attend the Global Shapers Annual Summit 2024 in Geneva, Switzerland.

The Summit is the World Economic Forum’s foremost event for next-generation leaders to generate collective insights and deployable solutions to support young people worldwide.

These are the topics at the forefront of this year’s youth agenda:

Addressing climate change

At the forefront of the youth agenda is the battle against climate change. With the planet experiencing the warmest years on record and witnessing devastating natural disasters, young people are demanding urgent and comprehensive action. Nearly 90% of youth surveyed in the Global Shapers Community consider climate change to be a top concern.

Young people understand that their future hinges on the actions taken today to mitigate the effects of global warming and protect the environment.

Young changemakers in the Global Shapers Community have delivered more than 100 grassroots projects and solutions to reduce emissions, conserve nature and accelerate sustainability in the last 12 months.

At the Summit, young innovators from Morelia, Mexico will showcase the satellite surveillance tool they created to track deforestation. Activists from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, will scale their work to enhance agricultural capacity through the construction of urban greenhouses and gardens. And changemakers from Malmö, Sweden, will share their youth employment action plan to promote green jobs and local sustainability champions.

Employing the next generation

Access to quality education and fair employment opportunities are critical for young people navigating a rapidly evolving job market. The International Labour Organization highlights that, globally, more than 25% or 75 million young people are not in employment, education or skills training today, with significantly higher rates in emerging economies and among women.

As automation and digital transformation reshape industries, young people are advocating for educational reforms and skill development programmes to prepare them for the future workforce.

In the Global Shapers network, young changemakers are piloting new models for collective action to empower 1 million people with better education, skills and economic opportunities by 2030 to contribute to the Forum’s Reskilling Revolution.

Young people are also calling for policies that ensure fair wages, economic justice, and support for marginalized communities to bridge opportunity gaps. At the Summit, advocates from London will display their model to help young people from diverse backgrounds enter and thrive in the cybersecurity workforce.

Global Shapers from Prague will illustrate new curricula on urban innovation, design and advocacy, and leaders from Phnom Phen will share ways youth can better budget and save to overcome historical and cultural barriers, via their financial literacy hackathon, which has empowered 4,000 young people in Cambodia so far.

Expanding digital access and literacy

In a world increasingly driven by technology, equitable access to digital resources and improving digital literacy are essential.

In the Global Risks Report 2024, artificial intelligence-driven misinformation and disinformation rose rapidly in the risks perceived by younger age groups.

According to the International Telecommunication Union, nearly 2.9 billion people still lack internet access, disproportionately affecting young people in developing regions. Bridging this gap is critical to ensuring equal opportunities in education, employment and civic engagement, as well as building societal capacity and resilience.

At the Summit, innovators from Dar es Salaam will profile their model for expanding internet access and mobile learning centres across Tanzania, while Global Shapers in Amsterdam will pilot a new navigation app to help people with reduced mobility identify accessible walking routes in their city.

Activists from Karachi will also showcase the power of their replicable AI-powered chatbot to equip women with knowledge about their legal protections against harassment and Global Shapers from Nairobi will showcase a 12-week programme to teach girls to code and create mobile apps to solve real-world problems. In three years, their programme has reached 170 girls in Kenya, expanding from 17 to 55 students per cohort.

Global Shapers as changemakers for the future

Young people today are not just the leaders of tomorrow; they are the changemakers of today.

By addressing critical issues while upholding equity and justice for all, young people are laying the foundation for a future that is not only more hopeful but also more inclusive, sustainable and resilient. The time to support their vision and amplify their voices is now.

The World Economic Forum is proud to use its platform to empower more than 10,000 rising leaders in over 150 countries and territories.

Tune into live sessions at the Global Shapers Annual Summit 2024 on LinkedIn and join our youth-led movement to shape a better future for generations to come.

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