The Young Global Leaders of the Davos World Economic Forum (WEF)

The Davos World Economic Forum (2020)

Updated: February 2023
: June 2022

An overview of the World Economic Forum (WEF) Global Leaders for Tomorrow (1993-2003) and Young Global Leaders (since 2005) in politics and the media.


1) Introduction 2) Young Global Leaders 3) Fact Checks 4) Appendix


The Davos World Economic Forum (WEF) is a premier forum for governments, global corporations and international entrepreneurs. Founded in 1971 by German engineer and economist, Dr. Klaus Schwab, the WEF describes its mission as “shaping global, regional and industry agendas” and “improving the state of the world”. According to its website, “moral and intellectual integrity is at the heart of everything it does.”

The World Economic Forum has been running, since 1993, a program called Global Leaders for Tomorrow, rebranded, in 2005, as Young Global Leaders. This program aims at identifying, selecting and promoting future global leaders in both business and politics. Indeed, quite a few Young Global Leaders have later managed to become Presidents, Prime Ministers, or CEOs (see below). In a speech in 2017, WEF founder Klaus Schwab described this process as “penetrating the Cabinets”.

There is some evidence that the founding of the WEF in 1971 may have been a CIA-directed Cold War initiative, inspired by Henry Kissinger, to coordinate and educate Western leaders (similar to the left-wing “Congress for Cultural Freedom”, later exposed as a CIA platform). If so, the WEF Young Global Leaders may have to be seen as CIA-selected political and economic leaders.

Young Global Leaders

There follows an overview of WEF Young Global Leaders (2005-2021) and Global Leaders for Tomorrow (1993-2003) in politics and the media. The list may not be exhaustive.

Sources: Young Global Leaders and Global Leaders for Tomorrow on WikiSpooks and the official WEF Young Global Leaders website.

United States

Politics and Policy

California Governor Gavin Newsom (selected in 2005), Pete Buttigieg (Presidential candidate in 2020, selected in 2019), Chelsea Clinton (Clinton Foundation board member), Huma Abedin (Hillary Clinton aide, selected in 2012), Nikki Haley (US ambassador to the UN, 2017-2018), Samantha Power (US ambassador to the UN, 2013-2017, USAID Administrator since 2021), Adam Kinzinger (2005), Ian Bremmer (founder of Eurasia Group), Bill Browder (initiator of the Magnitsky Act), Jonathan Soros (son of George Soros), Kenneth Roth (director of “Human Rights Watch” since 1993), Paul Krugman (economist, selected in 1995), Lawrence Summers (former World Bank Chief Economist, former US Treasury Secretary, former Harvard University President, selected in 1993), Alicia Garza (co-founder of Black Lives Matter, selected in 2020), Stéphane Bancel (Moderna CEO), Jeffrey Zients (White House Coronavirus Response Coordinator, selected in 2003).


CNN host Fareed Zakaria (2001), CNN anchor Anderson Cooper (2008), CNN chief medical correspondent Sanjay Gupta (2010), Andrew Ross Sorkin (New York Times, 2007), Thomas Friedman (New York Times, 1995), George Stephanopoulos (ABC News, 1993), Lachlan Murdoch (CEO of Fox Corporation, 1997), Maria Bartiromo (Fox Business).

Technology and Social Media

Microsoft founder Bill Gates (1993), former Microsoft CEO Steven Ballmer (selected in 1995), Amazon founder Jeff Bezos (1998), Google co-founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page (2002/2005), former Google CEO Eric Schmidt (2001-2017, selected in 1997), Wikipedia co-founder Jimmy Wales (2007), PayPal co-founder Peter Thiel (2007), eBay co-founder Pierre Omidyar (1999), Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg (2009), Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg (2007), Google Jigsaw CEO Jared Cohen (2014).

Note: US congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard and US entrepreneur Elon Musk were nominated as WEF Young Global Leaders but apparently never participated in the program (see here and here).

Great Britain

Former British Prime Ministers Tony Blair and Gordon Brown (both selected in 1993), William Hague (Foreign Secretary, 2010-2014), Lynn Forester de Rothschild (co-owner of The Economist), Nathaniel Rothschild (son of Lord Rothschild), historian Niall Ferguson (selected in 2005), Charles Allen (CEO of ITV, 2004-2007; Chairman of EMI, 2008-2010), Caterhine Howarth (board member of the Scott Trust, owner of The Guardian), Dawood Azami (BBC World Service journalist), Professor in Public Health Devi Sridhar (selected in 2020/21).

Australia and New Zealand

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern (PM since 2017, selected in 2014) and Australian Health Minister Greg Hunt (selected in 2003; former WEF strategy director).


In a speech in 2017, WEF founder Klaus Schwab mentioned Canada as an example of how the WEF “penetrated the Cabinets” and said that Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and “more than half of his Cabinet” were Young Global Leaders (1:08:30), but this may have been an exaggeration.

Justin Trudeau has been a WEF keynote speaker, but he is not a confirmed Young Global Leader. Confirmed Young Global Leaders in his Cabinets since 2015 include Deputy PM Chrystia Freeland (selected in 2001; former managing director of Reuters and a member of the WEF Board of Trustees), Minister of Foreign Affairs Mélanie Joly (2016), President of the Treasury Board Scott Brison (2005), Minister of Immigration Sean Fraser (2022), and Minister of families Karina Gould (2020).

Other Cabinet members were speakers at the annual WEF meeting in Davos. Mark Carney, former Governor of the Bank of Canada, is a member of the WEF Board of Trustees. Dominique Anglade, member of the Quebec Parliament, is also a Young Global Leader (2014).


Chancellor Angela Merkel (selected in 1993, 12 years before becoming Chancellor), current Health Minister Jens Spahn and former Health Ministers Philipp Roesler and Daniel Bahr, current co-chair of the Green Party and failed Chancellor candidate Annalena Baerbock (selected in 2020), former co-chair of the Green Party Cem Özdemir (selected in 2002), media mogul and Axel Springer CEO Mathias Doepfner (selected in 2001), talk show host Sandra Maischberger, late Foreign Minister and Vice Chancellor Guido Westerwelle (1997), former German President Christian Wulff (selected in 1995, 15 years before becoming President), Reto Francioni (former CEO of Deutsche Boerse).

European Union

EU Commission Presidents Jose Manuel Barroso (2004-2014, selected in 1993) and Jean-Claude Juncker (2014-2019, selected in 1995), French President Emanuel Macron (since 2017, selected in 2016), former French President Nicolas Sakozy (2007-2012, selected in 1993), Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz, former Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi (2014-2016, selected in 2012), former Spanish Prime Ministers José Maria Aznar (1996-2004, selected in 1993) and José Luis Zapatero (2004-2011, selected in 2001), Klaus Regling (CEO of the European Financial Stability Mechanism), Mabel van Oranje (Dutch princess), Belgian Prime Minister Alexander de Croo (since 2020, selected in 2015), Guy Verhofstadt (former Belgian Prime Minister, Chair of the Brexit Steering Group), Danish Minister for the Environment Lea Wermelin, Finnish Prime Minister Sanna Marin, former Finnish Prime Ministers Alexander Stubb and Jyrki Katainen, and Mark Leonard (founding director of the Soros-funded European Council on Foreign Relations).


Natalie Rickli (Director of Health of the Canton of Zurich, selected in 2012*), former Presidents of the Swiss National Council Christa Markwalder (selected in 2011) and Pascale Bruderer-Wyss (2009), National Council member Thomas Aeschi (2014), Geneva politician Pierre Maudet (2013), NZZ media group CEO Felix R. Graf (2007), former Swiss Justice Minister Ruth Metzler (2002), former Swiss television CEO Roger de Weck (2011-2017, selected in 1994), former UBS CEOs Peter Wuffli (1994) and Marcel Rohner (2003), former Credit Suisse CEO Tidjane Tiam (1998), Swiss tennis player Roger Federer (2010), Patrick Chappatte (2006; news media cartoonist).

*) Note: According to a 2023 press report, Natalie Rickli didn’t participate in the YGL program.


In a speech in 2017, WEF founder Klaus Schwab mentioned Russian President Vladimir Putin as a Young Global Leader, but Putin is not mentioned on any archived member list. Putin did, however, attend a 1992 WEF meeting in St. Petersburg, where he was serving as head of the Committee for External Relations of the Mayor’s Office at the time.

Russian entrepreneur Pavel Durov, founder of social media platforms VKontakte and Telegram, was mentioned on the WEF website as a Young Global Leader in 2017, but he is not listed (anymore) in the official Young Global Leaders membership directory (he may have rejected the invitation).

Kirill Dmitriev (CEO of the Russian Direct Investment Fund) and Tigran Khudaverdian (Deputy CEO of IT company Yandex) are confirmed WEF Young Global Leaders from Russia. Furthermore, Herman Gref, CEO and Chairman of Russian Sberbank, was a member of the WEF Board of Trustees, but was removed in March 2022 after Russia invaded Ukraine.

Royal Members

Crown Princess Victoria of Sweden, Crown Prince Haakon of Norway, Crown Prince Fredrik of Denmark, King Willem-Alexander Ferdinand of the Netherlands, Prince Jaime de Bourbon de Parme (Netherlands), Queen Rania of Jordan, Princess Reema Bint Bandar Al-Saud, Queen Lalla Salma of Morocco, King Wangchuck of Bhutan.

2005 YGL Nomination Committee

The 2005 WEF Young Global Leaders Nomination Committee consisted primarily of major media publishers and editors, including Arthur Sulzberger and Steve Forbes (USA); James Murdoch, Jonathan Rothermere and Tom Glocer (UK); Arnaud Lagardère (France); Mathias Doepfner and Hubert Burda (Germany); Michael Ringer (Switzerland); and Carl-Johan Bonnier (Sweden).

Coronavirus Pandemic

During the coronavirus pandemic (2020-2022), several WEF Young Global Leaders played prominent roles, typically promoting zero-covid strategies, lockdowns, mask mandates, and digital ‘vaccine passports’. The following list names some of these Young Global Leaders.

Jeffrey Zients (US White House Coronavirus Response Coordinator), Stéphane Bancel (CEO of Moderna), Nathan Wolfe (EcoHealth, Global Viral, Metabiota), Jeremy Howard (founder of influential lobby group “Masks for All”), Leana Wen (zero-covid CNN medical analyst), Eric Feigl-Ding (zero-covid Twitter personality), Gavin Newsom (Governor of California, selected in 2005), Devi Sridhar (British-American zero-covid professor), Jacinda Ardern (Prime Minister of New Zealand), Greg Hunt (Australian Health Minister and former WEF strategy director), French President Emanuel Macron, Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz, German Chancellor Angela Merkel (selected in 1993), German Health Minister Jens Spahn, former British Prime Minister Tony Blair (a leading proponent of ‘global vaccine passports’), Jeffrey Sachs (Chair of the Lancet Covid Commission).

Read more: The WEF and the Pandemic (October 2021)

Fact Checks

  1. Was the mother of WEF founder Klaus Schwab a member of the Rothschild dynasty? No.
  2. Was the father of Klaus Schwab a high-ranking National Socialist or Wehrmacht general? No.
  3. Is Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau the son of Fidel Castro? Possible. (more)
  4. Does the WEF want people to “own nothing and be happy” by 2030? Read more.
  5. Was the founding of the World Economic Forum in 1971 a CFR/CIA initiative? Possible.

If indeed the founding of the WEF was a CFR/CIA Cold War initiative (similar to the left-wing “Congress for Cultural Freedom”, later exposed as a CIA platform), the WEF Young Global Leaders may have to be seen as CFR/CIA-selected political and economic leaders.

Digital Identity: The 2018 vision of the WEF

The WEF has been a leading proponent of digital biometric identity systems, arguing that they will make societies and industries more efficient, more productive and more secure. In July 2019, the WEF started a project to “shape the future of travel with biometric-enabled digital traveler identity management”. In addition, the WEF collaborates with the ID2020 alliance, which is funded by the Gates and Rockefeller foundations and runs a program to “provide digital ID with vaccines”.

Digital Identity: The vision of the World Economic Forum (WEF, 2018)

Video: “Penetrating the Cabinets” (2017)

In a speech in 2017 at the Harvard Kennedy School, WEF founder Klaus Schwab described one of the goals of the Young Global Leaders program as “penetrating the Cabinets”. However, his assertion that Russian President Vladimir Putin was a Young Global Leader was likely mistaken, and his assertion that “more than half” of the members of the Canadian Cabinet of Justin Trudeau were Young Global Leaders was likely an exaggeration (see above). Video: 3 minutes.

See also

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