University of Vermont

University Communications

World Economic Forum Honors UVM Professor

Saleem Ali, professor of environmental studies at the University of Vermont, has been selected by the World Economic Forum in Geneva, Switzerland, as a Young Global Leader for 2011.

The Forum identified 190 leaders under the age of 40 from 65 countries for their professional accomplishments, commitment to society, and potential to contribute to shaping a better future for the world.

“My goal is to use this opportunity to develop a series of collaborative environmental education programs between countries of South Asia,” says Ali, an expert on conflict resolution. “As a Pakistani-American, I am particularly keen to engage with Indians and Indian-Americans in this regard.”

The author of several books, including one on trans-boundary peace parks, Ali sees the award as an extension of his work to use environmental resources for solving geopolitical tensions. “Finding ways by which the environment can help to develop our economies while also mitigating conflict remains a personal and professional commitment for me,” he says.

Ali’s first effort as part of the new award will be a forum on water cooperation between India and Pakistan that he will be helping to organize with other members of this year’s Young Global Leaders group in South Asia. The forum will be held in Ali’s family city of Lahore, Pakistan, in June.

“I am also planning to embark on an environmental education program jointly undertaken by children from religious and secular schools in Pakistan,” he says.

Drawn from a pool of almost 5,000 candidates, the Young Global Leaders 2011 were chosen by a selection committee chaired by Queen Rania Al Abdullah of Jordan.

The World Economic Forum

“I am deeply honored to be chosen as one of the nominees this year,” says Ali, one of only two people selected from Pakistan. “The World Economic Forum has become a ‘global commons’ for a unique set of interactions between the public and private sectors. CEOs and heads of state converge at the annual gathering of this organization held in Davos, Switzerland, which has become a prime global event.”

“But the WEF is far more than just an annual meeting of high-rollers,” Ali says. “It represents an effort to get a truly global and integrative perspective on intractable problems facing the world economy.”

Incorporated as a not-for-profit foundation in 1971, The World Economic Forum is an independent international organization committed to improving the state of the world by engaging business, political, academic and other leaders of society to shape global, regional, and industry agendas.

“No doubt the forum has its detractors who suggest that it promotes ‘group-think’ or is too conventional in its approach to economics -- but that has changed in the last few years,” Ali says. “The Young Global Leaders program is an attempt to inject new ideas into solving complex planetary problems.”