The Forum of Young Global Leaders represents our best hopes for the future, especially in a world that needs better leadership on just about every major issue.

Since this unique community began seven years ago, its members have worked together and channelled their energies into enterprises that have benefited millions. They range from an initiative that has freed hundreds of millions of school-age children from parasitic worms, to a collaborative task force between company cafeterias and NGOs that is providing 23,300 children every day with school meals.

Today, we are adding 192 more exceptional young leaders (under the age of 40) from 59 countries into the community. Nominated from every region of the world and including all stakeholders (business, civil society, social entrepreneurs, politics and government, arts and culture, and the media), these Young Global Leaders will be part of an exceptional community who are committing their energy and knowledge to the most critical issues facing humankind.

This year’s selection was tough. We had 1,000 new nominations to add to our standing database of 5,000 young leaders that we tracked on an ongoing basis before reaching 192 for the next class. It’s a rigorous process in which we assess rapid career progression and altruistic entrepreneurship and how these individuals deliver results and overcome adversity.

The new class also gives a fascinating insight into the future of leadership. More than 50% of the honourees come from South Asia and East Asia and the emerging economies of the Middle East, Africa and Latin America. We are also seeing much better gender parity than we do among current world and business leaders – the future of leadership is more female and more regionally diverse.

Year after year, we’re seeing increasing numbers of leaders who want returns on their enterprises that benefit the global public interest and go beyond pure financial metrics. This bodes well for society and I feel there’s tremendous hope in seeing a group of leaders who are open, engaged and truly committed to improving the state of the world.

David Aikman is Senior Director, Head of Young Global Leaders at the World Economic Forum.

Meet the Young Global Leader class of 2012: Watch their videos here

Claire Boonstra, from the Netherlands, is a technology pioneer and co-founder of Layar a Netherlands-based firm specialising in “augmented reality” – a system of adding a digital layer to the physical world.

Suzanne Ehlers is the president and CEO of Population Action International, which advocates for women and families to have access to contraception in order to improve their health and reduce poverty. She is a leading advocate for promoting women’s empowerment worldwide and argues that female health is an integral development issue that impacts everything from the environment, to state stability, to food security.

Soulaima Gourani, from Denmark, is the CEO of Soulaima Gourani ApS and an expert in strategy and leadership. Special adviser to some of Scandinavia’s most demanding and ambitious companies, helping them overcome complex challenges and become more professional and passionate players in their industries.