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Recent events such as the Eurozone crisis, the developments in the Middle East, as well as the emergence of new economic and geopolitical powers have proven beyond a doubt that our world is more volatile, complex and interdependent than ever. They also demonstrate more urgently that, as we move into a new hyperconnected era, new breakthrough ideas and innovative solutions are needed to address the challenges we face and make the most of the opportunities presented to us.

This is the role of the Network of Global Agenda Councils. Established in 2008 to provide new pathways to address global challenges, it has since grown into the world’s most significant intellectual network.

The Network is more than just a brains trust. Ideas and thought leadership generated during each Council term inform global debate, including the programme of the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting, and serve as an action-oriented platform for transformational change. Through work conducted within individual Councils – organized along issues ranging from energy security to trade, education and emerging technologies – as well as in collaboration with other Councils, the depth and diversity of the Network’s membership is constantly being translated into powerful ideas for reshaping our future.

If there were one overarching theme running through the work of the Network in 2012, it would be an examination of new governance models and resilient growth strategies required for a new era. With a weakened multilateral system and traditional models of capitalism and democracy being called into question, the Global Agenda Councils have dedicated considerable time to assess how networked innovation can promote a more inclusive, more resource-efficient world.

The Council reports for the 2011-2012 term contain a wealth of concrete ideas, insights and initiatives. For instance, in 2012, our Council on Oceans launched a major initiative, the Ocean Health Index, which aims to help governments, leaders and the public manage this precious resource by providing the first global standard to assess oceans’ capacity for supporting human well-being. Oceans cover 71% of our planet’s surface. They contain vast ecosystems, cover extensive mineral resources and provide the primary source of protein for over 1 billion people. Maintaining their health is vital to the future of the planet.

At the same time, few issues unite the developing, emerging and developed worlds more than youth unemployment. With the number of young people set to rise significantly as millions more enter the job market, the Council on Youth Unemployment has developed and launched – with the help of partners in government, business and academia – a number of programmes aimed at getting young people working.

With such strong thought leadership and commitment from the world’s brightest minds, in fields as diverse as the international monetary system, intellectual property, health and wellness and space security, I am confident that 2012-2013 will be the Network’s most active year yet. For this, I would like to thank all Chairs, Vice-Chairs and Members for their outstanding contribution over the past 12 months, and look forward to another great year of collaboration within the Network, with our colleagues in the World Economic Forum and our partners in government, business, academia and civil society.

Martina Gmür, Senior Director and Head of the Network of Global Agenda Councils, World Economic Forum