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2019 Top 100 Global Thinkers- Source Foreign Policy

Editor’s Note

Welcome to Foreign Policy’s 10th annual special edition of Global Thinkers. A decade ago, in launching the series, FP’s then-editors wrote: “In a year of worldwide economic crisis and dangerous wars, of radical innovation and newfound realpolitik, street revolution and blunt rhetoric, we could think of no better way to make sense of it than through the big ideas of those who shape our understanding of the world.”

That insight works just as well now as it did 10 years ago. (And the description of the world is also almost as apt today as it was in 2009.) So this year we decided that there was no better way to explicate our current, wildly complex moment—and peer into the year ahead—than to focus once more on the thinkers and doers who had a profound impact on the planet in the last 12 months. The idea is not to honor do-gooders (though we feature plenty of them) but to shine a spotlight on some of the most influential people in the world—for better or worse.

Since this is the 10th anniversary of Global Thinkers, we decided to split this year’s list of 100 into 10 groups. To start things off, we singled out 10 nominees who—by our highly scientific calculations—have had the greatest impact on the past decade. After that are people 40 and under, followed by the most influential minds in the areas of defense and security, energy and climate, technology, economics and business, science and health, and activism and the arts. Since we’re sure that you will disagree with some of our inclusions and omissions, we added a category of Global Thinkers chosen through an online readers’ poll. And since so many amazing people died in 2018, we featured some of them as well, in a category we call The Departed.

Of course, part of the fun of assembling a list such as this is the opportunity to ask its members questions and to ask other prominent thinkers to write about our Global Thinkers. Robert Kagan kicks things off by explaining why 2018 was the year of the strongman—and 2019 may be too. Asked what we should anticipate this year, Fareed Zakaria, who was first named a Global Thinker in 2009, responds with an essaydescribing how economics was the key to understanding the last several decades but can no longer play that role today. That’s not to say economists aren’t still important, of course. They remain vital, which is why we turned to Douglas Irwin—who has recently emerged as one of the best interpreters of U.S. President Donald Trump’s expanding trade wars—to predict how those battles will play out in 2019. Meanwhile, the International Monetary Fund’s managing director, Christine Lagarde, who has been a Global Thinker many times over, looks at how well the world recovered from the Great Recession of a decade ago and what must be done to prevent another one.

Also read:  CS Amina Mohamed, the early front runner for WTO Job

One of the reasons economics can’t explain everything is because some problems defy our brains’ ability to fully comprehend them; we just can’t wrap our heads around them. Climate change is probably the best example of this phenomenon—which is why we asked an artist, the novelist Amitav Ghosh, to take it on. In an essay looking back at the chaos caused by the world’s last great climate shift—the Little Ice Age, which peaked between the 15th and 18th centuries—he tries to predict the kinds of ecological, social, and political upheavals we should prepare for. Other topics, of course, are best left to the experts. So we turned to Gen. Stanley McChrystal, who led the U.S. military’s Joint Special Operations Command, to describeone of his nemeses: Qassem Suleimani, the head of Iran’s Quds Force and its chief Syria strategist. In a very different vein, Helen Clark, a past prime minister of New Zealand, details the many breakthroughs achieved by the current officeholder, Jacinda Ardern. Frank Mugisha, a Ugandan LGBT activist, reports on the international impact of Menaka Guruswamy’s successful fight to get India to overturn its gay sex ban. And Carlo Rovelli, the Italian-born theoretical physicist, presents a beautiful remembrance of his beloved colleague Stephen Hawking, who died in 2018.

Also read:  The End of Saudi Arabia’s Illusion

We’ve all heard about the wisdom of crowds, but some crowds are wiser than others. Recognizing this, we surveyed our entire list of Global Thinkers to get their collective predictions about the biggest challenges looming this year. We also asked some of them for reading lists and others about what they plan to do next. Put it all together, and you get a compelling, complex picture of our world today—and an intriguing, expert view into what’s about to come.

—Jonathan Tepperman

THE TOP 10 OF THE LAST 10 YEARS

The Strongman

Angela Merkel CHANCELLOR OF GERMANY

Barack ObamaFORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

Jack MaCO-FOUNDER AND EXECUTIVE CHAIRMAN, ALIBABA

The Women of the #MeToo Movement

Christine LagardeMANAGING DIRECTOR, INTERNATIONAL MONETARY FUND

Margrethe VestagerEUROPEAN COMMISSIONER FOR COMPETITION

Fareed Zakaria AUTHOR AND TV HOST

Bill and Melinda GatesCO-CHAIRS, BILL & MELINDA GATES FOUNDATION

Jeff Bezos FOUNDER AND CEO, AMAZON

40 & UNDER

Jacinda Ardern PRIME MINISTER OF NEW ZEALAND

Yue Xin ACTIVIST

Kim Jong Un LEADER OF NORTH KOREA

Mohammed bin SalmanCROWN PRINCE OF SAUDI ARABIA

Sebastian Kurz CHANCELLOR OF AUSTRIA

Leo Varadkar PRIME MINISTER OF IRELAND

Alexandria Ocasio-CortezU.S. REPRESENTATIVE FROM NEW YORK

Ronan Farrow JOURNALIST AND AUTHOR

Stephen MillerSENIOR ADVISOR TO U.S. PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP

Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani EMIR OF QATAR

DEFENSE & SECURITY

Qassem SuleimaniCOMMANDER OF IRAN’S QUDS FORCE

Ursula von der LeyenDEFENSE MINISTER OF GERMANY

Olga Sánchez CorderoINTERIOR SECRETARY OF MEXICO

Abiy Ahmed PRIME MINISTER OF ETHIOPIA

Gwynne ShotwellPRESIDENT AND CHIEF OPERATING OFFICER, SPACEX

Alex Karp CO-FOUNDER AND CEO, PALANTIR

Eliot HigginsJOURNALIST AND FOUNDER OF BELLINGCAT

Vladislav SurkovAIDE TO RUSSIAN PRESIDENT VLADIMIR PUTIN

Sheikh Hasina PRIME MINISTER OF BANGLADESH

Susi PudjiastutiMARITIME AFFAIRS AND FISHERIES MINISTER OF INDONESIA

ENERGY & CLIMATE

Jerry Brown GOVERNOR OF CALIFORNIA

Charif Souki CO-FOUNDER AND CHAIRMAN, TELLURIAN

Amitav Ghosh WRITER

Katharine HayhoeDIRECTOR OF THE CLIMATE SCIENCE CENTER AT TEXAS TECH UNIVERSITY

Fred KruppPRESIDENT, ENVIRONMENTAL DEFENSE FUND

Mike ZimmermanFOUNDER AND CEO, IONIC MATERIALS

Frank Bainimarama PRIME MINISTER OF FIJI

Lisa Murkowski U.S. SENATOR FROM ALASKA

Pete McCabePRESIDENT AND CEO OF ONSHORE WIND AT GE RENEWABLE ENERGY

Uma Valeti and Nicholas GenoveseCO-FOUNDERS, MEMPHIS MEATS

TECHNOLOGY

Yuval Noah Harari AUTHOR AND FUTURIST

Kai-Fu Lee VENTURE CAPITALIST AND WRITER

Jann Horn RESEARCHER, GOOGLE PROJECT ZERO

Susan Fowler WRITER

Alastair MactaggartBOARD CHAIR, CALIFORNIANS FOR CONSUMER PRIVACY

Lina KhanLEGAL FELLOW AT THE U.S. FEDERAL TRADE COMMISSION

Mukesh AmbaniCHAIRMAN AND MANAGING DIRECTOR, RELIANCE INDUSTRIES

Maciej Ceglowski FOUNDER AND CEO, PINBOARD

Lu WeiFORMER DIRECTOR OF THE CYBERSPACE ADMINISTRATION OF CHINA

Ian Goodfellow RESEARCH SCIENTIST, GOOGLE BRAIN

ECONOMICS & BUSINESS

Gina Miller BUSINESSWOMAN AND ACTIVIST

Michel Barnier EUROPE’S CHIEF BREXIT NEGOTIATOR

Adam ToozePROFESSOR OF HISTORY AT COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY

Gita GopinathCHIEF ECONOMIST OF THE INTERNATIONAL MONETARY FUND

Donald Tusk PRESIDENT OF THE EUROPEAN COUNCIL

Robert LighthizerUNITED STATES TRADE REPRESENTATIVE

Baba Ramdev YOGA GURU AND BUSINESSMAN

Douglas IrwinECONOMIST AND PROFESSOR AT DARTMOUTH COLLEGE

Yi Gang GOVERNOR OF THE PEOPLE’S BANK OF CHINA

Chrystia FreelandFOREIGN AFFAIRS MINISTER OF CANADA

SCIENCE & HEALTH

Leana Wen PRESIDENT, PLANNED PARENTHOOD

Michele De Luca STEM CELL BIOLOGIST

Carlo Rovelli THEORETICAL PHYSICIST AND WRITER

John Carreyrou INVESTIGATIVE JOURNALIST

Roopam Sharma SCIENTIST AND INVENTOR

Gregory Rockson CO-FOUNDER AND CEO, MPHARMA

Wayne KoffPRESIDENT AND CEO, HUMAN VACCINES PROJECT

Atul GawandeSURGEON, WRITER, AND PUBLIC HEALTH RESEARCHER

Mary-Claire King GENETICIST

Brian Gitta DIAGNOSTIC APP DEVELOPER

ACTIVISM & THE ARTS

Bobi Wine SINGER AND POLITICIAN

Donald GloverACTOR, SINGER, WRITER, AND DIRECTOR

Lena Waithe WRITER AND ACTOR

Menaka Guruswamy LAWYER

Shawn Zhang STUDENT ACTIVIST

N.K. Jemisin AUTHOR

Ruth E. Carter COSTUME DESIGNER

Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe OoREUTERS JOURNALISTS

Colin Kaepernick FOOTBALL PLAYER

The Parkland Students

READERS’ CHOICES

Audrey Tang DIGITAL MINISTER OF TAIWAN

Joey Joleen Mataele LGBT RIGHTS ACTIVIST

Moon Jae-in PRESIDENT OF SOUTH KOREA

Janelle Monáe ARTIST

Michelle BacheletUNITED NATIONS HIGH COMMISSIONER FOR HUMAN RIGHTS

Peter NavarroTRADE ADVISOR TO U.S. PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP

Jordan PetersonAUTHOR AND CLINICAL PSYCHOLOGIST

Michelle ObamaBEST-SELLING AUTHOR AND FORMER FIRST LADY OF THE UNITED STATES

Imran Khan PRIME MINISTER OF PAKISTAN

Nabeel Rajab BAHRAINI HUMAN RIGHTS ACTIVIST

THE DEPARTED

Marceline Loridan-Ivens1928-2018 | FILMMAKER AND WRITER

Kofi Annan 1938-2018 | DIPLOMAT

Jamal Khashoggi 1958-2018 | JOURNALIST

V.S. Naipaul 1932-2018 | WRITER

Koko the Gorilla 1971-2018 | COMMUNICATOR

Stephen Hawking 1942-2018 | PHYSICIST

Winnie Madikizela-Mandela1936-2018 | POLITICIAN

Bernard Lewis 1916-2018 | HISTORIAN

Anthony Bourdain1956-2018 | WRITER AND TV HOST

John McCain 1936-2018 | U.S. SENATOR

About Whispers from the North

Whispers from the North is an online platform that appreciates the ecological, cultural and socio-economic diversities of Northern Kenya. We also acknowledge that the lives of the communities of northern Kenya has been shaped by a number of intrinsic and extrinsic factors which have led to complex challenge that calls for a multifaceted approach.

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