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LEAD’s mission is to inspire leadership and change for a sustainable world.  We will carry out our mission by identifying outstanding people across sectors and cultures, developing their leadership potential and understanding of sustainable development, and mobilizing and supporting them as a network to achieve the change required.


LEAD has a vision of a sustainable world where the leadership potential of people and communities is developed, they are able to collaborate across sectors and cultures, and they can find and deliver sustainable solutions at the local and global level.


Our Story

LEAD was founded in 1991 as an initiative of the Rockefeller Foundation, one of the oldest and largest private charitable organizations in the world. The idea of LEAD grew out of discussions between the Rockefeller Foundation and Gro Harlem Bruntland following the publication of her Commission’s seminal report in 1987 (The Brundtland Commission).


There was an identified need to develop and support a new generation of leaders who, equipped with a fresh combination of skills and perspectives, would be linked through their experience and careers in a global network focused on environmentally sound development.



As the world was preparing for the 1992 Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro, LEAD was born. Since then, we have been recruiting talented individuals from key sectors and professions all over the world to be part of a growing network now standing at over 2400 leaders, who are committed to changing the world.

Every one of our leaders is a graduate of LEAD’s Fellows Training Program, an intensive and demanding program designed to enhance leadership ability, strengthen sustainable development knowledge and foster the relationships that will continue to support our Fellows in their work. This cross-sectoral, cross-cultural program has been at the heart of LEAD activities across the globe.

Through our expanding activities, the LEAD network now reaches out to thousands of individuals every year. Our participants include business executives, government policy makers, university professors, NGO directors, education specialists, and media professionals, all of whom are working to make a difference at local, regional and global levels.