Canada's environment minister and CBC Television's programming director are among four Canadians named as young global leaders by the World Economic Forum.


Environment Minister John Baird, 38, was named a top young global leader along with the king of Bhutan and the queen of Morocco. ((Ivanoh Demers/Canadian Press))

The list of 245 executives, public figures and intellectuals under the age of 40 was released on Tuesday.

Canadians included Environment Minister John Baird, CBC executive Kirstine Layfield, Stornoway Diamonds Corp. CEO Eira Thomas and Aaron Pereira, co-founder of the non-profits CanadaHelps and Vartana.

Baird, 38, said he is honoured to receive the award.

"Like the World Economic Forum, our government recognizes that climate change is one of the greatest challenges facing the world today," he said in a statement. "We have demonstrated leadership by taking real action both at home and on the world's stage to tackle this issue."

Layfield, who joined the CBC in 2006, said she is pleased by the honour.

"I feel deeply privileged to be selected as a young global leader and work with a community of committed individuals from around the world to be a voice for our generation," said Layfield, 40, in a statement. "YGL's amazing networking opportunities will enrich my world view and ensure I have the broadest possible horizons." 

The award acknowledges "young leaders from around the world for their professional accomplishments, commitment to society and potential to contribute to shaping the future of the world."

Other 2008 recipients include the king of Bhutan, Jigme Singye Wangchuck; Queen Lalla Salma of Morocco; CNN host and reporter Anderson Cooper; actor Leonardo DiCaprio; Afghan Human Rights Commission head Ahmad Nader Nadery; and professional skateboarder Tony Hawk.

This year's winners were chosen from a nominee pool of 5,000 by a selection committee of 31 international media leaders, including the publishers of the Wall Street Journal and New York Times and the CEO of Reuters.

Previous Canadian recipients include MPs Scott Brison, Rona Ambrose and Belinda Stronach.