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2018 Global Youth Leadership Forum in Baku

In celebration of the 50th Anniversary of Special Olympics, the 2018 Global Youth Leadership Forum comes to Baku, Azerbaijan from 24 to 28 September.
Special Olympics Athlete standing at podium with representative behind her.

120 youth leaders with and without intellectual disabilities from 45 countries will gather in Baku, Azerbaijan. The Forum, which is one of the flagship events to mark the 50th Anniversary of Special Olympics, will see these young leaders and an additional 100 adult leaders from around the world develop group projects to create more inclusive communities in their home countries.

Global Youth Leadership Forum advertisement that reads: 220 youth and adult leaders; 45 countries; creating an inclusive world building a unified generation. Text on the bottom that reads: Special Olympics Global Youth Leadership Forum; Bake, Azerbaijan; 24-28 September 2018. Three images are included on the left side of the add that depict Special Olympics athletes participating in a forum.

Empowering participants to drive social inclusion

At the Forum, which is run in partnership with Ministry of Youth and Sport of the Republic of Azerbaijan among others, youth leaders will have opportunities to develop and expand their understanding of how they can drive social inclusion in their country. They will explore new strategies and actions from globally recognized experts in leadership to help advance a more inclusive world using the Special Olympics Unified Sports platform—where participants train and compete together.

Representatives from the worlds of sport, business, government, service organisations and international development such as Special Olympics Global Ambassador Vanja Grbic and Special Olympics International Board member Natalia Vodianova will also play a crucial part at the Forum and work to inspire the youth leaders.

Group projects

The youth leaders will develop projects in Baku to be implemented in their home countries in the months after the Forum. These projects, which will be supported through grants from Special Olympics International, are expected to result in 8,500 young people being newly engaged in inclusive sports and leadership activities in 250 new Unified Schools and sports clubs worldwide.

Story map

Access the 'Story Map' providing youth delegations profiles.


The five-day Forum is being supported by the Ministry of Youth and Sport of the Republic of Azerbaijan as well as Lions Clubs International, the Stavros Niarchos Foundation, the DC Lion’s Heart Foundation, Qarabağ FK, UNFPA, Azerbaijan Volleyball Federation, Azerbaijan Gymnastics Federation, The Coca-Cola Company and INSEAD.