Lee Howell

Executive Director, Villars Institute, Switzerland

Lee Howell is an experienced executive, educator, and editor with a multi-faceted and global professional background. He is the founding Executive Director of the Villars Institute, a Swiss nonprofit foundation dedicated to accelerating the transition to a net zero and nature positive economy by promoting systems leadership and intergenerational collaboration.

He is also a Titular Professor at the University of Geneva’s School of Economics and Management (GSEM), where he created their courses on the Fourth Industrial Revolution and Disruptive Technologies for undergraduate, masters, and executive MBA students. Lee serves on the Board of Governors of the International Baccalaureate (IB), an international foundation providing educational programs, including the IB Diploma, to more than 1.95 million students in over 5,600 schools in 159 countries. He also serves on the advisory board of the Global Learning Council, which focuses on the effective use of technology for systems-level solutions to improve learning outcomes for people of all ages and backgrounds.

Lee was previously the Managing Director at the World Economic Forum (WEF) responsible for the editorial and operational leadership of the Annual Meeting in Davos, Switzerland from 2009 until 2021. As head of global programming, he was also responsible for the design and development of the Annual Meeting of New Champions in China, the Sustainable Development Impact Summit in the United States, and the Annual Meeting of the Global Future Councils in the United Arab Emirates. Lee was also the Senior Director for Asia (2004-2009) and Editor-in-Chief of the WEF’s Global Risk Report (2012-2013).

Prior to joining the WEF, Lee worked on global issues at the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), Japan Society of New York, and Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS).

Lee is on the Board of Trustees of the EAT Foundation, a science-based global platform for food system transformation that supported the seminal research published by the EAT-Lancet Commission which introduced the concept of a Planetary Health Diet. He is also on the advisory board of the Frontiers Planet Prize, which celebrates breakthroughs in sustainability science by rewarding solutions (3 annual prizes of 1 million CHF) that show measurable potential to help humanity remain within the boundaries of the Earth’s ecosystem.

Lee continues to lecture at the University of St. Gallen where he completed his PhD and co- created a seminar on Disruption and Innovation in International Business for their top ranked CEMS programme. His articles and interviews have appeared in China’s People’s Daily, Japan’s Asahi Shimbun, India’s Economic Times, The New York Times as well as Foreign Affairs, New Scientist and TIME magazines. He also contributes articles to the Global Agenda (WEF).