Global Leadership Questionnaire
We seek to learn from successful leadership initiatives of the past in order to devise and refine more effective strategies for the global community to advance on humanity’s urgent priorities. Please share your valuable experiences so that all can benefit.
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Briefing on the UNOG — WAAS Leadership Project
"There is an urgent need to confront the world’s existential, evolutionary, ecological challenges with a renewed sense of leadership. Leadership is needed at all levels in all fields. It must be inspired by higher values, visionary ideas, and awareness of untapped opportunities. It has to be energized by courageous individuals, innovative organizations and the rising aspirations of global society." With these words, Garry Jacobs, President of the World Academy of Art & Science (WAAS), launched the UN — WAAS initiative titled “Global Leadership in the 21st Century” in front of representatives of UN member states, international organizations and civil society, at the Palais des Nations, Headquarters of the UN in Geneva, on November 8, 2019.
View full briefing and panel discussion
Project Overview
The initiative consists of a multi-stakeholder, multi-sectoral project highlighting innovative strategies and effective principles to accelerate the emergence of dynamic leadership for successful implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The project involves consultations with UN organizations, member states, business, scientific research and educational institutions, the arts, civil society and youth organizations. A two-day conference will be held at the UN in Geneva on October 27-28, 2020 followed by a report to the UN on educational and outreach strategies. View briefing presentation slides in pdf format at
What is transformational change?
Great transformations have taken place throughout history and with increasing frequency in the last century. Abolition of slavery, women’s suffrage, the end of colonialism that liberated 1/3rd of humanity, the founding of UN, affirmation of human rights in the UDHR, the spread of universal education, the environmental movement, the end of Cold War, the NPT and other nuclear arms control agreements, the democratic revolution in Eastern Europe, the founding of European Union and Eurozone are striking international instances. The achievements of Korea and Finland in education, WHO in health, abolition of famine in India by the Green Revolution, the American Civil Rights Movement, the end of Apartheid in S. Africa, and the reunification of Germany are a few national level examples.
What type of leadership makes transformational change possible?
When we recall momentous examples of transformational change in the past, we remember the dramatic results achieved but often overlook important lessons they offer for the future. In retrospect, we recall the facts but ignore the process that made them possible. Or we attribute these remarkable events to a one or a few extraordinary individuals or fortuitous circumstances. Rarely do we consider how something so marvelous and unexpected could have so suddenly taken place.

All great transformations are the result of many factors and expressions of fundamental social processes unfolding in time. The leadership that made them possible very often does include actions by some remarkable individuals, but not always and that is never the sole explanation. Sometimes a chain of events is set off by the proclamation of an ambitious goal, such as President Kennedy’s decision to put a man on the moon within a decade or India’s decision to achieve food self-sufficiency within five years. Other times great movements are set in motion by an inspiring book such as the Club of Rome’s "Limits to Growth". Or it may be the unexpected outbursts of public protests on university campuses during the 1960s and among school children today. It may be the initiative of an NGO such as IPPNW which won the Nobel Prize for campaigns to abolish nuclear weapons. Or the public policies of Finland and South Korea which transformed their educational systems by making it urgent national priority. These and a great many other factors can also act as powerful catalysts to launch and accelerate the process of social transformation.
8 Questions
Please submit your answers to the following questions as inputs to the project. Every single opinion matters.
1. What examples can you cite of highly effective leadership initiatives at the global, national or local level?
2. What lessons or principles can be drawn from these examples regarding effective leadership?
3. What innovative leadership initiatives do you know about that are currently being adopted by dynamic organizations?
4.What insights can be drawn from these examples to address pressing global challenges through innovative leadership initiatives?
5. What ideas/approaches do you propose to enhance and accelerate global progress on key goals?
6. What changes in thinking are needed to generate more effective actions?
7. What steps are needed to mobilize social initiative?
8. What innovative practices can be adopted for renewed multilateralism?
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