Global Leadership for the 21st Century

Phase 1 Interim Report

GL-21 is intended to address the multidimensional global leadership challenges confronting humanity today by identifying catalytic strategies to shape and energize a more vibrant, inclusive, participatory multilateral system and generate fresh momentum for sustainable peace and human security. The project is founded on an inclusive conception of leadership that encompasses a very wide range of instruments, stakeholders and strategies.

This interim report is based on the research findings of 14 working groups and conferences involving a cross-section of more than 250 experts from multilateral institutions, governments, business, academia, civil society and the arts. It examines global challenges and opportunities and explores the potential for a wide range of catalytic initiatives to overcome obstacles to global progress. The report addresses five interdependent pillars of a comprehensive approach to building global leadership and social momentum—Redefining Multilateralism, Sustaining Peace and Human Security, Mobilizing Civil Society, Financing Implementation of the SDGs, and Transforming Global Education. Under each pillar it identifies key thrust areas for breakthrough initiatives. It also outlines issues to be addressed by working groups during webinars and debate at the upcoming conference in Geneva on November 24-25, 2020.

The report concludes that in spite of the unprecedented global challenges, there is a growing recognition among a wide range of international stakeholders that the current crisis situation also offers a unique opportunity to launch humanity into a more dynamic, equitable, resilient, and sustainable phase of global social evolution.

Global Leadership for the 21st Century
Palais des Nations, Geneva
November 24-25, 2020

This is a Planetary Moment and a time for global leadership to generate Planetary Momentum. The United Nations Office at Geneva and World Academy of Art & Science in collaboration with partner organizations are conducting the plenary GL-21 conference on Peace, Multilateralism and Human Security. The conference will examine strategies and recommendations of this two-year project to fill the global leadership vacuum, enhance multilateral cooperation, promote human security, and accelerate implementation of the SDGs. Click here for more information.

The Context

Humanity confronts an acute nexus of challenges of unprecedented urgency, magnitude, and intensity. The global community is threatened simultaneously by the pressing exigency of the COVID-19 pandemic, severe economic recession, skyrocketing unemployment, a retreat from democracy to autocracy, polarization of society, resurgence of competitive nationalism, renewal of the arms race, and the existential threat posed by climate change.

Global peace and security, international relations and multilateral cooperation, democracy and rule of law, economy and finance, health and education, welfare and sustainable development are all under siege at precisely the moment when we are also confronted by an unprecedented crisis of public trust and confidence in our leaders, governments, international organizations, multinational corporations, financial institutions, the press and the media. 

The extreme pressure resulting from these multiple challenges has generated unprecedented awareness and consensus regarding the need for a rapid and radical change of course through the coordinated action of people, organizations and governments around the world. It has opened minds and released social energies to an extent not witnessed since 1945. The world community is compelled to seek new ways to fill the global leadership vacuum to transform this planetary moment into momentum for catalytic change.

The sense of great urgency is neither exaggerated nor imaginary. Time is of the essence. There is no room for complacency. There is no justification for defending discredited theories, vested interests, and a return to business as usual based on ideas and practices that have brought us so close to this precipice. Daily we see signs of a further backsliding from many of the most precious gains achieved since the end of the Cold War.

The Leadership Challenge

The world continues to face grave global challenges that no single Member State or organization can address alone.

– António Guterres
UN Secretary General1

At the end of World War II, the world was emerging from five years of horrendous conflict. The victors in that war established the United Nations in an effort to avoid any repetition of the two catastrophic events which wracked the first half of the 20th century. They had the advantage of a temporarily dominant position of leadership combined with the hindsight of calamities to be avoided and the widespread support of people and nations eager to prevent recurrence of global calamity.

Today the situation is different. The threats lie still before us, not behind. We can no longer rely on recent bitter memories and hindsight. The future that is approaching with such rapidity is filled with uncertainty. Although there were voices which warned of the danger of a global pandemic, only now that it is upon us has the magnitude of the calamity become apparent. Similar voices have been warning for decades about the approaching calamity of climate change, but still dissenting voices contest and vested interests reject the warning in spite of the overwhelming evidence of science corroborated with increasing frequency by natural events.

The challenges today are far greater in number, intensity and complexity than on any previous occasion. Unlike 1945, they do not come at a time of broad-based international consensus, universally acknowledged leadership and unprecedented consolidation of power. Rather they come at a time when ideas, beliefs, policies, systems and strategies are hotly contested; trust and confidence in both institutions and individual leaders are at a low ebb; there is a far larger number and variety of influential stakeholders; and power is more broadly distributed among nation-states and also among other groups, including business, civil society and science.

Our challenge is to convert unparalleled crises into opportunities for global social progress. The situation calls for more dynamic, varied, creative and distributed forms of leadership backed by more inclusive, effective, and networked forms of multilateral coordination that mobilize the full spectrum of global stakeholders acting on behalf of all humanity. 

GL-21 Project

In this context, the United Nations Office at Geneva (UNOG) and the World Academy of Art & Science (WAAS) have launched a multi-stakeholder, multi-sectoral project in collaboration with more than 20 partner organizations to identify effective principles and innovative strategies to accelerate the emergence of dynamic and effective Global Leadership for the 21st century.

The aim of this multi-stakeholder, multi-sectoral initiative is to identify strategies and principles for a new dynamic and transformative leadership to successfully accelerate progress on pressing global challenges, including the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals.

– Tatiana Valovaya, Director General, UNOG

GL-21 is predicated on an understanding of leadership as a conscious instrument to convert the long slow process of social evolution into a conscious process of social transformation. But any transformative process must start from where we are with full cognizance of the obstacles to be overcome and full knowledge of the process by which they can be surmounted. Idealistic solutions may provide us a destination to strive towards in the future. But right now we need actionable catalytic strategies which begin from where we are with the resources at our disposal to support immediate and effective action.

Our urgent task is to fill the current leadership vacuum by generating greater levels of awareness, energy, commitment, institutional dynamism, operational innovation and social engagement and to continuously enhance them to achieve progressively higher levels of momentum. GL-21 has been initiated for this purpose.

The project is based on a comprehensive concept of leadership as a living social process. It encompasses the full spectrum of actors, strategies and instruments for directing and accelerating the evolution of global society. It can be generated by visionary individual initiative and dynamic organizational innovation by international organizations, national governments, scientific academies and research institutions, business and financial institutions, the media, the arts and humanities, culture, civil society and youth groups. It can also be created by building greater consensus and support for the inspiring values and objectives embodied in the Sustainable Development Goals. So too it can be generated by forming new coalitions and collaborative networks, formulating more appropriate metrics for assessing progress, framing more effective laws and policies, and countless other types of leadership initiative at all levels of global society. It can culminate by generating momentum for a global movement to support conscious social transformation.2,3

Effective leadership requires an inclusive synthetic vision of the whole and its constituent parts, and their interrelations with one another. GL-21 is based on an integral perspective of social reality in which all levels, sectors and stakeholders are complementary dimensions of a single whole, interconnected, interdependent and inseparable from one another. The figure above represents the main issues examined by GL-21 and their interplay with crosscutting social agencies, all intersecting and converging as challenges and opportunities for global leadership. Trans-disciplinary interdependence is self-evident across the hexagon.

The project is divided into three phases:

  • Phase I – Examination of challenges and their root causes and exploration of potential remedies and Catalytic Strategies as outlined in this Interim Report;
  • Phase II – Formulation, Analysis and Debate of emergent opportunities for presentation at Geneva conference;
  • Phase III – Final Recommendations, Conclusions for the Final Report to UNOG, Communication and Educational Outreach Strategies.

Phase I Working Groups and Exploratory Conferences

The objective of the first phase of GL-21 was to identify and analyze major global challenges and their underlying root causes, research alternative strategies and models, and explore innovative catalytic strategies and proven projects which can be applied, replicated or scaled up for greater impact.

Fourteen working groups were constituted to identify key issues and opportunities for examination. The methodology included consultations, interviews, webinars and conferences with leaders and expert representatives of international organizations, national governments, scientific academies and research institutions, universities, business and finance, and civil society organizations, with special emphasis on youth groups. 

In June 2020 UNOG and WAAS invited 20 partner organizations to participate in a five-day exploratory e-conference on “Strategies for Transformative Global Leadership”. The objective of the conference was to identify catalytic strategies and successful initiatives to fill the global leadership gap and generate positive momentum for progress. The event involved more than 200 speakers in 35 special sessions covering political, economic, financial, educational, health, technological, scientific, social, cultural and ecological issues. This was followed by a series of panel discussions and smaller meetings on specific subjects in collaboration with partner organizations. Papers and proceedings from these events are available on the WAAS Website.

Phase II Research and Geneva Conference

The Working Groups, June e-conference, webinars, articles and working papers generated in association with GL-21 identified a number of high potential areas in which catalytic initiatives can be undertaken to enhance leadership in different sectors and at different levels of the global community.

The findings of Phase I are now being processed to formulate perspectives, catalytic strategies and initiatives for presentation and discussion at the main conference at UNOG in Geneva in late 2020.

The conference will be organized into five interrelated pillars or themes as discussed in this report:

  1. Redefining Multilateralism
  2. Sustaining Peace, Human Security & Resilience
  3. Mobilizing Civil Society
  4. Financing Implementation of SDGs
  5. Transforming Global Education

The recommendations and conclusions of the Geneva conference will constitute the core of the GL-21 Final Report, to be followed and disseminated through public communication, educational and other outreach strategies.

This interim report presents a synthetic representation of the five themes and specific leadership issues and opportunities to be examined and developed during Phase II and presented at the Geneva Conference.

1. Redefining Multilateralism

There is a compelling need to redefine our conception of multilateralism and the institutional system constituted to support it. Multilateralism needs to be reshaped to take into account the proliferation in the number, variety and diversity of stakeholders acting globally, the growing volume and speed of international interactions and transactions taking place, and the increasing complexity of international relations. Its concept of security needs to be modified to reflect a mutation in the sources and nature of conflict and insecurity from war between nation-states to internal weaknesses within states, resulting from political instability, ethnic or religious strife, administrative incapacity, economic breakdown, natural calamity or environmental degradation. Its focus needs to be broadened from territorial issues to encompass a wide range of non-material, cross-border factors, including information flows, financial flows, trade, intellectual property rights, technological dissemination. Its priorities need to be reordered to effectively address threats arising from the COVID-19 pandemic, unemployment, food insecurity and climate change. Its institutions, strategies and policies need to be coordinated and integrated in response to the growing interdependence and complexity of global society, which renders ineffective piecemeal strategies and policies implemented by specialized, sectoral institutions acting independently. We live in an increasingly globalized, interconnected world in which global challenges can only be solved through comprehensive, integrated strategies implemented by coordinated collective action.

How do we ensure that we come out of this wiser, with stronger, modernized, invigorated approaches to deal better with the next crisis? We need to bring in the voices of we the peoples. This cannot be left to political interests alone. This cannot be left to short term thinking alone.

– Fabrizio Hochschild-Drummond, Special Adviser to the Secretary-General on the Commemoration of the UN 75th Anniversary4

A new form of multilateralism or plurilateralism is needed that effectively engages a substantially larger number and wider range of stakeholders. Changes in the global system can only be achieved with the active and vocal involvement of global civil society unleashing a global social movement. Multilateral institutions must be remolded to foster close collaboration between specialized agencies, support more decentralized and dynamic management and leadership initiatives, and devise and implement more effective ways to bridge the vast distance and surmount the barriers that separate “we the people” from decision-making in international affairs.

Building stable, democratic, prosperous, resilient societies is the antidote to human insecurity. A major paradigm shift is urgently needed to a more inclusive, representative, participative, multi-stakeholder system of global governance equipped to understand and respond to the speed and complexity of the issues we face, and committed to realize the comprehensive agenda of human security goals set forth by the world community. Whatever the shortfalls in the present system, its achievements have been enormous and the need for a multilateral system today is greater than ever before. There is simply no viable alternative to multilateralism. In today’s interconnected and interdependent world, governments and intergovernmental organizations alone cannot effectively address complex global challenges. These challenges require our collective response.

This report addresses the issues under Pillar 1 Defining Multilateralism under the following five headings.

1.1. Evolving Global Context

Reshaping multilateralism needs to take into account fundamental changes taking place in the world today. Recent events have generated a deep awareness of the need for radical change, not merely reforms or a return to an earlier form of imperfectly engineered system. A convergence of tipping points and acceleration of timelines threaten to undermine the stability of the current global system.

The international system has become much more inclusive than ever before. For the first time in the history of mankind, it includes nearly all of humanity. The number and diversity of stakeholders acting globally, the volume of international interactions, the interdependence and complexity of the engagements have all expanded beyond imagination. A global identity, a global sense of community, a shared global commons, and a shared global culture are gradually emerging.

There has also been a deep mutation in the nature of conflict. At the same time the sources of conflict are also changing. Wars used to be a matter of competition between powers. Weakness is replacing power as the source of conflict and war. Problems resulting from the flight of political, economic and environmental security now present more dangerous threats to global peace than superpower rivalry. These diverse causes of insecurity are turning the international environment upside down.

Traditional boundaries are becoming blurred. The territorial notion of politics has been altered by a wide range of non-material, increasingly fluid and rapidly changing cross-border factors, including information flows, financial flows, trade, intellectual property rights, technological dissemination, the spread of social movements. All of the major crises confronting humanity today are multi- and intersectoral with respect to both their causes and the requisite solutions.

The world today is also increasingly integrated. As society has expanded horizontally to encompass the whole world, its various dimensions, sectors and dimensions of activity have become increasingly interrelated and interdependent with one another. The multilateral system has to be reshaped to address a far wider range of issues as inseparable dimensions of a complex and increasingly integrated global system. It also has to be empowered with the mandate, authority, resources and commitment of member states required to meet the global challenges to Human Security prevailing today. It has to be capable of transcending disciplinary and institutional silos to address the complex interactions and interdependencies between different fields of social existence that cannot be addressed by the specialized action of narrow sectoral institutions, policies and programs.

These fundamental changes—greater inclusivity, mutation of the nature of conflict, increasing mobility and
complexity—reflect a profound transformation in the nature of international relations. As a result of them, the notion of interstate relations no longer adequately captures the nature of the global community or the challenges of global governance. The COVID-19 pandemic is only the most recent and dramatic expression of challenges far beyond what was anticipated when the present global system was founded and they can only be effectively addressed by radically redefining or reinventing the multilateral system.

Issues under examination

This heading focuses on the need for changes in the multilateral system generated by broader developments in global society. It will examine the circumstances that account for the current global leadership vacuum, necessitate deep changes in the structure and functioning of the multilateral system, call for new forms of leadership, and open up new opportunities for break-through initiatives.

  1. Limitations imposed by the original constitution and structure of the UN system on its capacities for effective action.
  2. Changing conditions and circumstances which necessitate actions to substantially strengthen the multilateral system.
  3. Implications of the changes in the types and distribution of power in international relations for efforts to define or invent a more effective multilateral system.
  4. Opportunities for enhancing the effectiveness of multilateralism arising from the evolution of global society.
  5. Multilateral institutions as a counterweight against the retreat to unilateral and bilateral initiatives.

1.2. Rethinking Multilateral Institutions

The multilateral system is evolving with the evolution of global society and gradually giving shape to an increasingly interconnected global community with shared values and common interests.

We need an inclusive multilateralism, drawing on the critical contributions of civil society, business, foundations, the research community, local authorities, cities and regional governments... We must ensure that its stakeholder engagement mechanisms become more agile, empowering and representative.

– António Guterres, UN Secretary General

Efforts to reform the UN system in past decades have usually met with stiff opposition from member states as well as by internal resistance to change from within the organization. Thus, only piecemeal additions and incremental improvements have generally been made. But in spite of this resistance, substantial changes have been brought about by bold leadership in concert with the inexorable pressure of the forces of global social evolution.

When the UN was founded by 51 nations in 1945, none anticipated that within 15 years the entire global systems of empires would virtually dissolve into thin air, emancipating nearly one-third of humanity, and the number of nation-states would eventually multiply three-fold.5 In spite of the dominance of the Security Council, the General Assembly has acquired greater power and significance than was originally intended.

None could foresee in 1948 that the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which was established as a set of idealistic principles without legal status or means of enforcement, would in coming decades acquire increasing force in international law and become the foundation for the Sustainable Development Goals adopted unanimously by 193 nations in 2015. And many other initiatives such as the International Campaign to Ban Landmines and the International Court of Justice’s advisory opinion on the legality of nuclear weapons have in fact altered the status quo and balance of power in some important areas.

A review and reassessment of international institutions is needed to identify needs and opportunities to align its mandate, structures, strategies, policies and funding to enhance their capabilities to preserve peace and promote human wellbeing. The pressure generated by multidimensional challenges can be leveraged to overcome resistances and initiate catalytic change processes both from within and from outside the UN system.

Issues under Examination

This heading will engage a cross-section of stakeholders from government, business, academia and civil society to explore catalytic strategies to expand multilateralism through multi-sectoral networks.

  1. Potential ways to make the multilateral system fit for purpose in the 21st century.
  2. Identification of underutilized sources of power which can be harnessed to support positive transformations of the international system.
  3. Reformulating the UN’s role and strategy in guiding the process of global evolution.
  4. Integrating strategy and structure for optimal performance by breaking down silos, inter-agency coordination, and closer networking between IGOs and with other stakeholders.
  5. Catalytic strategies for impactful changes in the multilateral system both from within and outside the system.

1.3. Distributed Leadership

Leadership capabilities are needed at all levels of the multilateral system as well as in national missions and governments, international business, civil society and other organizations. Moreover, the key to effective leadership is reflected in the capacity of organizations to generate multiple levels of effective leadership and to distribute authority accordingly both down the line and out from headquarters to regional and national officers.

This heading will engage a cross-section of stakeholders from government, business, academia and civil society to explore catalytic strategies to expand multilateralism through multi-sectoral networks.

There is a need for distributed leadership. We have to give more power to people at different levels of the international organizations. We can do a lot within the existing system, even given the reduction of some budgetary contributions.

– Tibor Tóth, Ambassador, Exec. Secretary Emeritus, CTBTO; WAAS Trustee

Issues under Examination

  1. Expanding stakeholder participation in the multilateral system
  2. Impact of the transformation of the global community on the potential contributions and appropriate roles for a wider range of stakeholder groups.
  3. Promoting decentralized leadership and initiative
  4. Enhancing leadership development programs and standards of performance evaluation

1.4. Building Trust in Multilateralism

Strengthening multilateralism is absolutely essential for humanity to effectively address the global challenges confronting the world today. Yet some UN member states and large portions of humanity lack confidence in the value of multilateralism, either underestimate its importance or rely on unilateral and bilateral initiatives which undermine its power to serve the human community.

The UN system was established to serve its member states and the human community rather than to exercise authority over them. It depends for its mission on trust and confidence far more than on power. Anything that enhances public trust and confidence in the multilateral system enhances its capacity for effective service. Anything that diminishes public perception impairs its functioning as well as that of the tens of thousands of UN staff whose motivation is strongly influenced by public perceptions of the UN system.

In a June 2020 survey by GlobeScan, citizens of 27 representative member-states expressed just under twice the level of trust in the UN system (26%) than as they had in national government (15%) and more than twice that of global companies (12%). But both these figures were far below the ratings for medical professionals (81%), science/academic institutions (73%), NGOs (41%). These figures reflect a general decline in respect and trust for all types of social institutions in times of great uncertainty about the future. But they also highlight an opportunity that can be leveraged to strengthen the UN system and enhance its effectiveness by strategies which strive to further build greater confidence and trust among the citizenship of member countries.

Efforts are needed to overcome the “communications deficit,” which refers to the need for the UN to more effectively communicate the essential role it plays and the real-life impact of its work.

Issues under Examination

This heading will engage leaders of UN agencies, prominent international civil society organizations and the media to explore innovative strategies that can be adopted to enhance awareness, knowledge, understanding and support for multilateralism through relations with its vast and diverse network of stakeholders around the world as a means to strengthen support for the UN at a time when it is more vitally needed than ever before.

  1. Strategies to enhance the public impact image of existing UN initiatives with parliaments, cities, business, academia, NGOs, educational institutions and other civil society organizations.
  2. Strategies to foster a common global human identity and consciousness
  3. Strategies to enhance public confidence and support for international organizations and multilateral initiatives.

1.5. UN Culture

The UN system is an unprecedented cultural experiment striving to evolve an effective working organizational culture that respects and harmonizes the enormous cultural diversity of global society. The structure, authority and policies of UN agencies are largely shaped by UN member states, which imposes limits on the capacity for leadership initiative, the authority of management for execution, and the organizational effectiveness of multilateral institutions. But the culture of the UN is also shaped to a great extent by the values, cultural traditions, education and experience of its large and diverse multinational work force in constant relationship with one another and with representatives of member states and other stakeholders.

As every multinational corporation knows from experience, cultural diversity presents serious challenges to organizational dynamism and effectiveness, and nowhere are those challenges greater than in the international institutions for global governance. These challenges arise not only from the diversity of cultures involved, but also due to the rapid evolution of organizational cultures in response to globalization and technological innovations and due to growing gap in values, expectations and acceptable behavior between younger and older generations.

All three combine to magnify and multiply the challenges of evolving a more effective, contemporary culture for the UN system. Differences are inevitable between the cultural expectations and organizational conduct of management and staff, a culturally diverse workforce, younger and older generations, the functioning of semi-autonomous agencies, agency-national relations, and interface with the wider global community.

In spite of these constraints, effective catalytic strategies can be applied to enhance energy-levels, dynamism, responsiveness, operational efficiency and flexibility, innovation and creativity, and organizational resilience within the UN system. Measures can be introduced to flatten hierarchical structures, promote decentralization of authority, delegate and accelerate decision-making, foster coordination within and between agencies, enhance vertical and horizontal communications, streamline bureaucratic administration, foster intra- and inter-agency coordination and cooperation, enhance freedom for initiative, raise staff involvement and morale, improve performance metrics and staff recognition. Culture change can energize and transform the UN system and dramatically enhance the impact of its work.

Maximizing efforts to enhance organizational effectiveness, staff engagement and cultural harmony within the UN system will improve the perceptions of member states and the general public worldwide and pave the way for more fundamental and essential structural reforms that have been prevented by the absence of external support.

Issues under Examination

This heading engages UN staff, including members of Young UN, to explore energizing catalytic strategies to enhancing the human capacities, skills and attitudes of staff and the quality, efficiency, speed, effectiveness and impact of UN agency activities.

  1. Energizing UN identity, vision, mission and organizational values
  2. Enhancing intra- and inter-agency coordination
  3. Promoting organizational dynamism through value implementation and microsystem reforms
  4. Insulating politics from management
  5. Enhancing professionalism

2. Sustaining Peace, Human Security & Resilience

The current international security paradigm is incapable of addressing the multidimensional threats confronting modern civilization. The prevailing system places almost exclusive emphasis on military power. But the most serious security problems today are not the ones which wars create but the crises with the potential to create wars and massive migration along with the socio-political fallout generated by populism and fascism. Building stable, democratic, prosperous, resilient societies is the only effective antidote to sustainable peace and human security.

Security is a perception that depends on trust, which in turn depends on quality of leadership and transparency of governance...True transformative leadership is all about “uncorking” the future, rather than trying to rekindle the past.

– Alexander Likhotal, Former President, Green Cross International; WAAS Fellow6

A major paradigm shift is urgently needed to create a more inclusive, representative, participative, multi-stakeholder system of global security system equipped to take a leadership role in responding to the complex nexus of security threats issues and committed to realize the comprehensive agenda of human security goals set forth by the world community. This is the most appropriate leadership task of the UN system and its member nations on the 75th anniversary of its founding.

Nobody is safe in a world of pandemics, weapons of mass destruction and climate change unless and until all are safe. Human security is not possible without economic, social and ecological stability and resilience. We need to design resilience into our social systems. The paradigm shift to an inclusive, global human security perspective is essential to reshape and refocus the purpose and function of our global institutions to address the full spectrum of humanity’s security needs.

This report addresses the issues of Pillar 2: Sustaining Peace, Human Security & Resilience under the following five headings.

2.1. Cooperative Security, Sustaining Peace, Peace Building, Peace Keeping & Arms Control

COVID-19 is a wakeup call to transform our systems. The combination of the pandemic with the economic downturn, retreat from democracy to autocracy, polarization of society, rise of competitive nationalism and state capitalism, pressures of immigration, rising levels of inequality and the growing evidence of climate change represent a confluence of security threats—signs of a Super Bubble—with potentially devastating consequences for global society.

Our current security paradigm is ill-prepared and ill-suited to address challenges of this type. We are still entrenched in the old model based on the flawed belief that our security depends primarily on a strong military. The pandemic underlines the obvious fact that since the founding of the UN in 1945, the primary security threats are no longer violent conflicts between nation-states, but the concept of security determining the policies of nation-states remains heavily weighted by the bias toward military expenditures. For example, the total cost of universal COVID-19 vaccination for all humanity is unlikely to exceed 5 or 10% of total global military spending, while total global fatalities resulting from COVID-19 by Spring 2021 are forecast to be at least 12 times greater than total global fatalities resulting from violent conflicts during 2019.

We need to shift our thinking from the current competitive security paradigm to a more comprehensive inclusive focus on human rights, environment, employment, poverty, food security, education, health, and other dimensions of Peace and Human Security.

– Donato Kiniger-Passigli, Vice President, WAAS

Moreover, we need a shift from a competitive to a cooperative security system. All security arrangements of the past have been based on the concept of competitive security in which the security of each nation is perceived in terms of its military superiority over potential adversaries. The competitive security paradigm, whether pursued by individual nations or groups of nations, is fueling ever higher levels of military expenditure and higher levels of insecurity. The greater the military preparedness of one or group of countries, the greater the perceived threat or sense of insecurity of those who are not included within the system. Whereas in a truly cooperative security system, the maximum security of all is achieved by minimizing the investments of each and replacing self-reliance with shared security commitments.7

The concept of security is being skewed in the wrong direction. There is a perversity in the way we are allocating capital to prepare for war when resources are so urgently needed to enhance the welfare and wellbeing of people in order to reduce the likelihood of armed conflict. The current acceleration of global military spending reflects a return to the failed strategies of the past at a time when a cooperative and inclusive system is the only means to promote peace and security for all. A paradigm shift is needed in the minds of leaders and in the strategies of nation-states.

Issues under Examination

This heading engages members of different agencies, departments, funds and programs responsible for peacekeeping, arms control, emergency relief, food-security, immigration, refugees, including UNHCR, WFP, ILO, UNICEF, ICRC, WHO, CTBTO, inter alia.

  1. Implications of the changing nature of security threats for reconceptualizing the effective role of multilateral institutions in the global security framework
  2. Enhancing interagency coordination to anticipate, prevent and respond to emerging security threats
  3. Envisioning a common global cooperative security system fit for purpose
  4. Reviving the original concept of UN as a keeper of the peace and a non-partisan arbitrator rather than a peace enforcer while clarifying the purpose, scope and structure of UN Mandates
  5. Enhancing systemic trust in the UN as the institutional foundation for global security as a counter to the growing reliance on unilateral and bilateral initiatives which undermine the advantages of multilateralism

2.2. Advancing a Comprehensive Human Security Agenda

Human Security is a people- centered, comprehensive, holistic perspective, a unifying framework for addressing both the direct and root causes of insecurity.

– María Espinosa, President, 73rd UN General Assembly

Global leadership requires a re-evaluation of security risks, a reconceptualization of security strategies, and re-prioritization of security measures to address the real threats to human security. No country can be safe without a stable and vibrant economy, sufficient jobs for all job seekers, and a good and safe social policy. The nations which have proven resilient in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic are those which have already shifted to a broader conception of security that also encompasses economy, ecology, health, education, social welfare and wellbeing. Failure to address the human security threats will only lead to more wars, more migration, more cultural tensions, a greater shift to populism, social polarization, autocracy and even more conflict.

The pandemic is not only an unprecedented threat. It is also an unprecedented opportunity. For it has generated unprecedented awareness of the fragility of our present global social system and created a felt need for rapid transition to a more resilient system for human security. Human Security is a people-centered, comprehensive, holistic perspective, a unifying framework for addressing both the direct and root causes of insecurity. We all have a role to play in building a new social contract. And this new social contract has to be between society, the economy, politics and nature—a Global Green New Deal. So also, we have the responsibility to collectively craft a new culture of multilateralism, of cooperation and solidarity, a multilateral system that is inclusive, that is efficient, relevant, accountable and truly connected to people’s needs and lives.

The SDGs address all the major issues confronting humanity and they are all interrelated and interdependent. None can be addressed independently. Therefore, achievement of the SDGs is severely impeded by the fragmented nature of our scientific disciplines, academic courses, policy-making institutions and implementation agencies. There is need to establish new types of transdisciplinary multi-stakeholder international research programs and institutes to bridge the gaps between academic research, political action, public support and practical results.

The aim of these integrated initiatives would be to formulate, disseminate and support implementation of comprehensive, integrative, innovative strategies and policies by governments, business, NGOs and the general public to achieve the SDGs nationally, regionally and globally in the shortest possible time.

Issues under Examination

This heading seeks to reconcile the objectives of political, economic, financial, social, wellbeing and ecological dimensions of security. It examines security as a comprehensive, inclusive, integrated conception. It will highlight the interrelations and interdependencies between different dimensions of human security and its implications for action. It will also examine human security from an evolutionary perspective to better understand sustainable and resilient development as expressions of a social process rather than merely a set of measurable goals and standards.

  1. Implications of the concept of development as a multidimensional, integrated human social process for the design of technical assistance programs, the structure and functioning of UN agencies, and the implementation and assessment of development programs
  2. Implications of the interlinkages and interdependencies between dimensions on effective strategies to accelerate achievement of the SDGs
  3. Catalytic strategies for addressing the multi-dimensional challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic from an integrated, social process perspective
  4. Reconceptualizing development research as a multistakeholder, multidisciplinary integrated activity involving all stages from theory and analysis to policy-making, implementation and evaluation

2.3. Anti-Crisis Transition Economic Strategies

The current economic and financial system represents a major threat to national and international security. A retreat from international cooperation, trade wars, competitive nationalism, state capitalism, rising unemployment and inequality, and the growing role of money power and business in national governance are behind much of the deterioration in relations between nation states.

The 2008 financial crisis showed how vulnerable and unprepared states are to deal with the consequences of economic shocks. The EU and the Eurozone have been severely tested and are yet to fully recover the strength and cohesion they possessed more than a decade ago.

Many of the policies that precipitated the crisis in America which were discredited and suspended were restored with equal or greater prominence after 2016 and adopted by other nations, leaving the entire world economy more vulnerable than ever to the sudden impact of the pandemic on the world’s financial system and real economy. Beyond these immediate threats loom the potentially destabilizing impact of the 4th Industrial Revolution and climate change on unemployment, inequality, food-security, migration, social and political stability.

All the challenges we face today are global in nature and can only be effectively addressed by closer multilateral cooperation and coordination. A retreat to nationalist self-reliance will only exasperate the problems and reduce our capacity for effective action. A multi-track anti-crisis strategy is needed to promote recovery of the real economy combining innovative and conventional financing methods. Parallel electronic currency can provide the necessary resources for supporting investments in human capital to relieve the burden of the pandemic while also financing the transition to transform neoliberal capitalism into a sustainable, human-centered economic system. These can be combined with development of new asset classes such as green bonds, healthcare bonds, green credits, healthcare credits, etc. These investments can generate positive externalities far greater than those generated by current policies.

The Anti-Crisis program should also include replacing the linear cradle-to-grave resource model with a circular carbon-neutral economy, rapid transition to renewable energy, elimination of fossil fuel subsidies and investments in expansion of exploration and production, massive reforestation and other nature based solutions to restore degraded and endangered ecosystems, a floor price on carbon, global carbon tax, tax on short term speculative investments, etc. At the macro level the focus must be on social well-being indicators rather than GDP. At the micro level, ESGM (environmental, social, governance and medical) metrics are needed to drive business improvement.

Issues under Examination

This heading examines the dimensions of a comprehensive anti-crisis economic strategy. It focuses simultaneously on the goals of rapid recovery from the devastating impact of COVID-19 with rapid transformation of the economy to a more stable, inclusive, equitable and sustainable basis capable of redressing the excesses and misdirections of prevailing neoliberal economic models.

  1. Strategies reconciling economic growth with ecological sustainability
  2. Internalizing externalities to reflect the true cost and benefit of economic activities to real living standards, wealth-creation, wellbeing and sustainability
  3. Changing the metrics for evaluation of economic progress to reflect real impact on household living standards, economic equality, health, wellbeing, and ecological sustainability
  4. Redefining the appropriate blend of markets and governments, competition and regulation
  5. Eliminating the invisible barriers to equitable markets—regulatory capture and rent-seeking

2.4. Strategies for Full Employment

Impact of Pandemic on Jobs

The pandemic has wreaked havoc on global employment markets. The latest ILO report estimates that during the first quarter of 2020, an estimated 5.4 per cent of global working hours, equivalent to 155 million full-time jobs, were lost relative to the fourth quarter of 2019. Working- hour losses for the second quarter of 2020 relative to the last quarter of 2019 are estimated to reach 14.0 per cent worldwide, equivalent to 400 million full-time jobs.

COVID-19 has brought into stark relief the vulnerability and the critical role of employment as part of a comprehensive human security framework so essential to freedom, welfare, well-being and social stability. But job losses and rising levels of socio-economic insecurity and inequality due to the pandemic and the residual effects of the 2008 financial crisis are not the only cause of concern across the world. They add to the growing uncertainties about the future of human work in the era of AI, robotics and digital platforms. It is essential to avoid a repetition of the flawed quantitative easing programs launched in 2008 by the US and European nations which channeled trillions of dollars to reinforce failed economic principles and policies. It took five years for employment to return to pre-crisis levels. Once again we find that the COVID-19 stimulus packages in the US have mainly resulted in soaring equity prices at a time of deep recession rather than supporting growth of incomes and jobs. 

The job crisis is at the same time an opportunity to think about a New Social Contract in response to the destabilizing impact of financialization, neoliberalism and rising inequality. Full and productive employment is an essential condition for human security and a vibrant prosperous economy, as set forth in SDG Goal 8. Yet even before the COVID-19 pandemic wrought havoc on economies around the world, a large proportion of the working age population in most countries lacked access to steady, remunerative job opportunities, including a disproportionate number of women, those with disabilities and single parent families. High levels of unemployment are also associated with high levels of poverty among children. Unemployment is one of the principal sources of the soaring levels of inequality prevailing in many countries.

The responsibility of national governments for generation of employment has long been acknowledged, even in the capitalist world. Articles 23 and 24 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the New Deal and US Employment Act of 1946, and similar legislation in many other countries affirm the right to work, free choice of employment, just and favorable working conditions, and protection against unemployment. In a market economy, employment is the economic equivalent of the right to vote. Without access to remunerative job opportunities, freedom of citizens in democratic societies is severely limited. 

SDG Job Creation

Achieving the SDGs in the four sectors of food and agriculture, energy and materials, cities, and health care and well-being could create 380 million jobs by 2030. Nearly 90 percent of these would be in developing countries. The Better Business, Better World report found that implementing the Sustainable Development Goals could also unleash $17 trillion in profit. The Green New Deal proposals in USA and Green Deal in Europe both call for the introduction of major job creation programs, but there is urgent need to support massive employment security initiatives worldwide.

It is time that we stopped thinking of economic stimulus programs, public investment and tax cuts as the principal means for creating new jobs. Catalytic strategies that can generate new employment and self-employment opportunities on a very large scale include: job guarantee programs, complementary regional digital currencies designed to increase local circulation and velocity of money, access to investment and training for SMEs as the real engines of job creation, responsible public procurement programs targeting local sourcing, development of cooperative businesses and social enterprises, targeted vocational training and apprenticeship programs to fill the skill shortages, organizational innovation, and entrepreneurship. The key to job creation is to recognize that human beings are the most precious and underutilized of all our resources.

Actions that can dramatically enhance job creation include: shifting taxation from employment to resource taxes on non-renewable resources and carbon, elimination of fossil fuel subsidies, and tax on short term speculation. There is an urgent need for the formulation of a comprehensive theory that can be applied individually or in combination by countries at different levels of development. If economic systems based on current theory are unable to provide sufficient employment opportunities, the prevailing theory and its application must be replaced with new theory and new strategies.

Recognizing the right of every citizen to employment is the essential basis and the most effective strategy for generating the necessary political will to provide jobs for all.

– International Commission on Peace & Food 8

A major obstacle to full employment programs has been the belief that they are unaffordable and therefore unsustainable. Support for employment programs has also been reinforced by evidence that the full social, economic, political and environmental costs of unemployment in terms of lost productivity and GDP, deterioration of work skills and re-employability, poor nutrition, impaired physical and mental health care, drug and alcohol use, crime, violence, political polarization, extremism and social instability in all probability exceed the cost of providing sufficient job opportunities for all job seekers. High levels of unemployment can severely impact food and nutrition, physical and mental health, education, violence, crime, drug usage, political stability, democracy and human rights.

Issues under Examination

This heading engages experts in employment generating strategies to examine existing and proposed strategies for moving economies to full employment and the financial mechanisms available for doing so in a fiscally responsible and sustainable manner.

  1. The right to employment and its central place in strategies for human security
  2. Assessing the real social costs of prolonged unemployment
  3. Successful job creation strategies and programs
  4. Decentralized implementation of national programs to optimize community development
  5. Financing public job creation programs

2.5. Global Food Security

Due to the pandemic, life-threatening levels of food insecurity in the developing world are expected to nearly double in 2020 to 265 million. The majority of people suffering acute food insecurity in 2019 were in countries affected by conflict (77 million), climate change (34 million) and economic crises (24 million people).9 Malnutrition is further impacted both by closure of free and subsidized food to millions of school children. The largest numbers of vulnerable communities are concentrated countries that are already confronting security threats from poverty and military conflict and climate-related afflictions like drought, flooding and soil erosion.10
The primary problem is not shortage of food production, but rather problems of distribution and affordability due to poverty and rising levels of unemployment. Food remains widely available in most of the world, though prices have climbed in many countries, as fear of the virus disrupts transportation links, and as currencies fall in value, increasing the costs of imported items. Therefore, an integrated strategy is essential for achieving food security.

SDG 2 is dedicated to ending hunger in the world. Food security requires cooperation, coordination and leadership at the global level. Global food security requires the capacity to produce physical abundance of food; the capacity to create a responsive organization to link production, distribution and consumption; the capacity to create an integrated communications network for information and transactions; and the capacity for legal enforcement.

UN Food Systems Summit in 2021

A major opportunity to craft a well-organized global effort to address food security challenges. To ensure that the best practices of a few become the standard practices of the many, and that real partnerships for implementing actions on the ground are forged between all governments and regional banks, bilateral agencies, the private sector, NGOs, and the international organizations to support farmers and consumers in all countries.

The world possesses all these capacities at the present moment. But it must also be founded on and driven by the global recognition of food security as a fundamental and inviolable human right and the enshrinement of that right in law and treaty. Mere production of more food is not sufficient to eradicate hunger. In most countries access to gainful employment is now the single greatest challenge to achieving food security. Even in the most prosperous nations, employment opportunities and income security are subject to market forces and cannot be considered a source of absolute security.

Unless the right to food is legally enshrined and enforced, the specter of insecurity will remain. Security implies protection of that which has been acquired supported by an organization for emergency relief in the face of any contingency. True food security is not just a state of capacity for production or economy where-with-all to purchase. It is, in essence, a psychological state of confidence in which the very possibility of deprivation has been removed. Such a state is difficult to conceive in the world today, but that does not mean it is unachievable.

Food shortage on an abundant planet is a matter of distribution issues of a food system run by special interests, speculations, and lack of consideration for the overall human security. The competitive food security model leads to wasteful over-production, widely fluctuating and unremunerative prices, sustainable subsidies and ecological practices. It needs to be replaced by a cooperative food security system at the local, national and international level striking a balance between market forces and global guarantees. Achieving the SDGs will require actions on the agriculture and food security fronts, and such actions should be at local, national, regional and global level through a well monitored and coordinated approach. We need to strike a balance between market forces and global guarantees. 

The creation of an international organization for food security to stabilize supply and prices can provide all players with access to the essential information required to make intelligent decisions regarding what and how much food to produce to meet projected demand nationally and globally. It can substantially reduce the risks of agriculture as a business, thereby encouraging banks and insurance companies to extend the credit and insurance coverage needed to protect producers, while ensuring stable supplies and prices for consumers.

The establishment of an International Food Corporation would reduce price fluctuations and ensure food security through effective marketing and distribution systems. Even if the largest food exporting countries shun participation, an alliance of other countries could still establish the model as a group insurance program against local and regional crop failures due to erratic weather and a shared buffer stock as a strategic food reserve system.

The world community possesses the technological, financial, organizational and human capabilities required to eradicate world hunger and assure a modicum of real food security to its entire population within a decade. It is not a matter of charity or aid. As in the case of universal education, it is a question of ensuring to all citizens the essential requirements for self-reliance and self-development.

It requires a shift in emphasis from managing food to developing human beings.

Issues under Examination

This heading examines catalytic strategies to effectively address the global food security

  1. Food security as a fundamental human right
  2. Sources of food insecurity and their remedy
  3. Integrated strategies linking food security and employment security
  4. Global strategies to ensure availability of food at affordable prices

3. Mobilizing Civil Society

A new form of multilateralism or plurilateralism is needed that effectively engages a substantially larger number and wider range of stakeholders. The last three decades have brought about radical changes in the institutions of global society actively engaged at the global level which possess the knowledge and capacities essential for addressing global issues. Non-state actors are playing an increasingly important role in analyzing problems, shaping political discourse and influencing public opinion in global society. Subnational structures, megacities, national academies, networks of research institutions and universities, pressure groups, national and international civil society organizations and social movements are all stakeholders and players in global affairs.

International civil society institutions have multiplied exponentially and are now forging networks to multiply their reach and effective power. NGOs such as Fridays for the Future have generated greater awareness of the climate threat than recent pronouncements by IPCC. From an estimated 28,000 NGOs in the whole world at the beginning of the 21st century, today there are approximately about 10 million, representing a 350-fold multiplication in two decades. Today there are approximately 41,000 active international organizations from 300 countries and territories. This includes intergovernmental (IGOs) and international non-governmental organizations (INGOs), with about 1,200 new organizations being added each year. In addition, lower level government institutions are also forming networks that extend beyond national boundaries.

This wide and expanding range of stakeholder institutions possesses an enormous range of knowledge, organizational capabilities and technological resources. They too represent the aspirations and interests of “we the people”—in many cases more directly and effectively than the institutions of national government. But only a few of the very largest have an effective voice at the international level.

Multilateralism needs to be redefined to give voice to, engage and harness the capabilities of a much broader range of stakeholders. At a time when many nation-states are turning inward and re-forming into blocs, leadership in thought is needed to redefine the concept and practice of multilateralism to include all the legitimate stakeholders who represent the human community.

We should mobilize as much of our general population as we can to have a sense of empowerment, to have a sense of entitlement, to have a sense of belonging to a whole, of which they are a part and which gives them the inherent right.

– Vaira Vīķe-Freiberga, President of Latvia (1999-2007); Co-Chair, NGIC

3.1. Strengthening Civil Society & Youth Networks

The efforts of the NGO community to influence government policies are strongly supported by the public. The June 2020 GlobeScan survey found that 70-94 percent of those polled in 27 countries strongly or somewhat support NGO lobbying on issues ranging from education and social services to corporate behavior, boycotts and public protests.

The 10 million strong NGO community is largely fragmented into tiny units and networks organized by location, type and special interest. Combined they represent an enormous untapped organizational resource for spanning the distance between local communities and global governance. Six NGOs launched ICBL, the international coalition that banned land mines. Fridays for the Future is an international movement of students striking for action on climate change. Some are organized globally into loose federations like Mayors for Peace which has nearly 8000 member cities in 163 countries. Parliamentarians for Nuclear Non-Proliferation and Disarmament (PNND) is a global network of over 700 parliamentarians from more than 75 countries.

Global Environmental Youth Corp

Berggruen Institute, USA, has proposed establishment of a youth corp which generates jobs for unemployed youth on cost-effective projects to restore and develop the natural capital.

The activities of the corp could include preserving natural assets; public education on environmental hazards, human rights and legal enforcement; product bans on environmentally damaging products; petitions against major emitters; and campaigning for political action at the community level. Funding the corp could be linked to the financial strategies being developed under Pillar 4 below.

Providing a Job for Humanity

Direct democracy worked in the tiny city states of ancient Greece but as large nation states evolved indirect mechanisms were introduced to represent the views of citizens in government.

Large constituencies, long distances, the intermediacy of political parties, special interests and political careerism result in a vast gap between public opinion and government action at the national level. At the global level, citizens have no voice at all except through the agency of their national governments and civil society organizations. Can humanity acquire a direct voice in the age of instant global communications?

Mostly working by themselves or in collaboration with other specialized agencies, they all share a common commitment to public action on behalf of humanity as a whole, yet lack appropriate organizational structures to act in unison.  Strengthening global civil society networks represents a huge potential for bridging the gap between “we the people” and the multilateral system. Global networks already exist. Facebook already has 2.7 billion active users per month, making it not only the largest social network but arguably the largest interconnected group of individuals on the planet. But social networks of individuals lack the unifying organizational structures for collective action. Youth are a better candidate for that. Millennials belong to the networked next generation which grew up with unprecedented opportunities for interconnectedness spanning people, events and cultural perspectives around the world. Building networks of older generation organizations is hampered by the establishment of well-defined identities, traditional ways of independent functioning and even competition among themselves.

Formal and informal youth groups such as Fridays for the Future and Protect our Planet, a WAAS partner, have already demonstrated a much greater facility and inclination to merge into larger social movements, such as Occupy Wall Street and Black Lives Matter.

Millennials also represent the most environmentally conscious, concerned and committed community on earth—quite understandably since they are the generation which has incurred the greatest impact of climate change and other forms of environmental deterioration.

Issues under Examination

This heading engages representatives from international civil society organizations, social media, AI and telecom, UN agencies and prominent NGO leaders to examine ways to magnify the voice of civil society in global affairs.

  1. Strengthening specialized global NGO networks
  2. Linking together special interest networks to forge a unifying network
  3. Uniting individual youth groups into global specialized and general networks representing the aspirations, interests and concerns of the next generation.
  4. Mobilizing the combined resources of global civil society to create a direct voice for humanity through global platforms for polling and referendums directly involving the world citizenry.

3.2. Energizing Local Communities

Subnational structures empowered by digital technology and capable of responding at faster speeds than states have already started to enter into their own trade agreements. Megacities and provinces are now playing a critical role in planning and organizing the response to the pandemic. This recent trend is in accord with history. The most creative moments in the growth of civilization were not those dominated by massive empires. The growth of civilization has thrived on the freedom of small, innovative social units, such as the tiny kingdoms of ancient India, the city-states of ancient Greece and renaissance Italy. Silicon Valley, Route 128, Bangalore, New York, London, Singapore and Shanghai are their modern counterparts. An alliance of tiny island states played an active and very effective role in the climate treaty adopted in Paris.

In times of political polarization and paralysis at the national level, state and local communities provide enormous untapped opportunities for effective action. Cities and regions are small and near enough for local communities for citizens to have a direct input and powerful impact on public policies. California’s policy commitment to energy efficiency and renewable energy has generated ten times more jobs in solar than in natural gas electricity generation. Immediately after the US announced withdrawal from the Paris Accord, more than half of the states joined the US Climate Alliance affirming their commitment to the goals of the Paris Agreement. More than 100 cities, nearly 1000 businesses and a few hundred colleges and universities representing 120 million Americans made similar commitments.11 More than 7000 cities in 112 countries have joined the Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate and Energy commitment to publicly measure and report their carbon emissions using a standard measurement system.12

Issues under Examination

This heading engages urban political, social and civil society leaders to examine catalytic strategies to broaden the active participation and contribution of civil society and subnational agencies in the multilateral system.

  1. Effective strategies and models for national and international collaboration between sub-national groups related to SDG implementation
  2. Mobilizing the combined resources of global civil society to foster active citizen participation
  3. Creating a common global platform for people around the world to directly project their views and priorities regarding national and global issues without the intermediation of partisan, nation-centric political institutions
  4. Fostering subnational global networks on key issues on the UN agenda
  5. Enhancing the public impact of existing UN initiatives in collaboration with parliaments, cities, business, academia, NGOs, educational institutions and other civil society organizations

3.3. Restoring Trust in the Media

Global News Ranking System

Universities are ranked by experts on their quality of education, corporations on their quality of management, why not news services on the objectivity and reliability of their news content? Wikipedia achieves reliability ratings comparable to academic encyclopedias through an open source system. Can a non-partisan, independent agency play a similar role for news services?

The term “Fourth Estate” refers to the power of the press and news media for framing and influencing public opinion on governance issues of critical importance. The loss of faith and confidence in the credibility and impartiality of global news media severely impairs the functioning of democratic societies, undermining social cohesion, aggravating polarization and foster social unrest. At the same time it is a powerful means for strengthening the hold of autocratic regimes and entrenched interests.

The dissemination of fake news through social media and the take-over of the media by partisan political and business organizations pose severe challenges to the institutions of global governance, democracy and evidence-based science. A recent survey of 27 major nations shows that four out of five Internet users worry about what is real and fake on the Internet (79%), with nearly half (45%) strongly identifying with this concern.13 In spite of rising public concern, most opinion polls show that citizens oppose direct government regulation of the Internet, suggesting that an acceptable solution will have to be directed by independent non-partisan parties.

Issues under Examination

This heading engages leading journalists, social media experts, political leaders and social activists to examine potential strategies and models for establishment of independent, non-partisan international rating agency as a means to measure commitment to objectivity and as a guide to the general public.

  1. Criteria for non-partisan objectivity for assessing the journalistic policies and standards of global news media
  2. Possible models for regulating the reliability of news content
  3. Standards and procedures for ensuring independence and credibility of the system

3.4. Harnessing the Transformative Power of the Arts & Culture

Ideas can enlighten the mind with new direction, but the arts and humanities can both capture and enrapture the imagination and stir the heart with symbolic representations far more powerful, uplifting and motivating. The visual and performing arts can be potent and creative catalysts for generating awareness and aspirations, releasing social energies for action, and achieving beneficial transformative change. Art can break down intellectual, national, ethnic, linguistic, religious and ideological barriers that cannot be achieved by other means, as WHO and the UN use the visual arts as an effective medium for communicating public interest health messages regarding COVID-19 even to the illiterate.

Art Impact for Health

WHO utilizes art and culture as powerful medium to communicate and inspire Health for All as an innovative strategy to promote patient wellbeing and the humanization of healthcare in a hospital environment.

The program empowers children and adults to advance their own physical and psychological health by self-expression and social relations through painting, poetry, sculpture, music and video. It demonstrates the impact of integrated person-centered care practices and promotes transdisciplinary, intergenerational working groups through international, national and community networks.

Issues under Examination

This heading engages visual and performing artists, media and UN communication specialists, corporate marketing experts, catalytic strategies and political campaigners to examine the potential for multiplying the impact of art as an effective form of leadership to address global challenges, enhance support for the multilateral system, and strengthen global solidarity.

  1. Common characteristics of successful instances in which the arts have served as an effective medium for generating public awareness and stirring public opinion to address global challenges
  2. High potential applications of the arts to enhance awareness and commitment to implementation of the SDGs
  3. Educating, motivating and incentivizing artists and writers on how to direct their creative abilities toward promoting the global common good

Live Aid

The worldwide Live Aid concerts demonstrate the deeply transformative impact of arts to enable socio-cultural shifts. Launched in 1985 as a music-based global charity event to raise funds for famine relief in Ethiopia, the 16-hour long concert gathered the most renowned artists in music and was broadcast globally by satellite. It drew an audience of 1.9 billion across 150 nations, mobilized donations of $127 million and surplus grain to end the immediate hunger crisis in Africa.

3.5. Academies, Research Institutes and University Networks


The 140 national and international academy members of the Inter Academy Partnership (IAP) harness the expertise of the leading scientists to inform public and policy-makers about scientific, evidence-based solutions to global problems. IAP’s inter-regional project Climate Change and Health focuses on climate change adaptation and mitigation strategies that bring implementation at global, regional and national levels.

Effective leadership must be based on knowledge and knowledge generation needs effective structures, management and communication. Global surveys confirm that medical (81%) and scientific institutions (73%) are the most trusted of all leading institutions. Academies are leaders in thought, collective wisdom and social power.

Academia represents an important agency for non-political cultural diplomacy at the regional and global level. Exchange of researchers, faculty and students supports the global exchange of knowledge, spread of technologies, appreciation for cultural diversity and sense of global citizenship.

National academies can multiply their effectiveness and social impact by transcending national boundaries in collaborative efforts to address regional advice for decision makers concerning global challenges.

Building global collaborative networks of academies, universities and research institutions working together to address global challenges can multiply their available resources and impact. Science-based decision making is crucial to increase the effectiveness of public policies designed to reduce inequalities and impact poverty by mobilizing their member academies to interact with governments and society, and with the wider scientific community.

Issues under Examination

This heading seeks to identify ways to expand, replicate and integrate networks of this type into a tightly coordinated global system. It examines opportunities to expand the scope and increase the effectiveness of scientific networks in collaborative efforts to address global and regional challenges.

  1. Identification and replication of the most successful inter-academic networking models for international scientific collaboration on the SDGs and other regional and global challenges
  2. Shift from competitive to collaborative funding strategies for inter-academy, inter-university and inter-research institutional projects in order to expand the range of expertise, maximize efficiency and impact.
  3. Enhance effectiveness of communication and out-reach strategies for widest international dissemination, application and impact of evidence-based research findings.

3.6. Transformative Leadership – Stakeholder Participation

Pathways to the Future

WAAS and Club of Rome are examining and elucidating the essential elements of that process and the catalytic role of leadership in accelerating social transformation. Plans are under development to conduct a large number of dialogs and processes in a global, inter- generational and inter-cultural platform for deeper learning on the concrete pathways to human wellbeing within a healthy biosphere. The platform is expected to grow exponentially and reach 10,000 communities around the world in 2 to 3 years.

Change takes place only when the society itself becomes conscious of the need for change, awakens to the possibility, aspires to realize it, unleashes its energies and channels them into new forms of activity and new or altered forms of organization to spur social transformation.

Leadership plays an important role in that process and utilizes many different instruments for that purpose. The inspired or visionary individual leader is one form of leadership, quite prevalent in the past, but there are many others which are assuming increasing importance in the modern world. Leadership can be generated by ideas, values, goals, organizations, strategies, books, measures, and in countless other ways.14

In order to be effective, GL-21 must base its recommendations and proposals on a more comprehensive and inclusive theory of social change that recognizes the role of all these factors in the process of change and leadership.

Issues under Examination

This heading examines the process of social evolution to identify catalytic strategies which can be applied to address the major issues under consideration by GL-21.

  1. Strategies to promote social awareness and release social energies for change
  2. The role of inspiring values and goals such as the SDGs as catalyst for change
  3. The role of organization in channeling social energies
  4. Leadership as a catalyst for all stages of the social process

4. Innovative Strategies for Financing the SDGs

Status of Business & Finance

The number of multinational corporations has multiplied—from 7000 in 1970 to 82,000 in 2008 with 230,000 foreign affiliates by
15 The revenues of the 20 largest MNCs today equal or exceed those of 75% of nation-states and have assumed an increasingly important role in the global social systems. The largest MNCs today exceed in size the wealth and influence of many nation-states and have assumed the role of global social systems. Global financial assets have multiplied from $10 trillion in 1980 to about $350 trillion today.

Business and finance have been principal drivers of globalization over the past two centuries and continue to play a very prominent role in shaping social evolution. They have linked and integrated national economies and financial systems into a unified system with the potential for producing, distributing and financing the material needs of all humanity. They have transformed the world economy by financing trade, enterprise and global supply chains.

The world’s leading financial institutions have become linked as elements of an increasingly integrated global financial system. Global Business has fashioned the Internet as the world’s first truly global social institution linking billions of people together while national governments were preoccupied by domestic concerns and multilateral institutions faced declining support from their members.

Evolution of the Global Economy

Several factors are dramatically altering the role of finance and money in the world today. The increased sophistication of finance has given rise to finance for finance’s sake alongside more traditional finance for enterprises, projects and consumers. Money increasingly makes money by exploiting inefficiencies in the financial system, and can create a "casino effect' where transactions are a gamble rather than an investment.

The vast majority of today’s financial instruments, financial institutions and financial markets have been purposed for the industrial era to maximise direct wealth creation, rather than the achievement of more universal and long-term goals. Solving global issues therefore will require innovation applied to the financial system itself.

Big Finance is about to face its own revolution, for which it is not well-prepared. The internet is democratizing finance by making it digital, global, disintermediated and distributed, transforming it into something radically different.

Finance will need to address three broad categories of emerging challenges and opportunities:

  • Global problems resulting from negative externalities, e.g. climate change, resource shortages and mass migration.
  • Narrowing the gap between rich and poor, primarily by reducing poverty without diminishing the rich, inclusion not exclusion.
  • Financing future scientific and technological breakthroughs that form the basis of a new civilization.

This enormous multiplication and concentration of wealth has magnified the role of money as a medium for the exercise of social power in all fields and sectors of global society, resulting in an increasing concentration of political and social power with inordinate influence on politics, law and government, social stability, and international affairs.

The financial power of business and finance is essential for the maintenance and development of the multilateral system and for implementation of the SDGs. And recent developments have enormously multiplied that power. The current financial system is the product of the victory of globalization, free trade and democracy over socialist and communist alternatives. However, in an age of populism, both the far right and the far left have been able to argue successfully with their electorate, or within autocracies, that the system does not meet the needs of the world today. Rather than focusing on how to generate greater wealth and to distribute it better, the system of wealth generation itself is being challenged.

While the financial community has not articulated a vision of its own transformation, there are many initiatives underway within the community and as part of the UN’s programs to conceive the changes that are required.

In order to meet the historic challenge of transitioning beyond a carbon-based industrial civilization, the transformation of finance is needed to mobilize its capabilities for innovation and multiplying the capital available for sustainable investments. In a near and urgent time horizon, funding is required for major initiatives to address the SDGs and critical challenges such as climate change, structural poverty in developed and developing countries, and the current COVID-19 pandemic.

Responses to the pandemic during 2020 have demonstrated that there is a huge amount of capital available to address priority issues which can be mobilized on short notice. The total global government stimulus in response to the pandemic has already crossed US$15 trillion (including US$7 trillion in quasi-fiscal loan and credit guarantees). The continued failure to galvanize
funding—public and private—to address the world’s major challenges can further fuel tendencies toward populism, isolationism and transactionalism. It threatens to undermine multilateralism, resulting in additional pressure on the budgets of UN agencies.

The current UN annual budget of $5.5 billion is equivalent to only one day’s global military spending and the budget for all UN agencies combined is less than 10 days, yet the organization is under constant pressure due to the reluctance of member nations, most especially its largest donor the USA, to invest in this vital multilateral system. To put the challenge into perspective, the global financial requirements to achieve the SDGs are estimated to range between USD 4 and 8 trillion or more annually over the next decade, depending on what expenditures are included. Funding of this magnitude can only be obtained from a combination of public and private financing sources. Thus, finance lies at the heart of the operation of the multilateral system and financial innovation will play a critical role in determining its future.

The world economy represents a paradox of scarcity and abundance—a global economy with the capacity to produce enough to meet the needs of all human beings and a widening gap between those who struggle for their existence living side by side with a small minority who possess an inordinate portion of the world’s wealth. The current industrial era finance model is a root cause of the problems we face today. It needs to adapt to a digital, globalised, democratized world where other forms of social power—communication, human rights, education, health care, etc.—are being far more widely distributed. Policies based on neoliberal economic theory have managed to create an enormous wealth for a relatively small minority combined with rising levels of inequality, economic insecurity, environmental degradation, risks and uncertainty regarding the future. The real challenge now is to evolve a model that is inclusive of all humanity and sustainable.

Sixty percent of the world’s financial assets are held and managed by large financial institutions and banks all over the world, having originated mostly in households. These institutions will adapt or become increasingly disintermediated or displaced by newcomers, as we are seeing in every other industry. Finance needs mobility, flexibility, coordination to be relevant in a world where change is the constant and equilibrium cannot be expected, but it also needs to be fine-tuned and integrated with the real economy and evolving social needs.

The ‘democratisation of finance’ is the future and digitisation and cybertechnology is an enabler of the widespread decentralisation of finance and the empowerment of individual level financial systems. Increased awareness, consciousness and self-empowerment of people regarding their condition and human rights are drivers of change. Households own the vast majority of wealth and as consumers will increasingly make choices at the point of purchase to consume from businesses that fit their views and values, driving industry to respond in ways that affect their products and activities. This in turn will drive value and investors will follow.16

‘Big finance’, whether state driven or private sector, acts as a utility for the mass market (credit and deposits) and as an agent for other market participants, and will need to change dramatically if it is to exhibit a clear, socially-relevant and sustainable mission. The financial system needs a major shift towards sustainability-based capitalism which delivers both financial returns and social impact in a far more equitable and balanced way, the result of which is increasingly being judged by an impatient world population through social media. The evolution of financial systems will inevitably be aligned with the systemic political, social and economic evolutions and revolutions underway. The question for incumbent institutions is how fast they can change to champion and lead that change so that they are not victims of it.

This report addresses the issues of Pillar 4: Innovative Strategies for Financing the SDGs under the following five headings.

4.1. Special Purpose SDG Investing and Inclusion

Financial inclusion is an enabler of other Sustainable Development Goals. It features as a target in eight of the seventeen goals, and in particular is critical to enabling eradicating poverty (SDG 1), ending hunger (SDG 2), achieving food security and promoting sustainable agriculture, profiting health and well-being (SDG 3), achieving gender equality and economic empowerment of women (SDG 5), promoting economic growth and jobs (SDG 8), supporting industry, innovation, and infrastructure (SDG 9), reducing inequality (SDG 10) and strengthening the means of implementation (SDG 17).

It is time to introduce SDG 18 for sustainable finance to finance the SDGs and drive change in finance and financial systems to pave the way for financing major issues in the future.

– Ketan Patel, Founder & Chief Executive Officer, Greater Pacific Capital

Development finance is an essential ingredient in financing initiatives that build new markets, which can then attract private sector players as they mature. Sovereign, pension and development funds have an important role providing financing through crises to protect stakeholders, and their perpetual capital affords them the ability to take the long-term views required to price market externalities.

Issues under Examination

This heading engages financial and economic experts to address the potential for special purpose instruments to initially focus on SDG 5 and 10 and examine the tools that allow that to be expanded to broader financial inclusion.

  1. Focus on women and their role in the financial system in developing countries to promote inclusion.
  2. Literacy as a tool for the poor to participate in the financial system.
  3. Special Purpose SDG Private Bonds specifically targeting funding of the SDGs.

4.2. Next Generation Conscious Capital and Impact Investing

Changing public perceptions and the transition to the next generation of younger wealthy investors are having a profound impact on the future of business and financial markets. Impact investing has come of age. Climate Action 100+, an initiative supported by 518 institutional investor organizations across the globe representing financial assets of $47 trillion, recently wrote to 161 fossil fuel, mining, transport and other big-emitting companies demanding that they set thirty climate measures and targets on which future investment decisions will be based.17 Similar pronouncements by some of the largest institutional investors in the world show that profitability is no longer regarded the sole or sufficient criteria for investment decisions. Similarly, ESG indices reflecting corporate compliance with the ecological, social and governmental concerns for sustainability and fairness are gaining recognition among investors.

Much of today’s wealth in the world is tied to a relatively small number of families. A large number of these families— especially the ‘NextGens’—are prepared to use their financial resources as a force for good in the world at large while still meeting their overall financial returns objectives.

Issues under Examination

This heading engages the next generation of wealth to examine strategies to determine how their wealth can be both for profit and purpose, encompassing ESG and related impact investment criteria.

  1. The role of wealth to finance projects and initiatives and how the criteria could be changed to create a profitable impact.
  2. The data and information platforms required to supply a pipeline of major issues that meet the requirements and their amalgamation or creation.
  3. The formation of group financing initiatives that allow scale of capital deployment to major worthy initiatives.
  4. Beginning with a focus in Europe the initiative will be expanded to other parts of the world.

4.3. Innovative Strategies for Mass Participation of the Poor

More than 880 million people around the world live in urban slums, lacking access to adequate water and sanitation or adequate housing. By 2025, it is estimated that 1.6 billion people, c.20% of the world’s 7.6 billion population, will still lack access to secure and affordable housing.

In Africa, nearly half the population lives in substandard living conditions and in India and China nearly a quarter of the population lives in such conditions or in slums. Approximately 330 million households in the world suffer from a lack of secure, adequate and affordable housing and that is expected to grow to 440 million households by 2025.

Finance has a critical role to play in creating a pipeline of families that migrate from these poor conditions to the mainstream housing market by overcoming the many challenges of credit assessment, security over assets, deposits and the size of dwellings.

Issues under Examination

This heading engages financiers on creating the funding pipeline for the people to create inclusion for mass poor populations.

  1. The initial focus is on scaling further an International Micro Housing Finance Inclusion Initiative based on a highly successful program in India that funds low cost housing for first-time home owners.
  2. The transfer of lessons and expansion of that program with like-minded institutions to become an international program.
  3. The development of broader and more sophisticated fit-for-purpose financial instruments.

4.4. Funding SDGs with Digital Currency

Digital currencies from multiple actors have primarily been utilized until now as an instrument for speculation, tax evasion and illegal activities, but it has the potential to play a highly positive role in global social development. The introduction of a parallel electronic currency specifically designed to finance global commons and human-centered economy can create the necessary resources to achieve the UN SDGs and address the asymmetric shocks of COVID-19, while stabilizing the existing monetary system.

Leading central banks around the world are already actively studying the potential application of this approach to directly inject purchasing power without dependence on the banking system to finance the huge multi-trillion-dollar annual investment requirements for achieving the Sustainable Development Goals, with special emphasis on investments in human resources and environmental protection.

Central Bank Direct Digital Currencies (CBDCs) have the capacity to directly target critical investment needs, instead of resorting to traditional quantitative easing which channels funds to existing institutions and is largely diverted from its social purpose to financial markets. A full report is under preparation by a WAAS expert group.

Issues under Examination

This heading examines the feasibility, potential benefits and risks of generating central bank digital currencies for financing the SDGs while supporting rapid recovery from the economic downturn resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic.

  1. Feasibility of creating a parallel digital currency system administered by central banks for financing economic recovery and implementation of the SDGs
  2. Impact on government budgets, the existing financial system, inflation and economic recovery
  3. Steps required for implementation
  4. Next Generation Impact Investing

4.5. System Change Investing

Focusing on root causes and system change is essential for achieving the SDGs. System Change Investing (SCI) is a total systems approach focusing on changing the underlying systems and addressing the root causes which encourage harmful corporate behaviour.

SCI is powerful and relatively easy to implement, and provides a practical and profitable way to engage the corporate and financial sectors in system change. It is based on the same model as Socially Responsible and ESG investment strategies, but goes further to address root causes. Its ease of implementation is because it involves indirect instead of direct system change, and it is based on widely adopted practices. SCI strongly incentivizes companies and investors to do so. It also builds on existing corporate and financial practices. The method has strong potential to increase investment returns.

Impact investing based on ESG only addresses 20% of the problem. It fails to address the root causes generated by the wider economic and political system.  SCI is the next level of ESG. 

Issues under Examination

This heading engages financial experts and investment groups to examine catalytic strategies to promote SCI as the next step in impact investing for maximum social impact.

  1. Rationale for System Change Investing and comparison with ESG
  2. Strategies for implementation of SCI
  3. Potential impact on changing economic, social, environmental and political behavior

5. Transforming Global Education

Education is the most effective instrument so far created by humanity for conscious social transformation. It is the means by which we come to understand the limitations and flaws in our earlier mode of thinking and acting, the problems overlooked and missed opportunities, the lessons offered by past successes and failures. It is the means by which we pass on to future generations humanity’s cumulative knowledge and experience of the past so that they avoid our mistakes and advance more quickly and surely than we have up to now.

The speed and complexity of global social evolution have generated unprecedented levels of uncertainty and insecurity regarding the future of humanity. They compel us to adapt far more quickly than in the past to the challenges resulting from globalization, technological advances both for war and for peace, and environmental degradation on earth and in the atmosphere. The quality of our decisions, policies and actions depends on the quality of our understanding about the factors and forces driving global social evolution. We simply do not have time to waste by repetition of past errors or slow trial and error learning processes. If education has been a principal driver of global progress over the past two centuries, it has now become a critical requirement to cope with mounting challenges of unprecedented speed, magnitude and complexity.18

The current global educational system is not fit for purpose. Even at its best, it reinforces adherence to outmoded ideas, theories, policies and practices through outdated ineffective forms of pedagogy and unaffordable, inaccessible and inefficient delivery systems.

In spite of enormous investments over the past half century, the global system is grossly inadequate to meet the aspirations of hundreds of millions of youth and the rapidly changing needs of global economy and society. At its worst, it becomes a major obstacle to human adaptation.

The 19th century mass production education in specialized siloed disciplines by rote memorization, mindless repetition, and unthinking adherence to dogma is perpetuated by an institutional mentality that is too firmly oriented to preserving past knowledge than to focusing on the future knowledge youth will require to respond to the challenges of the 21st century. Conservatism becomes destructive when it fails to heed the need for change.

Transforming global education is an urgent necessity and an enormous challenge beyond the scope of GL-21. But this project can identify catalytic strategies that can make an impact which is illustrative of the scope for far more profound changes which are both possible and essential.

This report addresses the issues of Pillar 5: Transforming Global Education under the following four headings.

5.1. Global Leadership Education

We cannot change the global system overnight but we can rapidly and dramatically improve the education of both existing and future world leaders in national governments and multilateral organizations, in politics, diplomacy, business, academia and civil society by imparting to them a knowledge of the complex factors propelling social evolution and the process by which it can be consciously shaped and directed to address challenges and tap opportunities.

The prevailing silo-based division of scientific disciplines and academic courses generates a piecemeal, fragmented view of the world we live in similar to the reflection cast by a broken mirror. There is urgent need to assemble the fragmented perspectives into a comprehensive, integrated perspective of the process of global social evolution and the process and strategies which can be harnessed to consciously lead and more effectively direct its course. WAAS has constituted an international working group in collaboration with UNITAR and other partner organizations to develop transdisciplinary educational courses designed to better equip leaders, diplomats, public administrators and policy-makers to understand and respond appropriately to the rapidly unfolding challenges of our time.

Issues under Examination

The purpose of this heading is to identify the essential content of GL-21 courses to be developed based on the research, conference proceedings and recommendations in the final report to UNOG. It will engage an international working group in collaboration with UNITAR and other partner organizations to develop transdisciplinary educational courses to explore ways to better equip leaders, diplomats, public administrators and policy-makers to understand and respond appropriately to the rapidly unfolding challenges of our time.

  1. A critique of the reasons for the failure of contemporary social sciences to provide leaders and policymakers with the knowledge required to foresee, prevent and effectively address the complex challenges confronting humanity in the 21st century
  2. Fundamental changes in perspective needed to overcome the limitations of prevailing approaches to the world
  3. Characteristics of leadership courses better equipped to meet social needs
  4. Exploration of rapid delivery systems for an integrated approach to leadership education

5.2. Global Learning Delivery Systems

In 2013 Unesco projected the need for opening hundreds of universities a year over the next 15 years to meet the growing demand for higher education. In response, the UNOG-WAAS conference on New Paradigm in June 2013 called for design and development of new models for education delivery able to address the urgent need to provide world-class, accessible and affordable higher education for students everywhere in the world. Recent projections are that tertiary enrollment will more than double by 2040. If it is to be met through the present model delivery system, it would require opening two new universities a day the size of Harvard every day for the next 20 years.19 Given the enormous cost involved and the already severe shortage of trained teachers, this is unrealistic. Rapid expansion of the educational system is feasible, affordable and absolutely essential to prepare youth for successful adulthood in the rapidly changing economic environment, but it requires a major change in content, pedagogy and delivery system.

The scarcity of new jobs in formal employment necessitates a reorientation of education to prepare youth for entrepreneurship and self-employment. The drastic decline in job security means that youth today must be equipped with the capacity for life-long learning to work in a widening range of different occupations throughout their careers. The rigid disciplinary siloes prevalent in higher education are no longer feasible.

The knowledge required for work has become increasingly multidisciplinary and transdisciplinary. The proliferation of disciplines and subdisciplines has broadened the range of options and opportunities to combine and mix subjects, develop unique personal capacities and to meet specific work applications.

With this objective, WAAS and nine partner institutions established the World University Consortium and conducted five international conferences examining alternative delivery systems and pedagogical models better suited to utilize the immense potential of online learning technologies. It was anticipated at the time that the rapid development of online learning systems could meet a significant portion of the need for expanding the global higher education system. But in spite of major advances in online education, the conservative nature of the existing system combined with resistance from faculty and administrators and technological limitations slowed adaptation.

COVID-19 combined with rapid advances in telecommunications, computers and AI has changed everything. It has compelled institutions of higher education to very quickly make up for a decade of slow adoption and for instructors to quickly learn to adapt to the new delivery system. The sudden onset of COVID-19 has resulted in the suspension of physical classroom education at all levels around the world, generating an urgent need for a rapid transition to online learning, for which the conventional classroom pedagogy is very poorly suited. Few teachers are equipped to make the transition without extensive training in new pedagogy. While much remains to be done, the momentum for rapid transformation now makes it possible to provide person-centered, interactive, peer-to-peer, transdisciplinary education adapted to the needs and technological capabilities of the information rich 21st century.

Issues under Examination

This heading engages an international working group of educators in collaboration with UNITAR and World University Consortium to examine the feasibility of rapid transition to more affordable, adaptable, innovative, equitable and effective delivery systems for higher education.

  1. Critique of the limitation of existing models of higher education
  2. Characteristics of a new paradigm delivery system
  3. The role of certification as a critical determinant
  4. Designs for alternative systems and learning networks

5.3. Multi-disciplinary and Transdisciplinary Initiatives

Most of the problems confronting global society today are reflections of the fragmentation of knowledge, theory, education, research, policy-making and implementation into disciplinary silos.

The division of knowledge into academic disciplines, university departments, discipline-specific research projects and funding categories poses serious obstacles to the development of theory, knowledge, policies and programs that accurately represent the complex sources of the problems and the multidimensional strategies needed to address them effectively.

Today most science and technical education is insulated or divorced from social impact.

For example, engineering education routinely omits the study of the impact of advances in technology on society and people. Medical education omits training in the psychological and social perceptions and consequences of illness and treatment. Science and technology administrators in all fields need to be equipped with an understanding of the social context and consequences of their work, the processes for policy and decision-making, methods for educating public opinion and building relationships with policymakers, stakeholders, and the general public.

A number of successful programs and models already exist, including the New Engineering Educational Transformation (NEET) initiated by MIT, the Singapore University of Technology and Design (SUTD), and the SHAPE-ID EU H2020 project to address the challenge of improving interdisciplinary cooperation between the Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences, Natural Sciences, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics, and other disciplines.

Issues under Examination

This heading engages a multidisciplinary team of experts from the natural, biological, engineering and social sciences, business and humanities to examine ways to enhance, extend and multiply successful strategies to overcome the disciplinary divides which impair effective research, policy-formation and implementation to address global challenges.

  1. The urgent need for multidisciplinary education, research and policy-making to prepare leaders, decision-makers and thinkers.
  2. Characteristics of successful interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary learning models and programs
  3. Catalytic strategies for rapid expansion and replication of successful models and learning networks globally

5.4. Integrated Thinking

Einstein’s observation that we cannot solve problems with the same mode of thinking that created them in the first place is frequently quoted but usually honored in the breach. For nearly two centuries Economics ignored the impact on the natural environment based on metrics which measure velocity of economic activity rather than human welfare and count the depletion of non-renewable natural capital as an income rather than a drain on natural wealth. Reductionist mechanistic thinking in Economics, Business and Ecology is an obvious example of a far more widespread phenomenon prevalent in the health, psychological and cognitive sciences and other fields. Changing the way people think can only be done by fundamental changes in educational pedagogy at all levels.

Issues under Examination

This heading examines strategies to alter course design to develop the capacity for independent thinking and understanding of the world system as an integrated whole rather than independent, unconnected fragments.

  1. Comparison of the integrated nature of social reality with the compartmentalization of academic knowledge and research, political and administrative decision-making, and the strategies and programs for implementation by UN agencies, national governments, business and civil society.
  2. Strategies to reorganize knowledge formulation, delivery and application to overcome the disciplinary divides at the root of global problems today.
  3. Implications for the leadership, staff, organization and activities of the UN system

6. Conclusions

The consensus is that the COVID-19 has awakened people everywhere to question the status quo, to aspire and demand change—in parliaments, universities, research institutions, corporations, and civil society organizations, in the streets of inner cities and among the children, in schools and households around the world. It is generating the awareness, aspiration, energy, organizational innovation and momentum for transformative social change.

Security is a perception that depends on trust, which in turn depends on quality of leadership and transparency of governance...True transformative leadership is all about “uncorking” the future, rather than trying to rekindle the past.

– Garry Jacobs, President & CEO, World Academy of Art & Science

The five interdependent thrust areas and the 24 catalytic strategies discussed in this report are indicative of the potential for effective leadership initiatives of many different types in a broad range of areas. Those that are already being implemented can be replicated and multiplied in number and magnified in impact. Others can be taken up immediately as initial pilot efforts. Still others are extremely promising but require further research. All of them are being examined, refined and developed further during Phase II of GL-21 for discussion at the Geneva conference and presentation in the final report on the project. They are intended to illustrate the untapped potential to break the present global leadership vacuum through innovative approaches in order to prepare the way for deeper and more far-reaching efforts to accelerate global social progress.


  1. “Secretary-General’s Introduction”, The United Nations
  2. Alexander Likhotal, “Global leadership in the 21st Century,” Cadmus Journal 4, no.2(2020): 134-140
  3. Garry Jacobs et al., "Catalytic Strategies for Socially Transformative Leadership: Leadership Principles, Strategies and Examples," Cadmus Journal 4, no.2 (2020): 6-45
  4. Diplo Foundation, "Multilateral diplomacy in times of COVID-19" YouTube April 7, 2020
  5. “Decolonization” The United Nations
  6. A. Likhotal,."Global leadership,"
  7. International Commission on Peace and Food, Uncommon opportunities : an agenda for peace and equitable development (London: Zed Books, 1995), 40-41
  8. Uncommon Opportunities, 86
  9. “COVID-19 will double number of people facing food crises unless swift action is taken,” World Food Programme 21 April 2020
  10. Peter S. Goodman, Abdi Latif Dahir and Karan Deep Singh, “The Other Way Covid Will Kill: Hunger” The New York Times 11 September 2020
  11. Lovins et al., A finer future.
  12. See
  13. “Fake Internet Content a High Concern, but Appetite for Regulation Weakens” GlobeScan September 2017
  14. Jacobs et al. "Catalytic Strategies,"
  15. “Multinational enterprises in the global economy: Heavily debated but hardly measured” OECD May 2018
  16. Ketan Patel and Christian Hansmeyer, 'The Role of Finance in Solving Global Issues and in the Transition to a New Civilisation," Cadmus Journal 4, no.2 (2020): 46-55
  17. Adam Morton, “Investors that manage US$47tn demand world’s biggest polluters back plan for net-zero emissions” The Guardian 14 September 2020
  18. Garry Jacobs, "Towards a New Paradigm in Education," Cadmus Journal 2, no. 2(2014): 116-125
  19. "Study projects dramatic growth for global higher education through 2040" ICEF Monitor 3 October 2018