The Global Leadership Challenge (GLC) aims to help emerging leaders to grow in the wisdom and character required for responsible leadership that makes a difference in the world — leadership that doesn’t simply seek to fulfil personal ambition but furthers societies’ sustainable development. GLC is a joint initiative of the University of Oxford (Social Sciences Division and the Oxford Character Project) and the St. Gallen Symposium, supported by our partners - the Lemann Foundation, the Templeton World Charity Foundation, HCLTech, EDGE Strategy and EWOR Education.
From 8 - 12 December, GLC 2022 focused on “A New Generational Contract” as its core theme. The idea of a generational contract captures the principle that different generations depend on each other to provide mutual support across different stages of their lives. It can be most simply described as “what generations owe each other” – in area such as education, environmental protection, and health – and reminds us we have a responsibility to be good descendants and ancestors, and to consider the impacts of our actions on all generations.
In light of environmental crises, rapid technological change and global demographic shifts, this generational contract and underlying ideas of intergenerational equity have been challenged. How can cross-generational dialogue and mentoring help us become more responsible leaders? And how can our actions enable greater intergenerational fairness and collaboration?
To tackle these questions, GLC 2022 will convened 100 promising young leaders and 20 Senior Advisors to address some of the most pressing challenges of our time by integrating responsible leadership and practical actions to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Using character education and design thinking, the five-day challenge equiped young leaders with the values and skills needed to build a sustainable future.
Evaluated by our Award Jury, the group with the most outstanding project idea will be able to attend the 51st St. Gallen Symposium as Leaders of Tomorrow. After GLC, participants can apply for further mentoring in two tracks: “entrepreneurship” (with EWOR Education) to learn skills and competencies towards building their own ventures, and grow as future leaders (with the Oxford Character Project at the University of Oxford) to reflect on their own purpose and grow as a future leader. All active participants will receive a Certificate of Achievement from the University of Oxford and the St. Gallen Symposium.
SDGs in Focus at GLC 2022
Throughout the five-day challenge, GLC participants engaged in cross-generational dialogues with senior leaders, learned from a diverse group of peers, and developed a wide range of action projects focused on concrete challenges, related to four Sustainable Development Goals in the context of this year’s GLC theme “A New Generational Contract”.
SDG 3: Good Health and Well-Being
SDG 3 seeks to ensure health and well-being for all, at every stage of life. However, COVID-19 has spread human suffering and upended the lives of billions of people in many ways, including a long-term toll on their mental health. In 2020, the global prevalence of anxiety and depression increased by an estimated 25 per cent, with young people and women most affected. At the same time, countries reported that services for mental, neurological and substance use conditions were the most disrupted among all essential health services, which widened gaps in mental health care.
This situation calls for global attention to expand access to mental health and psychosocial support. Protecting the most vulnerable populations, including young adults and senior citizens, should be a key concern of new mental health and wellbeing initiatives. How might we create timely interventions to deal with pandemic-induced psychological impacts and bring mental health support to the people who need them the most?
SDG 4: Quality Education
SDG 4 seeks to ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all. The coronavirus pandemic has accelerated a long-term structural trend in which emerging technologies such as AI become ever more integrated into our daily lives and shape how we work, get around and communicate with each other. It has also boosted the process of automation, replacing some routine jobs, while complementing and adding value to other types of more high-skilled work. This rapid technological change raises fundamental questions about the future role of humans in an increasingly technology-intensive economy and society.
Schools and higher education institutions hold the key to prepare the young generation for this future of work and society, while lifelong learning is key for all generations to reap the benefits of technological transformation. However, in order to play this role, where, how and what we teach and learn will need to change substantially. How might we design new educational models and offerings which will provide us with the skills and competencies needed for a technology-driven future of work?
SDG 5: Gender Equality
SDG 5 aims to achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls. Globally, at the rate of current progress, it will take another 132 years to close the gender gap, in terms of measures such as educational attainment, income and political voice. Today women represent only 26.2% in national parliaments, 36.3% in local governments and 28.3% in managerial positions. Unpaid domestic and care work, the gender pay gap, as well as violence against women are only some of the most pressing challenges to be addressed.
An important pathway through which transformative change may happen is to break the transmission of gender stereotypes from one generation to the next. The way children view gender stereotypes is heavily influenced by how they are raised in families and educational institutions, as gender biases are strongly formed at an early age and difficult to change thereafter. How might we influence negative stereotypes and gender biases within families and educational institutions in order to promote gender equality?
SDG 13: Climate Action
SDG 13 encourages everyone to take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts. In 2021, global greenhouse gas emissions rose to their highest level ever and, under current commitments, would rise by another 14 percent in the coming decade. Without immediate and deep emissions reductions across all sectors, limiting global warming to 1.5°C is beyond reach. The responsibility of those currently alive to leave young and future generations a healthy environment is an essential component of the generational contract.
In light of the existential risks posed by climate change, millions of people around the world feel climate anxiety and believe that their own actions will not make any difference in light of the immense scale of the crisis. Many others, however, are changing their career and life priorities in order to take concrete actions at local, regional, and global levels. How might we foster a sense of agency and self-efficacy among individuals and communities so that they step up now and take climate actions from where they are?
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A New Framework For
The most pressing challenges of our time require system-level analysis and action for impact. Building on research at the Universities of Oxford and St. Gallen, we have developed a new framework for responsible leadership combining three essential components of responsible leadership needed to address global challenges.