Sustainable Leadership

Soaring oil prices, together with signs of the planet’s limits, such as climate disruption, biodiversity loss, and water scarcity, demonstrate the need for a new approach to development. Visionary leaders must direct the transformation from GDP-focused growth to sustainable, equitable economic progress.

CANBERRA – Last September, at the European Forum on New Ideas, former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev, former Polish President Lech Walesa, and former West German Foreign Minister Hans-Dietrich Genscher participated in a panel discussion (of which I was a part) on Europe’s response to climate change and global development prospects more broadly. By ending the Cold War, democratizing Poland, and reunifying Germany, respectively, these leaders have helped to improve the lives of people worldwide.

In rebuilding Europe physically, politically, and socially after World War II, they demonstrated the value of transformative political leadership. To overcome the challenges that they faced, they had to recognize the failings of the paradigms that guided their peers, and adopt updated models based on a new worldview.

In the next half-century, creating a sustainable and desirable future for Europe and the world will require equally significant transformations. But the challenges to be faced will be radically different in nature.

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