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Editors’ Note: Part 2 of the Spring 2020 issue of Cadmus is a continuation of the Working Group Papers of the UNOG-WAAS Project on Global Leadership in the 21st Century. These papers are intended to provide the basis for the econference “Strategies for Transformative Global Leadership”, organized by WAAS and UNOG from June 15-19, 2020. Those interested in participating in the e-conference can register here. Part 1 of the conference paper series can be accessed here.

The challenges confronting humanity today are a compelling call for leadership to transform crises into opportunities. The COVID-19 pandemic calls for global solutions to address global problems, not partial, sectoral approaches based on outdated attitudes, concepts, institutions and policies. We need leadership with a transboundary vision: leadership that can sense the rising social energies and seize the occasion to convert these energies into effective transformative social power; leadership to forge alliances across borders, disciplines and other types of walls; leadership which can learn from the past and creatively apply its poignant lessons to unlock the future; leadership with the individuality and courage to spearhead a global social human-centered movement; leadership to seize this unique planetary moment to unleash the planetary momentum to create the future NOW.

There has been ample time, opportunity and effort to analyze our problems. The broad lines of the remedy are apparent to all those with open-mindedness and courage to see beyond the limitations of self-blinding orthodoxies, entrenched social powers and vested interests so heavily vested in the past that they cannot see it is already dead. Now is the time to pass from analyzing problems to formulating effective solutions and catalytic strategies to fill the vacuum, break the logjam and transform the long, slow meandering pace of subconscious social evolution into rapid, conscious social transformation. The formulation of the SDGs provides a clear consensus on the goals to be achieved. What is needed now is the leadership in thought that leads to effective action.

Social transformation is not a utopian dream but a fact that has been playing out before our very eyes with increasing rapidity and intensity in recent decades. It took several centuries to abolish slavery in the world and nearly as long to establish the idea of gender equality as a fundamental human right. But it took just two decades to virtually abolish colonial empires from the face of the earth after World War II. And barely a few years to tear down the boundaries built during the Cold War to liberate and weld humanity into a single global community. Since then the World Wide Web has connected and unified humanity to an extent unimaginable just three decades ago.

Social transformation is not a myth, but it is a challenge to overcome the inertia, resistance and barriers that retard the process. Throughout history we have witnessed potentialities transformed into actualities. But never before have we been presented with the means and confronted by the urgent necessity to consciously direct and accelerate that process in a race against the consequences of our own past attitudes and actions. We are compelled to step forward with the necessary leadership in values, thoughts, organizational initiatives, catalytic strategies and effective actions. Further reliance on fragmented thinking, piecemeal, compartmentalized, sectoral, unilateral policies and actions that have been the source of the present problems will only aggravate and accelerate the crises. We need holistic, global approaches that address root causes rather than superficial symptoms. Civil Society and youth groups have already become catalysts and instigators of transformational change.

This issue of Cadmus presents work in progress for a project of the United Nations Office in Geneva and the World Academy of Art & Science on Global Leadership in the 21st Century. The issues, questions, and ideas it presents will be discussed at a UNOG-WAAS e-conference on Catalytic Transformative Strategies on June 15-19, 2020. This event is preparatory to the main conference scheduled to take place at the UN in Geneva on October 27-28, 2020 and to a final report to the UN and educational outreach measures. This issue is a call and challenge to think freshly and an invitation to contribute.

Editors

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