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Global Future Councils Explore Systems Leadership
(4 November 2019)


Systems leadership can change the world, speakers said at the fourth Annual Meeting of the Global Future Councils, which started today in Dubai, bringing together nearly 700 leading experts from around the world to generate ideas and answers for solving the most critical challenges facing humanity today.

The meeting is hosted by the Government of the United Arab Emirates in partnership with the World Economic Forum,WEF, which focuses on harnessing digital innovation and developed a national strategy for the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

Systems leadership is a set of skills and capacities that any individual or organisation can use to catalyze, enable and support the process of systems-level change. It combines collaborative leadership, coalition-building and systems insight to mobilise innovation and action across a large, decentralised network.The systems leadership approach is well-suited to complex challenges that require collective action, where no single entity is in control. However, the approach is challenging – involving high transaction costs, ambiguous outcomes and long timeframes. It is best applied to complex issues that cannot be solved through more direct means.

In an open-interactive session titled: ''Moving from Thought Leadership to Systems Leadership'', Anil Menon, Head of WEF's Centre for Global Industries, opened by encouraging true global cooperation to solve the global challenges we are facing, saying that "an arms-length approach is not going to do it." Businesses must have a positive impact on the communities they are part of.

Penny Abeywardena, Commissioner for International Affairs, Mayor's Office, City of New York, explained the difficulty in mobilising large groups of people around specific challenges – "We are, from a population perspective, as large as 141 countries, if not larger" – but cited the speed with which change can happen: within 24 hours of the Trump administration pulling out of the Paris Climate Agreement, an executive order was signed committing New York and 42 other cities to achieving the 1.5C degree temperature limitation set out in the Agreement.

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