Unique Gathering at United Nations Sets Lofty Ambitions – For the World and Itself
NEW YORK, May 2, 2019 — What happens when you fill a United Nations chamber full of rabbis and sheikhs, business tycoons and environmentalists, economists and women’s rights advocates?
Well, actionable solutions to the world’s problems, if the inaugural Responsible Leaders Summit meets its own lofty ambitions.
In a unique and timely conference at U.N. headquarters, a highly diverse cast of 150 pioneers gathered to tackle everything from economic inequality and sustainable development to gender parity and interfaith understanding.
Formatted mini-Davos style, with discussion among moderators and panelists, followed by broader participant interaction, the conversation include a range of novel ideas and plenty of personal experiences about how to improve society.
If the resulting agenda lacked a fully comprehensive form, the common idea of “responsible leadership” filled the gap as the unifying thread.
“These challenges may be different, but they are linked in that real solutions to each of them depend on responsible leadership," said Dr. Mohammad Abdulkarim Al-Issa, the Secretary General of the Mecca-based Muslim World League, who served as the unlikely chairman of the summit.
Al-Issa, who sought to demonstrate his leadership a day before by announcing he would join the American Jewish Committee on a 2020 trip to Auschwitz, said: “We need strategies conceived for the future and not only the present, forged out of conviction and not convenience, and designed to be constructive and not destructive.”
In Al-Issa’s statement, the kernel of the newly launched Centre for Responsible Leadership was explained. Founded by Bawa Jain, a long-time collaborator of the U.N. and various faith-based communities around the world, the organization seeks to fuse leadership concepts from politics, business and religion.
The ultimate objective is not to push any specific policy, but a shared methodology toward outcomes, wrapped around the concept of “responsible leadership.” This approach should be future-oriented, inclusive and sustainable, the argument holds.
That translated to former Senator Joe Lieberman arguing for a return to civil discourse in entertainment and politics; Nike Chief Sustainability Officer Noel Kinder speaking about uniting profit and purpose; former Hillary Clinton confidante Neera Tanden talking about elevating not only girls and women, but all people through gender inclusivity.
But can these ideas form an “actionable strategy for addressing challenges facing all of humanity,” as the Centre states as its objective?
Unclear, but the Centre for Responsible Leadership has taken its first step. It plans to bring global leaders together again next year at the United Nations, and will have even bigger responsibilities on its own shoulders.