We’re at a unique point in history, having experienced 70 years of prosperity and peace. However, we now face challenges like climate change, technology disruption, and conflict. But there’s hope: human agency can change our course.
In this thought piece for New Thinking for a New World, Alan Stoga, Chairman of the Tällberg Foundation, shares how the foundation supports global leadership through two initiatives: the Tällberg-SNF-Eliasson Global Leadership Prize and the Tällberg Leaders Mentoring Leaders program. These initiatives aim to foster the kind of leadership needed to navigate these challenges.
I am Alan Stoga, Chairman of the Tallberg Foundation, and I am delighted to welcome you to this memorial of the Foundation’s celebration of global leadership held in late January at the University of Pavia in Italy.
We live at a unique moment in human history. We—and, by “we” I mean practically all of civilization—have experienced roughly 70 years of widely shared prosperity, human development and even peace. Almost everyone alive today is better off than almost everyone who was alive in 1950, at the end of what essentially had been one devastating war that had started after the turn of the century.
Now, however, our prospects are less Great Expectations than maybe Bleak House to steal from Dickens. Accelerating climate change, disruptive technology, increasing conflict and war, massive numbers of displaced people seeking safety and the breakup of the post-war global order threaten the great advances of the past decades.
That’s the bad news. The good news is that everything that I just described, except perhaps the physics driving climate change, can be changed by human agency.
We made it; we broke it; we can fix it.
That’s exactly why the Tällberg Foundation is laser-focused on leadership. Because all that carnage out there won’t fix itself. But great leaders can bend the arc of history.
What kind of leaders?
- Leaders who are innovative, courageous, dynamic, ethical and who understand global challenges require global solutions.
- Leaders who seize the moment instead of waiting for politicians to stop squabbling and act.
- Leaders who recognize that borders and barriers—whether physical or cognitive—are inimical to addressing, never mind overcoming, today’s challenges.
- Leaders who reject the lengthening list of “isms”—nationalism, exceptionalism, racism, wokeism, Putinism, the list goes on—that substitute for thought today.
So, the board of the Tällberg Foundation—with the fulsome support of the Stavros Niarchos Foundation (SNF)—decided our core purpose must be to identify, honor, nurture and network great global leaders. The kind of women and men who understand the challenges, who take the risks and who—above all—produce impact.
Over the past decade, we have awarded the Prize to twenty-seven leaders from around the world. In 2023 we added Meg Lowman and Andrew Bastawrous to that community of global leaders. Both exemplify the kind of leadership we—all of us—need to begin working our way out of the mess that we have made of our world.
- Dr. Margaret Lowman—American-based Founder of MISSION GREEN, global pioneer in forest canopy ecology, arbornaut, author, educator—for her tireless and innovative scientific and advocacy work to protect the planet’s forests.
- Dr. Andrew Bastawrous—British-based ophthalmologist and co-founder & CEO of Peek Vision and The Peek Vision Foundation—for bringing vision—and thereby better lives—to more than a million people, with millions more in prospect.
The second element of the Tällberg Foundation’s global leadership initiative is Tällberg Leaders Mentoring Leaders (TLML). The concept is simple: in our messy world, we need as many extraordinary leaders as possible. TLML matches emerging leaders from a wide range of countries and disciplines with equally diverse established leaders in a year-long work program that aims to accelerate their leadership journeys.
For 2024, the year-long program kicked off with a four-day workshop at the University of Pavia involving a dozen mentees and mentors, from 19 countries. Our hope is to leverage mentors’ experiences and learnings—successes as well as failures—so that emerging leaders can seize their leadership opportunities as fully and as soon as possible. You can meet these amazing leaders on our website: https://tallbergfoundation.org/tallberg-leaders-mentoring-leaders/
One last thought. The Tällberg Foundation is more platform than organization; we want to engage like-minded people who seek positive, global change.
What can you do?
- You can nominate a global leader when the online nominating process opens in on March 15. tallberg-snf-eliasson-prize.org/
- You can encourage a great emerging leader to apply for TLML when that process opens, also on March 15. tallbergfoundation.org/tallberg-leaders-mentoring-leaders/
- You can participate in our webinars, discussion groups and podcasts addressing a wide variety of issues with a special focus on democracy during this year of global elections.
- And, you can help us find new financial resources to keep the Tällberg Foundation vital and growing.
Years ago, Jan Eliasson, former UN Deputy Secretary General and longtime Tällberg supporter, said “We need to reduce the gap between the world as it is and the world as it should be.” That is as simple and elegant as a statement of purpose can be. Will you help us do that?
Please let me know what you think and what you will do.