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“We are not doomed, unless we choose to be”—Speakers urge political courage to tackle pressing global issues

“Big, bold action” and greater inclusion are needed, as answers to global challenges are within reach. That was a core message participants heard as the hybrid Conference on Global Leadership for the 21st Century drew to a close on Tuesday.  

Several speakers urged leaders to show “political will” and “courage” to enact changes that can adequately address pressing issues such as the climate crisis and the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“The pandemic and the climate have to be addressed together and in a way that strengthens democracy. We have to mobilize and demand big, bold action from our leaders. We are not doomed, unless we choose to be,” Academy Award-winning actress and activist Jane Fonda said during the closing session of the Conference.  

Striking a similar note, Fabrizio Hochschild, Special Adviser to the Secretary-General on the Commemoration of the United Nations 75th Anniversary, stressed that “we know exactly what the solutions are for climate change; we’re just not pursuing them with vigour”.  

He added that “greater international solidarity” was among the top priorities of 1 million respondents who answered the UN’s global survey as the Organization marked its 75th anniversary

Calling for a multilateralism that “includes all of us,” Garry Jacobs, President and CEO of the World Academy of Art & Science, a co-organizer of the conference with the United Nations Office at Geneva, underlined that there was a need, a global appetite even, for profound change. “We have to make changes of great magnitudes in such a short time. People in all areas, of all ages, occupations tell us we need to change our multilateral system. We’re seeing a willingness to change that we have not seen in decades,” he said. 

Networked multilateralism

In such context, International Geneva will play a key role in fostering “inclusive and networked multilateralism,” according to Tatiana Valovaya, Director-General of UN Geneva. 

“International Geneva is well equipped to lead by example, and is already doing so. The answers to our global challenges really do lie within our grasp, and we need the mobilization of all actors to seize them,” she said in concluding remarks.  

The Conference on Global Leadership for the 21st Century, organized to develop strategies to address global leadership challenges, drew 800 participants online from around 100 countries over the past two days.