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Emerging Leaders Views


What Will the Next Generation of Leadership Look Like?

By Kiron Neale

Current and future leaders face a range of pressing challenges: climate change, energy transitions, social equity and equality, and business entrepreneurship and innovation, to name a few. But these challenges are all opportunities as well — opportunities to cultivate the right leadership values for a changing world, innovate leadership styles that fit the future, and build the character of tomorrow’s leadership.

Despite the current generation having to wrestle with the legacy of yesterday’s leaders (itself a significant issue), as leadership transitions into the next generation the greatest opportunities may actually lie in developing solutions to address multiple problems simultaneously.

One example: designing innovative financing for minority groups to access practical market-applied technical or professional skills in alternative and renewable energies. This supports the transition away from fossil fuels and the mitigation of the emissions tied to global warming. Building capacity in this way can also stimulate entrepreneurship in the energy sector by redefining at the most fundamental level what skills the energy sector needs, plus changing the technologies and services available at the market level.

Many emerging challenges are, like climate change, long-term dilemmas that are constantly unfolding. Their impact manifests itself in different ways not easily confined to a traditional category such as the environment, security, or economics.

The next generation’s problem-solving needs to be just as dynamic and versatile as the challenges it faces.

Kiron Neale is a Rhodes Scholar at the University of Oxford in the United Kingdom working on his PhD that looks at residential solar energy transitions in Small Islands States. He was an Atlantic Dialogues Emerging Leader in 2016.

Fresh Insights for the Future

By Huw Thomas

The Atlantic Dialogues conference in Marrakech brought together several hundred of the Atlantic Basin’s most prominent minds in business, politics, and academia. Joining them were 40 young Emerging Leaders. These meetings produced some fascinating insights into the differences between the views held by the youth and our more established leaders: the younger generation is much more focused than their elders beyond the present day, thinking about the major issues it expects to emerge between now and 2050.

One example: the extremely rapid development of artificial general intelligence and its propensity for the replacement of human workers in the near term, especially those involved with manual labor and the operation of easily automated processes. The idea of completely replacing human thought-workers such as consultants seems particularly alien, but is something which the academic community is increasingly confident about. Ida Auken’s article for the 2017 World Economic Forum paints a graphic picture of such a possible future, in which most human labor has been automated by 2030. This concept is discussed in much greater depth in Nick Bostrom’s work on superintelligence.

Senior leadership appears to see populism as a challenge which is to be overcome; the Emerging Leaders view it as a clear signal that we need a much stronger focus on education for all, and need to ensure that communication from “the top to the bottom” is much clearer, more understandable, and more engaging.

The continuing escalation of climate change was front of mind for the Emerging Leaders, who understand and accept that we must make some difficult political decisions and potentially dissatisfy many voters in the present to achieve the best outcome for the long-term. The denialism in the United States was viewed as a very poor and ultimately short-term strategy by the Emerging Leaders, who tended to favor focusing on scientific education in order to empower people with an understanding of climate science and a sense of urgency.

What to make of these generational differences? As repeatedly urged in the closing plenary, today’s emerging leadership should be invited or at least allowed to sit at the same table as their more established peers, providing insights into their views of the future of our global society. It is only by allowing this that our senior leadership will be able to steer our society past the difficulties ahead and into a successful future.

Huw Thomas is electricity demand analyst at National Grid, one of the world’s biggest electricity companies. He was an Atlantic Dialogues Emerging Leader in 2016.

Africa Rising, Security Interventions, and the Future of Atlantic Relationships

By Brooks Marmon

WASHINGTON—The dynamic between the nations of the north and south Atlantic is rapidly changing. However, when diplomats of the north Atlantic consider Africa, the most prominent consideration (the recent Ebola crisis notwithstanding) is the rise of extremism and the threats it poses to Western interests. Since 2010, France has played an active role in armed engagement in Mali, Côte d’Ivoire, and the Central African Republic. From the other side of the Atlantic, the United States has launched a drone base in Niger and announced two new security initiatives during the recent U.S. – Africa Leaders’ Summit.

Nevertheless, the West has also been reminded that perceived stalwarts of stability, such as the Compaoré regime in Burkina Faso, can be toppled at the blink of an eye as citizens increasingly mobilize for justice and accountability. The U.S. military has also been tarnished by association with the leaders of recent coups in Burkina Faso and Mali who received significant training from the U.S. military.

A vivid representation of this shift came in the form of the German Marshall Fund’s and OCP’s recently concluded Atlantic Dialogues, where one panelist, former Senegalese Prime Minister Aminata Touré bluntly noted, “the old world order is over.” Former Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo observed in his remarks that Nigeria has been at the forefront of recent regional security efforts. Following the closure of a French military base in Senegal in 2010 and the inability of the U.S. military to establish the United States Africa Command’s headquarters on the continent at roughly the same time, African nations are pushing for a realignment of this relationship as well.

To a great extent, the power dynamics of colonial relationships have already changed drastically, as evinced by the rapid expansion of Angolan firms in Portugal’s banking, telecommunications, and media sectors. The Atlantic Dialogues also demonstrated, albeit somewhat more subtly, the significant changes in the West’s relationship to Africa not only on security issues, but in other key areas like the environment, economics, and diplomacy.

Atlantic Dialogues sessions indicated that conference participants were highly attuned to the changes in the way that Africa is being perceived. Key concerns that emerged from the discussions were the importance of a green revolution in Africa, methods to develop eco-friendly and inclusive cities, and technologies to hold leaders accountable and encourage civic engagement. Representatives from the embassies of West African countries in Rabat attended the meetings in full force and half of the Dialogues’ night owl sessions focused solely on Africa. Some of this attention was driven by security implications, but much of it was also the result of a recognition of Africa’s potential to set the global agenda in the 21st century.

The Dialogues also emphasized the changing demographics within the Atlantic. As Europe and North America’s populations age, Africa’s demographic dividends will reap increasing benefits — younger populations will drive growth and transform gender and social relations. This shift holds the potential to lead to better governance, increased innovation, and more equitable development. Youth will increasingly aspire to careers as sportsmen and scholars rather than soldiers.

Prior to and during the Dialogues, the German Marshall Fund of the United States and the OCP Policy Center convened approximately 50 youth from across the Atlantic as part of its Emerging Leaders program. Approximately half of these leaders hailed from Africa or its diaspora and none of them had a military background. They are multi-lingual and of varied talents, contributing their expertise to financial analysis, media development, and environmental sustainability.

While the West has justified security concerns as a result of certain developments in Africa, Europe and North America run the risk of falling behind the curve in the continent’s resurgence if military considerations continue to trump all others. The Atlantic Dialogues signaled a possible shift in this discourse; it expanded the discussion of Africa beyond conflict issues and placed the continent squarely in the midst of a larger region in which it is often overlooked. The dynamic at the conference will be reflected in changes in the policies, politics, and power of tomorrow. The extent to which the North Atlantic builds constructively on its historic ties to Africa greatly depends on its policymakers embrace of a more transparent and nuanced relationship that accounts for human security as much as military security.

Brooks Marmon is an accountability architect at the Accountability Lab in Liberia and the United States. He was an Atlantic Dialogues Emerging Leader.


Rethinking Transatlantic and Multilateral Response to Crisis and Emergencies in Africa

By Njoya Tikum

ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia—The post-2015 moment requires that we rethink how we enable resilience of institutions in order to achieve sustainable responses to crises and shocks (both human-made and naturally occurring). Africa has been crisis prone in several ways from food insecurity in the Sahel region, to Boko Haram in Nigeria, to border and identity engineered conflicts in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), South Sudan, and the Central African Republic (CAR), these crises have recurred over decades with disastrous effects on the livelihoods of poor and vulnerable groups in Africa. Notwithstanding impressive economic growth over the last decade as well as greater infrastructural and ICT developments, African responses to these recurrent challenges has been undermined by weak leadership, weak public sector institutional capacities, dysfunctional early warning systems, and underinvestment in response frameworks and enforcements of both national and regional norms and standards. This has often resulted in a near monopolization of major crisis responses by North American and European actors.

The net impact of repeated interventions by Northern Atlantic partners in African crises has been the displacement of national and regional institutional capacities. In the long run, this has weakened the case for strengthening African early warning, crisis prevention, and mitigation and transformation competencies.

The current international response framework is designed as a missionary model where Euro-U.S. soldiers, experts, and “do-gooders” come in with jets, expensive SUVs, and iPads to help hapless Africans in distress. These “saviors” from outer-Africa-space often have development prescriptions contained in log frames, frameworks, and infographics. In these impressive prescriptions, there is absolutely no room for African wisdom, experience, or ideas. When these new missionaries leave the scene, communities are no better placed to respond to future crises. Rehumanizing the responses to African crises and emergencies requires much more than a tokenistic engagement with the affected and often times condescending treatment of local communities and institutions.

In order to effectively move beyond these models of engagement, we must unmask the current approaches for what they are and what interests they serve, wittingly or unwittingly. Africa needs to invest now in the requisite capacities, competencies, and institutions to enable concerted, integrated, and well-coordinated efforts to build resilience and empower people, communities, and institutions at the local, national, sub-regional, and continental level

While needed, external help must come with the full consent, consensus, participation, and leadership of Africans and African institutions. In the post-2015 agenda for development, the focus should be on building early detection capacities, mitigation competencies, and organic resilience to humanitarian situations or emergencies through investment in four key areas:

  1. Strengthening public sector institutions such as hospitals, meteorological offices, etc., particularly in data collection and generating knowledge;
  2. Investing in research and development to enable countries to read trends, propose pre-emptive measures, as well as effective responses to ongoing crises;
  3. Building human capacity with a focus on issue-specific centers of excellence within sub-regions, covering among others food security, climate change, conflicts, flood, and disease control. This also entails developing a roster of local and regional experts equipped with skills for disaster preparedness, risk mitigation and management; and
  4. Supporting effective and innovative financing mechanism with funding sources located on the African continent.

There is a need to focus on building the human beings’ and communities’ capabilities whilst developing policies, institutions, and leadership. The nature of crises like Ebola, food insecurity, Boko Haram, or grievance-, identity-, and resource-based conflicts in South Sudan, CAR, and DRC illustrate the need to rethink transatlantic and multilateral responses, frameworks, and methods.

African institutions do not need to be stellar in their performance before they are engaged and involved as equal partners. Those who have — technically and politically — questioned the rationale for supporting African institutions, arguing that they are dysfunctional, perhaps miss the point that these institutions have and will outlive crises. Furthermore, African institutions, to an extent, better represent the views and interests of African citizens than the intervening external actors. Partnerships between the African Union (AU), the Regional Economic Communities or regional mechanism, and external multilateral and bilateral actors have emerged as a major feature of operationalizing of the Africa Peace and Security Architecture (APSA). As indicated by former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, “regional institution like the AU are increasingly called upon to be problem solvers and to deliver concrete result in peacebuilding and conflict resolution.”

To conclude, it is worth emphasizing that rethinking suggests a collective exercise between Africans and their transatlantic partners. It also implies an engagement with affected Africans, communities, researchers, policymakers, and practitioners. Above all it implies investments in research and development, institutions, and centers of excellence. It must be premised on the need to build resilience and not dependence.

Njoya Tikum is regional policy advisor on anti-corruption at the United Nations Development Program in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. He was an Atlantic Dialogues Emerging Leader.


Climate Change in the Atlantic Dialogue

Margot Le Guen

The 2014 Atlantic Dialogues, organized by the German Marshall Fund and the OCP Policy Center in Marrakech, Morocco, hosted many fascinating discussions that reflected the challenges and opportunities that bring together countries surrounding the Atlantic Ocean. As part of these discussions, former President Laura Chinchilla from Costa Rica presented climate change as a challenge within the Atlantic space.

At first glance, it seems odd to include this global phenomenon in a list of issues to be addressed by the transatlantic community — after all, it is a global threat, whose causes and consequences should be a concern of actors beyond just the Atlantic Basin. What’s more, one could argue that it is an issue that is already being addressed at established international forums and conventions. But on further examination, a transatlantic dialogue on transnational environmental challenges may prove to be compelling and effective in tackling this issue. Indeed, multilateralism has not led to major progress in the past 15 years; discussing environmental challenges and opportunities in smaller-size arenas may be the most productive strategy.

The recent announcement of a U.S./China agreement on emission targets, for example, as slim as these commitments may be, represents the most important step toward a significant reduction in greenhouse gases by the two biggest contributors to carbon emissions in at least a decade. This joint announcement was supposed to lay the foundation to successful negotiations for next year in Paris on the occasion of the 21st Conference of Parties (COP) of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), but let’s be honest: it is very unlikely that either China or the United States will commit to anything more ambitious then.

Stewart Patrick predicts it in “The Unruled World” in Foreign Affairs: “that circus [UNFCCC’s annual COP] will increasingly become a sideshow, as the action shifts to less formal settings and narrower groupings of the relevant and capable.”

For historical, geographical, and cultural reasons, regional and multilateral cooperation across the Atlantic Ocean has provided fruitful exchange opportunities for centuries. Strengthening the dialogue between the North and the South, but also between the two Southern regions could create new partnerships to promote low-carbon development policies as well as strategies to adapt to an already changing climate. In particular, clean technology transfer can be a great start.

As of today, China receives about two-thirds of funding from registered Clean Development Mechanisms (CDM)[1] under the Kyoto Protocol and Asia represents 84 percent of all CDMs. North-South as well South-South cooperation in the Atlantic Basin is critical to avoid a deepened marginalization of the Least Developed Countries, notably in Africa, which is a de facto consequence of how international mechanisms to address climate change have been used as of today.

Thus, there needs more diversity in recipient countries, as well as in the types of projects. Indeed, technology transfer not only refers to the development of hard technologies or capital goods, but also to knowledge exchange. Whether it be through shared patents, academic partnerships, or the diffusion of engineering, design, management or maintenance skills, knowledge transfer is undoubtedly an effective strategy toward low-carbon development paths across the Atlantic Ocean, which can only be successful with increased cooperation across transatlantic communities.

While many technologies and processes to promote green growth are known and profitable, many hurdles to technology transfer linger (namely funding and restrictive intellectual property rights) and win-win partnership opportunities to leverage sustainable development remain untapped. Chinchilla’s initial insight that climate change has the potential to be addressed through the Atlantic region indicates that climate change and clean development technology transfer should be at the center of the reevaluation of transatlantic relationships.

Margot Le Guen is a Senior Research Staff Assistant at the International Research Institute for Climate and Society. She was an Atlantic Dialogues Emerging Leader.

[1] This is the main international climate change abatement mechanism, which consists of giving Certified Emission Reduction units to developed countries in exchange for funding low-carbon projects and technology transfers in developing countries.


Bandwidth for Leadership: A Proposal for Investing in the Future

Jaimie Boyd

Today’s young leaders are short on time. This is not a new phenomenon; people with a commitment to public service and a vocation for leadership are often highly engaged, fuelled by a voracious appetite for new challenges. Although young leaders are extremely motivated, they often lack appropriate tools to effectively develop and nurture relevant leadership skills.

Within the context of an increasingly connected, competitive and high-speed world, it is more important than ever to provide the proverbial leaders of tomorrow with clear opportunities for purposive leadership development.

Young leaders benefit profoundly from personal investment in their leadership capacities; however, there are very few opportunities to access such investment. They have restricted exposure to world leaders and limited bandwidth to pursue mentorship opportunities. These challenges can and should be alleviated by seasoned leaders, including those affiliated with the Atlantic Dialogues.

Let’s start by considering why recognized world leaders like those who attend the Atlantic Dialogues should create more opportunities for leadership development. First and foremost, it constitutes prudent succession planning. Many of the countries in the Atlantic Basin are undergoing profound demographic shifts. With either the baby boomer generation retiring or sustained birth rates having their effect, citizens and public policy professionals alike are younger each year. The new generation of leaders has been taught the mantra of patient opportunism, and has heeded advice to avoid overt disruption. But honoring society’s commitment to sustained growth and development within existing power structures requires familiarity with tools that only more seasoned leaders possess.

Second, leaders with a lifetime of experience are uniquely well-placed to cultivate the skills of the next generation. Recent youth movements, like those in Canada and Venezuela, have demonstrated that young leaders are powerful social actors in their own right. But collectively, their power is different than that which the previous generation has exercised in the annals of democratization and development. Young leaders are often restricted to exercising the power of the vulnerable, the downtrodden, and the disenfranchised, who see themselves reflected in protest movements. As valuable as that power is, more experienced leaders have intimate knowledge of the median citizen, and that knowledge is exceptionally valuable to emerging leaders.

Third, deepening opportunities for leadership development can be beneficial to both parties — the emerging and the emerged — because emerging leaders may see things that more seasoned leaders do not. Young people adopt new technologies more quickly and participate in new kinds of economic activity more aggressively. Instinctually, they believe in the sharing economy, consume open data, integrate supply chains globally and virtually, and purchase innovative financial instruments. Their high tolerance for risk and thirst for excitement exposes them to public policy issues that are otherwise undetectable. For example, their familiarity with social media makes them extremely well-placed to examine incipient privacy concerns and develop responsive policy options more effectively than policy leaders who have not yet adopted the relevant technologies.

Increasing interaction between emerging and veteran leaders offers innumerable benefits. Emerging leaders are enriched by learning that their predecessors’ ideas have been personally tested and debated, and that these ideas are more nuanced and less monolithic than is often suggested in the press. They also benefit from a more humanized vision of public personalities. When emerging leaders interact directly with people they have studied in university classes (an opportunity that I recently had at the Atlantic Dialogues!), they realize that the urgency and passion that they have studied is genuine. Such exposure can be extremely motivating.

Finally, one of the most important benefits of fostering direct engagement between generations of leaders is the possibility of recognizing similarities across time. The challenges of meaningful public policy to enhance long term prosperity are nearly universal, even if the contexts in which those policies are developed vary dramatically. As banal as that discovery may appear to the veteran leader, very few young people have to privilege of making the discovery for themselves.

Given the incredible benefits associated with leadership development for young leaders, I urge leaders of all kinds to build opportunities for enhanced engagement across generations. People who care deeply about public policy all benefit from testing their ideas and learning from those who have gone before them. Veteran policy leaders should reflect on their greatest lessons in public policy, and then consider how they might transmit those lessons directly to young leaders. Emerging leaders should similarly seek seasoned leaders, ask them for advice and mentorship, and invite them to engage in ongoing policy debates.

Cross-generational leadership development reflects a sincere commitment to the future of public policy and to young minds that are taking on increasing responsibilities. By enhancing engagement, the emerging generation of leaders will become better equipped to lead policy innovations in favor of sustained development and collective prosperity — no matter how little bandwidth they have to work with.

Jaimie Boyd is a policy analyst at the Department of Industry within the Government of Canada. She was an Atlantic Dialogues Emerging Leader.