LEADERSHIP FOR THE FUTURE
Year in and year out, a number of global studies attempt to rank the best places to live in the world in terms of education, job security and healthcare. Canada always features high on these lists, if not right at the top. Our country is recognized for its political stability and high quality of living. It is known for being safe, welcoming and culturally diverse, built on a strong and open economy that supports communities and social structures, Canada is also seen as a pre-eminent knowledge society – a society in which the creation, dissemination, and utilization of information and knowledge is a significant lever of its economic prosperity.
As we enter the 2020s, the possibilities may seem endless—but nothing is ever guaranteed. Inspired leadership, sharp governance and citizen engagement will be necessary to ensure this remains true.
In our institutions and in our schools, the choices we make in the coming years will have far-reaching consequences. Our response to global challenges such as climate change, public health, migration, food and water security and social disparities will shape our collective well-being for generations to come.
According to UNESCO, relying on science, data and evidence as vectors to make decisions and improve quality of life will be key . People and governments will require quality information to make decisions on issues relating to health, education and the environment, and parliaments will need the best knowledge available to legislate on societal issues.
But these days, decisions are often made in a context of increased polarization and constantly shifting social and political landscapes, where a common understanding of objectives and directions (and a common acceptance of facts!) can no longer be taken for granted. Disruptive forces arising from misinformation, social media influence, echo chambers, the explosion of technologies, AI and Big Data contribute to a growing tendency to base decisions on preconceived bias, “gut feelings” and unverified sources. Besides inhibiting our ability to work together to solve problems, such polarization threatens the foundation that underpins free and democratic societies.
In a complex, rapidly changing, interconnected world where information proliferates, the need for critical thinking to discern the real from the false and to determine the path forward will become more crucial than ever. In addition, current and future generations will need to collaborate and communicate, acquire a diversity of skills and think critically in order to adapt to a world in constant movement. The leadership required to achieve consensus on issues of this importance will be nothing short of exceptional.
So how does Canada prepare for the future?
By addressing issues on all fronts, including access to information and education, reconciliation with Indigenous peoples, and reduction in wealth disparity, just to name a few. And by being ready to lead the way.
The 2020 Governor General’s Canadian Leadership Conference is one of the forums we are proposing to you to engage in this most important discussion. During two weeks of high-powered presentations and conversations, 250 leaders will be invited to get together to ponder these issues and help shape Canadians’ responses to upcoming challenges. Conference participants will come from every field, every segment and corner of the country. Speakers from all over the world will join them to stimulate debate and broaden the understanding of the problems we face. Together, attendees will explore the responsibility of decision makers to confront preconceived notions and the need to embrace data and evidence in order to thoroughly analyze the arguments and assumptions they are presented with—in sum, to think critically for the common good.
If you like challenges, have the future at heart and want to make a difference for your country, the 2020 Governor General’s Canadian Leadership Conference is the place for you.