Moral and political leadership in a time of uncertainty

Members of the Climate Vulnerable Forum, a group of around 47 countries who are most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change, and most committed to leading a rapid transformation in their own countries to a carbon-neutral, climate resilient economy. Photo: CVF

Writing in the Financial Times as the World Economic Forum 2017 opens in Davos, Mary Robinson says that millions of people feel left behind by the actions of governments and corporations.

Millions across the world feel that the current globalised system is not working in their best interests. From unemployed former steel workers in the US “Rust Belt”, to the small island states in the South Pacific whose livelihoods are threatened by climate change, people are angry that decisions taken by governments and in corporate boardrooms appear blithely indifferent to their daily struggles.

We know from history that crude populism offers no real solutions, only false hope and scapegoats. Yet it is also clear that there are many politicians who will cynically exploit genuine grievances for their own ends.

All of this means that the new year is beginning amid uncertainty and trepidation at every level in society. Potentially seismic changes in political leadership in 2017, not only in the United States but also across Europe, Iran, India and parts of Africa could disrupt established institutions and multilateral processes.

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