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Calls for ‘long-view leadership’ of existential threats

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Calls for ‘long-view leadership’ of existential threats

A letter has been signed by over 100 leaders, including former prime minister Gordon Brown and businessman Sir Richard Branson

Former prime minister Gordon Brown and businessman Sir Richard Branson have joined business leaders, Nobel laureates and global political figures to call for “long-view leadership” in the face of existential threats like climate change.

More than 130 leading figures have signed an open letter from The Elders and the Future of Life Institute, to stress the importance of tackling the many escalating risks to humanity.

These include the climate and nature crisis, pandemics, nuclear weapons and ungoverned artificial intelligence (AI).

The letter, published on Thursday, said world leaders are failing to act or co-operate over the threats as millions of lives and livelihoods already face catastrophic impacts.

Signatories called for a “long-view leadership” – defining it as the “determination to resolve intractable problems not just manage them, the wisdom to make decisions based on scientific evidence and reason, and the humility to listen to all those affected”.

The Elders and the Future of Life Institute also stressed the need for urgent multilateral action, outlining measures like financing the transition away from fossil fuels, concluding an equitable pandemic treaty, restarting nuclear arms talks and building the global governance for AI.

Signatories include former Irish president Mary Robinson, former UN secretary-general Ban Ki-moon, former Colombian president Juan Manuel Santos and former executive secretary of the UNFCCC, Christiana Figueres.

Singer Annie Lennox, former Unilever chief executive Paul Polman and J. Robert Oppenheimer’s grandson, Charles Oppenheimer, also signed.

The letter comes ahead of the Munich Security Conference, where government officials, military leaders and diplomats will meet to discuss international security.

The signatories urged those at the conference to address these challenges head on as preparations continue for September’s UN Summit for the Future.

They also invited members of the public across communities, generations and political spectrums to sign the letter.

Ms Robinson, chairwoman of The Elders, a group of global leaders founded by the late former president of South Africa, Nelson Mandela, said: “Our world is in grave danger, but with long-view leadership rooted in truth, justice and inclusion, we can still step back from the precipice.

“This does not mean global decision-makers should neglect the challenges we face today; it means making decisions that go beyond short-term politics and delivering solutions for people struggling now, as well as future generations.”

Mr Ban, who is also deputy chairman of The Elders, said: “The range of signatories to this open letter makes clear our shared concern: we need world leaders who understand the existential threats we face and the urgent need to address them.

“This can only be done through decisive co-operation between nations.

“We need to revitalise multilateralism for the sake of our common future. This means upholding the international rule of law and being open and accountable for the decisions we must take.”

Mr Santos said: “Too many leaders in politics and business today are following short-term agendas.

“They need to look beyond electoral and reporting cycles and instead pursue policies based on solidarity and sustainability.

“The need for principled and effective leadership has never been greater. Only a multilateral approach towards the goal of net zero, with renewed pressure on big emitters, will help avert catastrophe.”

Published: by Radio NewsHub

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