The World Economic Forum’s Young Global Leaders community is a network of leaders inspiring new ways of driving social change. TIME asked a few members of the community to share their solutions for rebuilding trust in 2024 and beyond.
Razan Al Mubarak, President, International Union for Conservation of Nature
In 2024, we must rebuild trust in nature’s ability to help achieve our climate goals. Many treat biodiversity loss and climate change as separate issues. But they are two sides of the same coin. If we don’t protect nature, our climate agenda will fail.
Nature is the most effective carbon sink at our disposal today, capturing over 50% of emissions resulting from human activities. Through the conservation and restoration of soil, forests, and wetlands, nature-based solutions (NBS) implemented at scale can contribute 37% of climate-mitigation efforts required by the Paris Agreement by 2030. And NBS can be implemented faster and more cost-effectively than engineered solutions, which can negatively influence other resources and are decades away from removing carbon on the scale nature can.
NBS are low-tech and affordable and could create many jobs, making them particularly suited to the developing world, where the impact of climate change and environmental degradation is felt most acutely. But they must be grounded in Indigenous rights, leadership, knowledge, and stewardship. Indigenous and local communities must be included in decisionmaking around their land. This takes time and partnerships built on trust.
Today, nature is not only undervalued, it’s also under threat. If we don’t work to protect it, in only a few years’ time, it won’t be a “solution” that we can rely on.
Ilwad Elman, Chief Operating Officer, Elman Peace and Human Rights Centre
Our world faces a tangled labyrinth of crises. Climate change and environmental degradation strangle the planet, while widening inequality and global democratic decline hollow out nations.
One solution lies in fostering a regenerative economy for peace. Inspired by nature’s restorative power, this model embraces biomimicry and continuous transformation, ensuring that we don’t just take from the planet, but also nurture it for future generations.
Imagine a world where businesses operate on a foundation of sustainability, prioritizing both environmental well-being and human capital. This is a world where wealth is viewed holistically, encompassing social, cultural, and intellectual capital alongside financial resources. And where progress isn’t measured by short-term gains but by long-term impact, ensuring prosperity and well-being for generations to come.
Achieving this vision requires a global shift in mindset. We need collaboration: partnerships that transcend sectors and borders. We need to shift perspectives: countering individualistic and exploitative narratives with a global vision for shared prosperity. Finally, we need to amplify goodwill: tapping into the kindness and compassion within communities to drive positive change.
By demonstrating the interconnectedness of our planet and its inhabitants, this model invites us to move beyond self-interest and embrace a more responsible future.
Shoukei Matsumoto, Buddhist Monk and Founder, Interbeing
Time matters. The basis of building trust is time. It cannot be built overnight, but it can be broken instantly.
In the age of 100-year life spans, are we more likely to think about the long term as we live longer? The reality is the opposite. Politicians are preoccupied with the next election, businesspeople are busy with quarterly results, and everyone is distracted by the incessant notifications from their smartphones. In an environment filled with stimuli that drive us toward short-termism, we have to consciously cultivate the ability to think and act longer.
Instead of focusing on the present, we should ask: How can we become good ancestors for the future generation?
This question, posed by Roman Krznaric in his book The Good Ancestor, is exactly what the leaders today should ask themselves. One hundred years from now, in the year 2124, we will all be the ancestors of the future generations. We ourselves, who wish future generations to live a life where they can say, “I am glad I was born,” were also wished the same happiness by the dead who came before us. Now it’s our turn. What can we do to leave our descendants more options?
We must urgently tackle the massive global issues that face us. However, we must temper the concerns of the “now” with the “long now” to earn the trust of future generations.
Françoise Moudouthe, CEO, African Women’s Development Fund
From abortion rights in the U.S. to access to education for girls in Afghanistan, when it comes to gender equality, no gain is ever secure. In Gambia, where 76% of women endure the pain of female genital mutilation, parliament is under pressure to decriminalize the practice—only eight years after it was outlawed.
Gender equality is one of the globally agreed Sustainable Development Goals, but progress toward it has been slow. The U.N. says it will take 300 years to achieve gender equality worldwide. Expecting women to wait three centuries to enjoy basic human rights is not acceptable.
To accelerate progress, we must invest in feminist movements, led by people who directly experience the injustices they fight against.
These movements go beyond the symptoms of injustice to tackle its root causes, like patriarchy. Without them, there would be no abortion rights in Argentina or Poland, rape would not have been criminalized in Senegal, and teenage mothers would still be banned from schools in Sierra Leone. Women, girls, and gender–expansive people bear the brunt of the multiple crises the world is facing, and conservative political and religious movements are coordinating a brutal anti-rights backlash.
Feminist movements need direct funding, rather than through institutions with agendas. And it’s critical to invest not just in projects, but also in the well-being and resilience of the activists who do the work.
Nico Rosberg, Investor, entrepreneur, and 2016 Formula One World Champion
In a world filled with skepticism, how do we build trust? The answer is straightforward: You earn it. By delivering results. After all, trust isn’t given freely. When it comes to investing in top startups and funds, I must first prove my value beyond financial input. Neither my name nor past accomplishments as an investor or Formula One world champion can assist me here. What matters is what I can bring to the table now.
My key strength is my extensive network, which enables me to act as a connector and facilitator, linking promising startups with industry leaders. For example, a group of British engineers and thinkers aimed to combat rising energy prices and climate change with commission-free clean energy. I invested in their startup. But more importantly, I connected them with one of Europe’s largest energy providers. On paper, they are competitors, but now they can collaborate toward a greater goal: achieving green transformation by producing affordable, sustainable energy.
We need more such collaborations that transcend perceived boundaries and rivalries. This process begins with trusted individuals acting as intermediaries. Through personal relationships, they create opportunities for shared success, fostering mutual trust and a belief in progress.
Every step we take in fostering trust among ourselves, particularly in innovation and technology, brings us closer to solving the challenges of our time. Rebuilding trust begins at an individual level but achieves its fullest potential through collective action. We must embrace this mission, aiming to construct a future where trust forms the bedrock of all successful endeavors.
Let’s walk this path together.
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