Today’s leaders don’t have the luxury of facing just one crisis at a time, says global strategist Parag Khanna. To lead in the 21st century, he advises, they must become fluent in three languages: geopolitics, geoeconomics and geotechnology.
Much of the chaos is caused by how interconnected the world is today, he says, adding, “We know that COVID-19 exacerbated social unrest and polarization. Geopolitics disrupted supply chains and so forth.
For the first time in history, Europe, America, Asia, Middle East, Africa, Latin America – they all matter, and they’re all freely associating with each other, forming relationships.”
While that’s good, it creates chaos, the result of, “No one [country] gets to call all the shots to say you can or you cannot trade with or do business with or have a military relationship with another.”
But by understanding how politics, economics and the development and use of technology are interconnected among nations, leaders can best face their business challenges and make globalization work for everyone.
“We don’t believe that it’s up to the World Trade Organization to manage the world economy or that the U.N. Security Council is going to deliver peace to all of us,” Khanna says. “Everyone plays a role in all these issues. And maybe the most important thing we have to do is to overcome these false divides.”
By ‘false divides,’ Khanna points to divisions made up between social groups and intellectual camps. We can’t, he explains, afford to look at it as Wall Street versus Main Street, city versus rural, open versus closed borders, globalist versus nationalist.
“None of you believes that it’s up to someone else to find solutions. Because in the world that we’re heading into, we need all hands on deck. We need collaboration across stakeholders, governments with the business community,” Khanna says.
Future generations are depending on you
Central to the conversation is what Khanna calls the ‘future of the human species.’
“Sixty percent of the world population is Millennials, Gen Z and Gen Alpha,” he says. “What kind of world are we building for them? Are these political, economic, social, technological systems the right fit for them?”
I want all of you to think about, what are the coalitions that you are part of that you can build to resolve those challenges, to meet those gaps that young people face in the world, to make the world a better place for them. ”
— Parag Khanna, Climate Alpha Founder and CEO and Founder and Managing Partner of Future Map share
Studying the younger generations, Khanna and his organization have concluded, “They have the right values. They believe that connectivity is a human right. Mobility is a human right. Sustainability is a human right,” he says before asking what they’re doing to contribute to making the world the best it can be for the next generations.
Accept the challenge
Khanna challenges today’s CEOs to embrace their roles as not just business leaders, but as community leaders influencing policy.
“I want all of you to think about, what are the coalitions that you are part of that you can build to resolve those challenges, to meet those gaps that young people face in the world, to make the world a better place for them.”
If the challenge can be met, he says, “Maybe it won’t be a world where we wake up to a new crisis every single day.”
Parag Khanna addressed business leaders at EDGE, YPO’s premier annual event and the largest gathering of CEOs in the world. For three days in New York City, more than 2,500 chief executives from 80 countries gather with influential thought leaders and experts to learn about and discuss critical topics in business and beyond. EDGE fosters a culture of trust, respect and inclusivity, where global leaders emerge with solutions to drive change and help shape our collective future. YPO EDGE returns to New York City in 2023 and 2024 and is open to all YPO members. Learn more about EDGE
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