Innovation and Leadership Development – Fresh Perspectives on Global Change Processes

Project description

Title: Global Leadership Academy
Commissioned by: German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ)
Country: supraregional / worldwide
Overall term: 2012 to 2022


The world is facing fundamental challenges. Future-oriented innovation and leadership skills are needed to cope with the demand for sustainable development under increasingly difficult conditions. Decision-makers today must think, act and lead on a global scale. Systemic thinking, cooperation and innovation have never been more important than in today’s interdependent world. Yet only few institutions manage to identify the systemic causes of acute crises, and to find and successfully implement innovative solutions.


The innovative capacity and leadership skills of managers, change agents and key institutions in the political sphere, the private sector and civil society are improved.


The Global Leadership Academy commissioned by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) provides decision-makers from all areas of society with an opportunity to discover new solutions to global challenges and develop innovative approaches in their spheres of influence. Together with well-known cooperation partners, such as the Presencing Institute, the Deep Democracy Institute and the Nelson Mandela Foundation, the Global Leadership Academy offers dialogue-oriented leadership development programmes across policy fields. These include the Global Wellbeing and Gross National Happiness Lab, the Mandela Dialogues on Memory Work and the Passion and Politics Lab. The Global Leadership Academy is responsible for developing the programme structures, supervising implementation and ensuring quality together with the cooperation partners.

The programmes identify and bring together people from developing countries, emerging economies and industrialised countries who can make a significant contribution towards overcoming specific global challenges. The approach used by the leadership and innovation labs is based on the latest dialogue and change research findings. Consistent networking among the participating individuals and their organisations expands both their sphere of influence and their opportunities for effecting change in the long term. The projects developed by the participants over the course of the dialogue processes and their changed attitudes towards leadership and cooperation provide an important stimulus in their own systems and ’spheres of action.


A survey among participants in the Passion and Politics Lab pilot programme showed that the programme tangibly improved their leadership skills and innovative capacity. The ’17 change projects developed in the Passion and Politics Lab range from an initiative for promoting ethical principles in Egyptian politics and society to a project for establishing trusting relationships between citizens and the municipal administration in the Palestinian territories of the West Bank.

In addition to the participants’ individual change projects, the Global Wellbeing and Gross National Happiness Lab ’helped produce numerous joint project proposals, which are being implemented (in part transnationally) by several participants from different institutions. Projects include: Genuine Progress Indicators in the United States; Transformation Hub, Brazil; Whose Development? Focusing on an Economy for India that Meets People’s Needs; Gross National Happiness in Business; and GNH Centre Bhutan Prototype. The Transformation Hub project, for example, is establishing a centre in Brazil that aims to support the practical implementation of change to create a fairer, more sustainable society.

Those who took part in the Mandela Dialogues on Memory Work have expanded their methodological competences in the fields of innovation and dialogue. Numerous initiatives were developed through the dialogues, for example media-based projects for memory work and a mobile Center of Memory for the Inuit in Canada, the inclusion of perpetrators in activities aimed at coming to terms with the past in Cambodia, the planning of a regional dialogue for memory work in Latin America and the development of dialogue structures in Bosnia for integrating the younger generation into efforts to come to terms with the past.

Additional information