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A Sense of Urgency

Why do we argue that "next generation leadership" is needed? As the following numbers reveal, conventional leadership and action have not helped move human society unto a more humane and environmentally benign path. All these numbers are quite recent – from 2012-2015.


The daily net increase of global population between 2000 and 2030. Every five or six days, one more city the size of Hiroshima or Copenhagen is added to the world, so to say. This steady increase in population drives a continuous expansion of the "human economy" (the economic transactions needed to sustain decent livelihoods) and places an ever greater pressure on Earth's life support systems.

11 billion

The United Nations estimates that global population may exceed 11 billion in 2100, as compared to 7.4 billion in 2016. Enabling all people on Earth to live decent, humane lives in peace, while protecting the natural environment for future generations, is the key challenge our species is facing in the 21st century.


The World Bank predicts that waste from urban areas will increase from 1.3 to 2.2 billion tons per year between 2012 and 2025 - an almost 70% increase in just 13 years. At the same time, we are clogging the world's oceans with trillions of plastic pieces.


Despite warnings from scientists, atmospheric CO2 levels keep rising and for the first time crossed the 400 ppm threshold in 2014. And we just keep burning those fossil fuels that really should be kept in the ground.

565 gigatons versus 2795 gigatons

Scientists estimate that in order to keep the Earth's temperature increase below 2 degrees Celcius (compared with pre-industrial revolution temperatures), humanity can emit a maximum of 565 billion tons more carbon dioxide. If we were to burn all the fossil fuel reserves confirmed today, this would emit about 2795 billion tons. Our ability to wean ourselves off fossil fuels is the major energy challenge of our time.

1% > 99%

Oxfam, the respected UK non-governmental organization, reports that in 2016, the richest 1% of the world's population owned more than 50% of the world's wealth. That is, they will have more money and assets than the remaining 99%. (Indeed, the 62 wealthiest people in the world in 2016, owned more than the poorest 3.7 billion people). This huge gap between rich and poor is not just grossly unfair, but also detrimental to peace and a harmonious co-existence.

Action is the only way to change status quo

These figures are a few symptoms of the disease from which modern civilization is suffering. The cure lies in new forms of leadership, which inspire new criteria for decision-making, which, in turn, enable new patterns of action.
To move towards a sustainable civilization, NELIS argues that we need

  • to have hope, vision and courage
  • to use the power of networking (and networks within networks)
  • to support and link passionate people insisting on and acting for sustainability across the globe (whom we call "next generation leaders")
in order to create the largest possible ripple effect in the shortest possible span of time.