Skip to main content

What is long-view leadership and why are Elders calling for it?

Share this:
The Elders believe a bold new approach to decision-making is needed to urgently address the existential threats faced by humanity. But what does ‘long-view leadership’ look like?


The climate and nature crises, pandemics, nuclear weapons and the emerging risks of AI - we face a set of threats that put all humanity in jeopardy. The Elders believe world leaders are not responding with the wisdom and urgency required, and are calling for a bold new approach to these existential threats.

The impact of these threats is already being seen. Whilst the knowledge and resources to address these challenges exist, too many of our leaders lack the political will or capability to take decisive action.

This is why The Elders are calling for ‘long-view leadership’. We need decision-makers who understand the urgency of the existential threats we face, and believe in our ability to overcome them.


Principles of long-view leadership

Long-view leadership means showing 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.

Long-view leaders must have the moral strength to address both current concerns and long-term risks, often at the expense of vested interests.

The Elders propose five principles of long-view leadership. Decision-makers must consistently demonstrate the courage to:

  1. Think beyond short-term political cycles and deliver solutions for both current and future generations.
  2. Recognise that enduring answers require compromise and collaboration for the good of the whole world.
  3. Show compassion for all people, designing sustainable policies which respect that everyone is born free and equal in dignity and rights.
  4. Uphold the international rule of law and accept that durable agreements require transparency and accountability.
  5. Commit to a vision of hope in humanity’s shared future, not play to its divided past.

An open letter calling for long-view leadership on existential threats

On 15 February 2024, The Elders and the Future of Life Institute launched a combined call for long-view leadership in an open letter to world leaders.

The letter was co-signed by a diverse global coalition from politics, civil society, science, philanthropy, activism and the arts. Over 150 global leaders, experts and public figures from nearly 60 countries came together to urge decision-makers to collaborate on bold, practical solutions to combat the ongoing harms and escalating risks faced by humanity.

The letter welcomes people of all communities, generations, and political views to join the call for courageous decision-making. Sign the open letter here.

Mary Robinson, former President of Ireland, and Chair of The Elders: 

“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. This is entirely possible: if nations work together, our best future can still lie ahead of us.”     

Ban Ki-moon, former UN Secretary-General and Deputy Chair of The Elders:

"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 cooperation 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. When nations work together, these challenges can all be addressed, for the good of us all.”

Max Tegmark, president and founder, Future of Life Institute:

“Global leaders have a critical opportunity to turn the course of human history away from disaster, towards inspiring, shared futures. We've risen together to meet such crises before, from banning bioweapons to rebuilding the ozone layer, and we can do so again now. With effective governance and intentional cooperation, we can combat both ongoing harms and rapidly escalating risks, while ensuring that the benefits of transformative technologies such as AI are shared by everyone.”

Share this article

Keep up to date with The Elders’ COVID-19 digest:

Sign up to receive regular updates about The Elders’ activities during the COVID-19 pandemic. We will never share your email address with third parties.

Keep up to date with The Elders latest News and Insight:

Sign up to receive monthly newsletters from The Elders. We will occasionally send you other special updates and news, but we'll never share your email address with third parties.


I would like to find: