The Best Leaders in Modern Diplomacy
Who should we aspire to look up to in the world of diplomacy? There are so many leaders and inspirational people who have changed or currently changing our history. These leaders stand out because of their compassion, hard work, empathy, and their drive to make this world a better place.
Amina Mohammed is the current Deputy Secretary-General of the United Nations and a former Minister of Environment in Nigeria. She has worked as a special advisor for UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and during that time, she united 193 countries to endorse the Sustainable Development Goals. She particularly focused on bridging the gap between developing and developed countries, and continues to advocate for the eradication of poverty, tackling climate change, and making renewable energy more attractive to oil-producing countries.
Before she joined the UN, Mohammed worked as the Special Advisor on the Millennium Development Goals in Nigeria – providing advice on poverty, public sector reform and sustainable development. In 2019, she focused on the sustainable and environmental development of and in cities, as she raised concerns that cities might not face the challenges of today and tomorrow when it comes to flood and hurricane resilience.
Artificial Intelligence is the next big thing. It will completely overturn life as we know it and change how our economy, industry, work, and society functions. It, therefore, becomes extremely important to feed AI with unbiased and reliable data. This is where Joy Buolamwini comes in.
Imagine an autonomous car which recognises people due to its input data. If this data includes people with lighter skin colour, the car will better recognise people with such skin colour but will worsen in recognition when it comes to darker skin colour. Buolamwini, a Ghanaian-American compute scientist, recognised such bias in data. As a computer scientist, she has proven to companies such as Microsoft and IBM that facial-recognition technology is much better at recognising lighter-skinned people than dark-skinned people.
Her studies and research brought together two tech-giants to update their technologies and software. Since then, she has established the “Algorithm Justice League” which challenges biases in data of decision-making software. With her ongoing work and discovery, she has fought not only racism but also, sexism in AI algorithms as many data is based on lighter-skinned men than women. She has also talked at TEDx Talks bringing her work to a larger audience by talking about how to fight bias in algorithms.
In summer 2018, “Land O’Lakes”, a food and agriculture company famous for its butter products and with nearly $14 billion in revenue, announced that Beth Ford will become the next CEO of the company. Ford became the first out of 25 women taking over a Fortune 500 company and one of the first openly gay CEO. Her promotion to CEO hailed a huge victory for LGBTQ community as LGBTQ people still face discrimination at work.
Since then, Ford has led as a role model for the LGBTQ community and has not let her sexual orientation get in the way of her leadership role and success. If anything, she has gained an impressive status as a modern leader of the future. While she has considered the impact of her company and family being a gay-female CEO, she sees it as a shared responsibility for management teams and their talent development to treat women and LGTBQ people without discrimination, especially within Fortune 500 companies.
As he succeeded his father Akihito as the next Emperor of Japan on 30 April 2019, the new era “Reiwa” began – ending the 30-year-long “Heisei” era. While he has taken on the symbolic responsibility of being Japan’s leader, Emperor Naruhito has also taken on a traditional and conservative legacy which he seeks to change.
Emperor Naruhito is considered the first modern Japanese leader who is especially passionate about the global environment, water policy and water conservation. The Oxford-educated Emperor has been actively involved in the area of water protection and conservation, and he has even published a book “The Thames and I: A Memoir of Two Years” at Oxford. Nevertheless, his interest extends beyond academia. The Emperor has served as the honorary president of the Third World Water Forum, where he gave a speech on “Waterways connecting Kyoto and Local Regions”. He also gave a keynote speech for the Fourth World Water Forum’s opening, talking about “Edo and Water Transport”. He also gave a commemorative talk at the opening ceremony for the First Asia-Pacific Water Summit, “Humans and Water: From Japan to the Asia-Pacific Region” and spoke at the Closing ceremony of the UN Secretary-General’s Advisory Board on water and sanitation.
As a symbolic leader who not only touches Japan on political and cultural level, the environmental and sustainable mindset will triple down to Japan’s population. As water continues to be scarce with the growth of the world population, we need more leaders who, despite their political and legislative restrictions, push on to achieving their goals that will benefit the world.
Joshua Wong is a battle-harden pro-democracy activist leader who became one of Hong Kong’s fiercest political activists. By the Chinese media, he has been called an extremist and an immature leader, but in Hong Kong’s eyes, he has been celebrated as an innovator who has changed Hong Kong’s activism. In 2011, Wong formed the student activist group “Scholarism” which was active in education and youth policy reforms. The main goal of Scholarism was to defend Hong Kong’s autonomy in education policy from Chinese influence. In 2012, Wong and his Scholarism group led 120,000 people into a demonstration against a pro-Communist Hong Kong school curriculum, which was later overturned due to the group’s activity.
In 2014, however, when the Chinese Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress proposed changes to Hong Kong’s electoral system, which would limit the right to vote, the right to be elected and to be nominated, the group developed as a more politically active organisation. It began leading several sit-in street protests, now better known as the “Umbrella Revolution”, which would gain much international attention, particularly as Wong used nonviolent protest messages and energetic idealism to gather crowds.”
While Wong has been undergoing psychological pressure due to the risk of being arrested or unable to return to Hong Kong or China, he continued to press on by dissolving Scholarism in 2016 and forming the pro-democracy party called “Demosisto” which fights for Hong Kong’s self-determination. Furthermore, Wong has been convicted several times due to protests during the Umbrella movement with the latest conviction being in May 2019.
Due to his proactive role and exemplary leadership, Times magazine included him as one of the Most Influential Teens of 2014, while Fortune magazine featured him as one of the world’s greatest leaders. He has also been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize in 2017.