ITAM’s 5th Social Commitment Seminar, held in Mexico City in November 2018, brought together social leaders dedicated to serving a variety of causes throughout the world. In this context, ITAM was the venue for the presentation of the Eliasson Global Leadership Prizes 2018, awarded by the Tällberg Foundation “to leaders from any country and any discipline whose work is innovative, optimistic and courageous, rooted in universal values and global in implication.”
ITAM President Dr. Arturo Fernández, who inaugurated the event, stated that the seminar first began because of the Institute’s interest in providing a meeting space for reflection for members of civil society organizations who are devoted to human and social development. He emphasized that this university works to train the people that Mexico needs for the future, as it instills in them a strong, grounded willpower based on love and commitment to civic values in the pursuit of personal development and social progress.
Alan Stoga, founder and Chairman of the board of the Tällberg Foundation, said that his love for Mexico and ITAM’s institutional excellence to train leaders were the reasons why they chose this Institute as the venue for the awards ceremony. He remarked that the winners of this prize possess features that define them as social leaders: They ask intelligent questions about issues that are pertinent to their contexts; they seek to generate a positive change in the world, and they do not think of their differences as an obstacle but as an opportunity.
Natalia Villalpando, CEO of CREA, Dina Buchbinder, Chairwoman of Educación para Compartir (Education to Share), and Rosa Isela Gluyas, CEO of BAL Foundation, participated in the first panel on “Disruptive Social Projects Led by Mexicans.” The three agreed that the momentum of cooperative social leadership and early empowerment of children and women from marginal communities is needed to favor social progress.
Social Leaders’ Reflections, or How to Generate Lasting Change
Two of the winners of the Eliasson Prize led the second panel on the social impact of art and science. Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy, a charismatic Pakistani filmmaker and journalist, used her art of “telling stories” to attract the attention of her global audience to problems that affect marginalized communities with the objective of changing minds and legislation. On the other hand, Rafael Yuste, professor at Columbia University and a very prominent neuroscientist who inspired the US Brain Initiative project, talked about an ethical framework for more advanced neuroscientific research. It was a memorable panel because of the inspiring and profound comments by both winners.
Katyna Argueta, of the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), and Diane Osgood, senior advisor on sustainability, innovation and purpose at The Tembo Group, participated in the panel, “Measure, Create Bridges and Facilitate Change.” Argueta said that in 2015 nearly all the objectives that had been proposed for the year 2000 were met. However, she emphasized that much work remains to be done. For that reason, the UN postulated the 2030 Agenda, whose goal is to eradicate poverty, take care of the planet and maintain prosperity. Diane stressed that philanthropic work contributes to closing the economic gap due to declining government support, especially in developed countries.
The subject of leadership for peace was presented by the founders of the Plateforme des Confessions Religieuses de Centrafrique (PCRC), who won a shared award within the Eliasson Global Leadership Prizes: Imam Omar Kobine Layama, president of the Central African Islamic Community; Cardinal Dieudonné Nzapalainga, archbishop of Bangui, and Nicolas Guérékoyame-Gbangou, president of the Evangelical Alliance of the Central African Republic. In their presentation, they shared with the audience the recent history of the political, social and religious situation of the central region of Africa. Their cooperative efforts began in 2012, when the religious tensions in that region became politicized, giving rise to a cycle of violence and insecurity. Together they have focused on promoting forgiveness, justice and love within their respective communities based on respect for different ideologies. Working together, they have progressed in their search for safeguarding their beliefs and their followers from political manipulation and orchestration.
Finally, Max Kaiser and Burghard Petersen participated in the panel “Leadership to Create a Citizen Consciousness.” Max Kaiser, advisor to the United Nations on corruption, said that civil society must be involved in influencing political decisions, so that they benefit society. Burghard Petersen, strategy director at EarthX, called on those present to give priority to environmental issues. Although both social leaders work in different areas, they concluded that the work of a single person cannot generate a long-lasting change: Only the innovative ideas and proposals that we build together generate change.
In conclusion, Alejandra Peralta Borja, VP for Advancement and Institutional Communication at ITAM and coordinator of this seminar, was enthusiastic about the outstanding participation of the ITAM community in social issues. Alfredo Orellana, who heads the ITAM’s Alumni Association, said he has witnessed the commitment and influence of ITAM graduates in various fields, especially in the social leadership in our country.
The winners of the 2019 Tällberg/ Eliasson Global Leadership Prize
The three winners of the 2019 Tällberg / Eliasson Prize were Anne Goldfeld, Saul Griffith and Faustin Linyekula. To learn more about them and their contributions to improving the world around us, we invite you to watch the following video: