FIE: Foundation for International Education

Student Global Leadership Conference 2021: Leadership at a Time of Crisis in an Uncertain World, by Judy Ling Wong

May 05, 2021 FIE Season 1 Episode 2
FIE: Foundation for International Education
Student Global Leadership Conference 2021: Leadership at a Time of Crisis in an Uncertain World, by Judy Ling Wong
Show Notes Transcript

FIE is back with the second of our Student Global Leadership Conference podcast series. Next up is the incredible Judy Ling Wong who served as a keynote speaker for the second SGLC in a row because she’s just that good!

Judy Ling Wong is a painter, poet, and environmentalist best known as the Honorary President of the Black Environment Network. She has an international reputation as the pioneer and creator of the field of multi-cultural participation in the built and natural environment. Judy is always a joy to listen to, encouraging us to think a little differently and motivating us along the way. So sit back and enjoy Judy’s 2021 keynote speech titled Leadership at a time of Crisis in an Uncertain World.

BBC 4 Woman's Hour Power List: Our Planet - The Big Reveal
TEDxPeoplesPlan - Beyond the Climate Crisis Bubble | Judy Ling Wong 


Hello, hello. Victor here again, back with the second of our Student Global Leadership Conference 2021 podcast series. Next up is the incredible Judy Ling Wong who has now served as a keynote speaker twice in FIE’s annual SGLC, because she’s just that good! 

Judy Ling Wong is a painter, poet, and environmentalist best known as the Honorary President of the Black Environment Network. She has an international reputation as the pioneer and creator of the field of multi-cultural participation in the built and natural environment. Judy is always a joy to listen to, encouraging us to think a little differently and motivating along the way. So sit back and enjoy Judy’s 2021 keynote speech titled Leadership at a time of Crisis in an Uncertain World.


Good morning, it is my pleasure to be with you all. I'm a poet, painter, and environmentalist best known as an honorary president of black environment network. I'm seen as a leader in my field with diversity, equality and inclusion as key themes. I will begin this talk by talking about approaching leadership as a journey. Today, I will be talking about how to interpret crisis at a time of great uncertainty and great public need against your own particular goals. At the very top leaders position themselves as symbols of working for the public good, for the many, not the few. At the same time, I see leadership at the level of family and community. It's just as important. In fact, it is the evolution of ways of thinking, and an individual and communal level that enables the implementation of national policy. If they're not aligned, there's a huge struggle, who we are, and what we can achieve depends on how we see ourselves against the enormous pressure of how others see us. This is very obvious on minorities of all kinds, but this is also true for everyone. The opportunities and the pressures come from all levels. Just last week, the UN published a new report cities and pandemics and propose the international consideration of a new social contract, with multilateralism, diversity, equality, and inclusion based on the right base framework against the reality of the Human Rights Act. How does leadership emerge? Let's look at my own journey. I started off as a poet and painter. And as usual with any young artists, I have to make ends meet. My own early experience of repeated displacement has enabled me to identify with minorities as seek to represent. But looking back, it is exposure to a wide range of life situations through all jobs that lay down the basis for my commitment to nature and do people. Leadership requires a spectrum of skills. But most importantly, it is driven by the emotion of commitment and identification. My odd jobs range from colouring in architectural plans, putting up new displays, in short windows, doing door to door surveys on social housing estates to being a member of the very first interpretation team in the National Health Service. I also volunteered and this I say this, I remember the words of a local Councillor in Wales who said, until you are volunteer, you do not really know what it means to be a citizen. It's my relationship with members of the community grew my work as a community artists acquired meaning and began to eclipse the value I placed on my work of a purely aesthetic nature. As much as I continue to love the products of art, the meaning and impact on others became ever more important to me. I wanted more than anything else, to make a difference for the people that I identified with. In traditional Chinese culture, they say one attracts the elements of one's own destiny to oneself. It is simply another way of saying that what one does create some map that brings one ever closer to what one will finally do. For me, it meant I came to abandon the creation of pure art objects in the form of paintings and such. I shifted that from the top of my list and replaced it with I work for nature and for people. At each stage, there were indications of leadership development. However, it was much later that I consciously acquired the overview and skills that enabled me to become an effective voice and take up the mantle of leadership. Above all, I learned that no leader stands alone. All leaders at all levels are equally important to enable societal evolution, as I grew more is due to the circumstances of leadership are also become more aware of the central importance of being able to read the signs of what need changing, seeing clearly the barriers to change, and noting the opportunities. The doors that open sometimes only for little while, that can enable significant change.


So let's look at what all of this means in a time of uncertainty. How can we seek to interpret these crises we're living through the themes, the barriers, and the opportunities for the dishes. comparative analysis is always illuminating. Note that I am looking at these crises in the context of the United Kingdom, with its own history and spectrum of potential. These are extraordinary times, the UK has had this own watershed moment in the context of race, the murder of Steven Lawrence led to the McPherson report. And importantly, the public sector duty to promote race equality came into force in April 2011. This was a potent move at that time, and has made a fundamental difference to race relationships in this country. But we need to do more. With the shock of the death of George Floyd, we see the Black Lives Matter movement, sending a deep wave of emotions through the population, not only nationally, but internationally, unleashing actions to creating a mood of outrage and support for change within our nation and the world. That is a historical moment for transformation, if we take full advantage of it. such moments are not a freak occurrence. There's a tipping point aspect and a weakening. This is based on decades of work by applicants, and the affected communities themselves. Technology, of course, has also shifted the goalposts of awareness. The fact that ordinary citizens can video incidents and bring them to the masses is a phenomenon of social witnessing. That is a feature of the 21st century. Black Lives Matter has first and foremost pointed to the particular the unique sufferings of black communities in the context of slavery and the legacy of colonialism. The vocabulary of racism is now becoming mainstream. People now know terms like microaggressions, and appreciate that impact upon black lives, and others that share this experience. At the present time, the goodwill is evident, we see many websites of statements and gestures of support from a plethora of organisations. But goodwill is never enough. This much work to do to translate goodwill, as an opportunity, a force that needs to be transformed into effective action. This specific demand of the Black Lives Matter movement is that we move beyond gestures of tolerance into structural transformation with measured outcomes. That is now a higher level of motivation than ever before, to come together to act against racism and promote integration. This has moved the agenda of diversity and equality forward as a whole. So there is real light in the darkness. The mood of the nation and of the whole world, even in uncertain times, is urging us all on for everyone. That is the challenge to recognise the continuing legacy of colonial history, exclusion, discrimination, and exploitation on the basis of race. In organisational terms, it's about structurally opening up inclusion, paying attention to equal opportunities for participation and diverse representation in positions of decision making and leadership. In policy terms, the key point is that addressing diversity and equality translates into people centred policy. Climate change is a big issue and a current crisis within the UK holding the presidency for cop 26. Paying attention to climate justice within international negotiations is on the agenda. As shorthand, addressing international issues relating to the legacy of colonialism is about addressing the relationship between the global north and the global south. This is the thing that is close to the heart of multicultural communities in the UK, as it involves their countries of heritage across the world within the app was fear created by Black Lives Matter movement. This is a time that drives all of us to cohesively take action. across all sectors. People centred action necessarily challenges the different sectors to move beyond traditional boundaries to come closer to other sectors. different sectors have very different roles to play with their strings and their own missions, the Human Rights sector, the design sector, the voluntary sector that work so closely with communities on the ground, and the health sector, or have particular roles to play within people centred policy, the arts to have a role to play in putting into place transformative, heart based understanding that fuels motivation. But there's already mentioned, the Human Rights Act, as pinpointed by the UN has a very particular potency is an opportunity to push change forward at this time, because it is an existing legal framework. We have been, and are still experiencing the impact of three parallel crises at the present time, all of them with death staring us in the face, we are being pushed towards the conclusion that we need to act just to stay alive. This circumstance has created a moment of huge opportunity for leadership, as the minds of the population are focused on the necessity for change. Even as we know, we all need to search for the solutions. Alongside Black Lives Matter. There are other relevant emergent factors that impinge on the quality and scope of our actions. Let's look at a few of these COVID-19 to enforce self reflection has given rise to a real discovery of the importance of nature in our lives. as citizens flocked to green spaces within our cities. There is an appreciation among many, that our core happiness essentially depends on our relationship to people and to nature, we have become much more sensitive to our state of health and our food security. In the UK, we are outraged by the hunger of schoolchildren in our relatively rich country. Bloomsbury, the publisher, has interestingly pointed to the fact that in the months from the first lockdown last year to August, that book sales went up 60% in the leading themes, our philosophy, race, and food, we've also learned that we cannot consume all that we want. And then our economic models cannot persist with the same model forever. We've seen parts of it collapse. And importantly, we found that we can adapt and cope COVID has hammered into us that fundamental truth that we are all interconnected people and planet, so that in the forefront of minds, we know that what happens to one part of humanity, and that environment happens to all of us. The current themes of diversity and equality, global interconnectedness, the potential of moving away from materialism, towards a people centred focus on life, are all factors that urge us to turn away from exploitative ways of operating. For me as who I am, this seems aligned with my goal. While for some of you, other themes may leave New, much larger. A notable facet of the reality of the people we call ethnic minorities in our country is that they are the ethnic majority of the world, the white population, so dominant makes up only 11% of the world population, internal to our nation or internationally, we cannot collaborate effectively in switch on the power of full participation. If we continue to discriminate or exploit on the basis of race. integrated solutions that necessarily involve everyone tends towards being justice solutions. The present three parallel crises COVID-19 climate change and Black Lives Matter. All three of them. Multiplying uncertainty has death staring us in the face. The experience of crisis has opened our awareness and sensitivities and positions as will change. Links have been made between the encroachment of nature and the creation of pandemics. statistics tell us that black people are four times more likely to die. science tells us that the resources of the planet is limited. And when the system is broken, moving towards the 1.5 degree limit, with devastate as with the trend of harvest reduction.


We've also seen in the UK that there's never no money, the days of believing in austerity and not doing anything a governmental level, because there is no money are gone. It is painful for everyone to see that when there is no choice and there is political will, there is always money, including borrowing from the future. With this range of awareness, many of us do not want to go back to the way we were. The instinct is to move towards a greener, more equal and happier world. One of the key messages of our time is the reality of Black Lives Matter. And our presence of our present experience of crisis opens our awareness and sensitivities to position us for change. This is a low moment, a mood of the nation and of the world that we can take advantage of. So within this atmosphere that is demanding and driving change, do we resist or do we pay attention, act and lead? Let us now move on to specific actions. Above all, black lives matter? Right The focuses on the importance of structural change, moving beyond gestures of goodwill and tolerance. It demands that policymakers, organisations and individuals play their role in transforming the goodwill for diversity and equality. In an era when in reality, through action, with due attention to the integration of social, cultural, environmental, and economic dimensions, it challenges us all to set a standard, especially a governmental level, to be generous in terms of equal equality of opportunity for all in terms of the core creation of access to enjoyment, and to the benefits of elements that enhance quality of life for vulnerable communities. In terms of releasing the force of contribution by everyone, we need to recognise the value of indigenous wisdom and alternative spiritual ways of lovingly relating to land and people. So that potentially the dominant perspective of how we live may itself be expanded. In the UK 80% of our people now live in urban areas. It is an urbanising multicultural world. Projects like London National Park City, working towards 25 more National Park cities by 2025. With a strip line of greener, healthier, Wilder are significant. Here again, is the theme of diversity and equality through an integrated approach across social, cultural, environmental, and economic themes. Everyone in every organisation by scrutinising the particulars of their own situation can identify innovative actions that have social, cultural, environmental and economic impact. A few months ago, the architects journal wrote about how Enfield Council in London has decided to use a crowd of public sector regeneration money, 6 billion pounds of it to push the architectural community to deliver social value through effective socially and culturally relevant design. Only firms that team up with a 50% black, Asian and minority ethnic led practice, a 50% women led practice and a local outfit from Edmonton was eligible to bid for meridian waters commission to deliver 800 rented council homes at the heart of their master plan. They wish to see the profession recognise the value of lived experience and identification with the neighbouring communities 60% black, Asian and minority ethnic competence compensation. meridian water boss Peter Jones says they cannot afford to ignore a public sector client with increasing demands and expectations regards to equality, diversity and social value.


This way of thinking and operating using the cloud of resources to force change, no doubt emboldened by the impetus of the Black Lives Matter movement is heartening and significant in this context of shaping environments that meet the needs of all our citizens within such masterplans then a set within areas of highly diverse populations. This initiative recognises the need to push design and other professionals to transform their working practice. As part of this key segments of the community that are usually marginalised but be included and consulted. people on the ground are also asserting themselves as engines of change. Singh can do is a new community initiative working closely with Camden Council, which has significant multicultural presence. It ran the first ever citizens assembly and got 17 recommendations from citizens accepted by the local council have many of the recommendations having the twin aspects of benefiting deprived communities and reducing emissions. Such a local initiative provides an arena for growing confidence and Representative individuals that will aspire to join decision making and leadership structures. It can be replicated as a vehicle for enhancing inclusive participation, growing representation and achieving the aims of CO production of socio environmental policy. from developing an overview of issues and opportunities, we usually end up with a list to define how we may formulate the specific role we wish to play as leaders in our own level. Here's a sample list of potential actions to meet the crises of our time, improve the living conditions of vulnerable communities as a basis for equal access to health and well being and able equal access to contact with nature in the most deprived urban areas. Build the prestige of the traditional knowledge and experience of diverse cultures work towards diverse representation in decision making structures, including nurturing emerging leaders, co creation of people centred policy and strategies build equal opportunities for green jobs in the context of green recovery. Invest in creativity and innovation to position us for constantly evolving world workforce environmental justice and climate justice. Use the power of funding criteria to give impetus to design change the consideration of political renewal through a social contract. I will now move on to my final thoughts. As a result of the combined experiences of covered Black Lives Matter and climate change. Will we be bolder in our actions? Despite all our uncertainties, can we afford not to be bolder in order to grasp the future? within the UK, working with racialized minorities is not about doing a favour to small groups of people. It is about a vision of an inclusive society of which we can all be proud. Here an internationally integrated and interconnected solutions will deliver optimism for a better environment and a better world. What I have been talking about focused on the possible agenda arising out of a time of crisis and uncertainty. But we must also Always keep our eye on the ball on other overarching themes are constantly emerging, and also pay attention to our inner world. Life is a meandering river of change, new opportunities reflect where humanity is now, this is the 21st century. And the next most challenging opportunity is going to be given to us by science. Science is unfolding in the direction of offering us the possibility of another kind of world.


Some of us are frightened of this impending technological revolution. It indeed has to be a brave new world, because it will be one in which so many of us will potentially have no jobs. But instead of the frantic lives of emptiness, then many of us now live in the 21st century, we may again have the great privilege of reclaiming time for ourselves again, if we redesign society itself, where culture, leisure, and the richness of simply being alive, will come to the top of the agenda again, artificial intelligence will accelerate research and come up with unbelievable solutions. visions of vertical, mechanical, indoor urban farming, to produce the cheapest food are already with us. robots will take even more drudgery out of industry and daily life. And no one doubts that digital revolution on a grand scale is part of our future reality. That human quality of wisdom will rise up the agenda again COVID has given us an intense self reflection that is enable so many of us to rediscover in isolation, that the most important thing in life is happiness based on right relationship to people, especially those closest to us and to nature, which are in we are instinctively turning to building on this reflective energy can enable us to step further onto the path to the collective wisdom needed for extensive change. Consider one key dimension, a small section of society owns most of technology, resources and wealth as we move towards no jobs. For many, it is a formula that will not work. years ago, we were shocked to be told that 5% of our population owned 50% of our wealth. And then more recently, we were told that 1% owned the equivalent of the assets of 50% of the population. Even the richest people had no choice but to recognise that things have to change, technology, food, everything will have to be shared. We need the societal framework in which each of us will claim live as of right. Everything will be shared, and culture will rise up the agenda. We're not starting from square one. various ideas have been around for a long time coming forward. In the UK, there's already talk of UN universal income in 2019. at the UN World urban forum in Abu Dhabi, coucher was named as a fourth pillar of sustainability. The proposal of a new social contract last week by the UN is as dude taking into account the needs created by the present crisis and the potential and challenge of a technological world future. For many of us in the developed world, in the 20th and 21st century, life has become more bleak. In the face of a science base and evidence, evidence based culture, we may well be pushed back towards the challenge and the attractive possibility of a different balance, where new balance of life and wisdom may again appear at the top of the agenda. I personally believe this transition will give us a time and circumstances to reinvigorate our cultures and live life fully again, a remarkable opportunity lies before us to rebuild the fullness of human relationships to people and to now We all want societal structures within which individuals have the chance to succeed and be rewarded. But to which extent, these issues are moral and structural. The necessity to share has been clearly on the agenda for some time.


Many of us know that we have enough food now to feed everyone in the world. And yet, the West is rampant, with drastic health problems from eating too much, while others in our world stop, the inability to share is grotesque. When I look into a deep heart of the cause of climate change, I see the failure of two fundamental relationships in the context of sustainability, the relationship of people with nature, and the relationship of people to each other. If we love nature deeply enough, we simply cannot damage it the way we do. And we, if we love people enough, we cannot take on any action that damages them. Looking at it in this way, climate change is the result of a moral and spiritual failure of relationship. With COVID-19 part of the framework of society is in collapse at the present time. All situations of collapse is a huge opportunity for substantial societal change. It is a chance for us to not just put things back the way they were, but to think and rebuild differently, moving away from empty economic obsession and consumption. There's talk of a green recovery and the green future, I am all for it. What do you all as potential leaders make of all of this, it will take all of our will, all of our courage, imagination, and skills to formulate one planet living. It is a height of wisdom, to act from the base of love, for nature, and love for people. Love set within wisdom is a vital driving force, an inner resource that can be externalised to influence change, translated into dialogue and action at all levels, from personal lifestyle to policy at the top. I would like to assert that in the 21st century, the success of repositioning ourselves is dependent on love for nature, and love for people at the level of passion. Because there are simply too many apparently urgent life concerns around us now in our modern world, that without passion, that loving an axman in the name of people and nature will not rise to the top of the agenda. here today at this conference, I see a generation of mortal movers and shakers. I look forward to a massive effort for innovative change from this young generation. anchored in a place of passion, of discretion and of strength. Thank you for listening


Such a great message there from Judy, I’m sure you all enjoyed that as much as I did. Judy has recently appeared on BBC4’s Woman’s Hour Power List and has a TedxTalk to check out that we’ll link in the show notes. Tune in next time for the next instalment in FIE’s Student Global Leadership Conference podcast series.