GLWS at the WGS: Part one

by | Feb 21, 2019 | Wellbeing

We were honoured to be invited guests at this year’s annual gathering of the World Government Summit (WGS) held last week in Dubai. There were over 4000 participants, comprising world leaders from public, private and global organisations from over 150 countries.

(Not quite sure how Karen and I made the cut, but I am so grateful we did ?)

Here’s the first in a special series of debriefs from the event.


About the World Government Summit

If (like us) you didn’t know much about the WGS, here’s a quick rundown:

  • It’s an NGO at the intersection of government and innovation.
  • Its purpose is to set the agenda for the next generation of governments, focusing on harnessing innovation and technology to solve universal challenges facing humanity.
  • It functions as a knowledge exchange platform for senior leaders to convene and collaborate with internationally-renowned thinkers and experts to create a positive impact for citizens worldwide.
  • The UAE Government coordinates the event in line with its vision for a future based on heights of excellence in innovation (rather than relying on oil).


The single most important take-out for those of us in the leadership or wellbeing space was:

We are ushering in a new era of responsibility and accountability for happiness & wellbeing – it featured front and centre as a macro concern throughout the entire summit.

This wasn’t tokenism – it was mainstream.

Wellbeing intersected with almost every discussion regardless of whether it was on the economy & society, environment & health, governance & resilience or the progress and ethics in AI, big data and robotics.

How inspiring.


The line-up

Over the coming weeks we’ll be bringing you our accounts of the many ideas, research findings and initiatives that were shared by the astonishing line up of health, wellbeing and leadership experts.

Our first few reports will be takeout messages from:

  • Klaus SchwabFounder and Executive Chairman of the World Economic Forum discussing ‘Globalization 4.0’
  • Tony Robbins Author, peak performance coach and philanthropist doing a speed seminar on ‘The Evolution of Leaders’
  • Arianna HuffingtonFounder, Thrive Global; Professor David ClarkUniversity of Oxford, Chair of Experimental Psychology and Dr Oz sharing ideas on ‘Mitigating the Risk of the Next Global Epidemic’


And all that from only 2 hours of the first day! It just got better and better and we’ll be bringing you more roundups in a special series of WBI reports over the year sharing insights from the other incredible speakers that followed.

Can we just say again how grateful and humbled we were for the opportunity? In GLWS terms, our Intellectual Engagement & Flow was in overdrive!

But before we start to share the lowdown from specific speakers, there is more context setting I think most of you will find interesting.


About the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (and their relevance for you):

The United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) serve as a blueprint for achieving a better and more sustainable future for all.

The SDGs address global existential challenges including those related to poverty, climate and environmental degradation, peace and justice. They also include goals of direct and tangible relevance to those of us in western or developed and wealthy economies who have lives as leaders or influencers in organisations: gender equality, decent work, equal opportunities, discrimination, diversity and inclusion, strong institutions and health and wellbeing.

To give you some example, here’s a small selection of the UN’s targets against some of the goals which we feel might serve many of our organisations well if they were to be adapted for inclusion into our business plans and cascaded KPIs.


Some of the UN’s SDG Targets you might draw inspiration from include:

  • Ensure responsive, inclusive, participatory and representative decision-making at all levels in organisations.
  • Empower and promote the social, economic and political inclusion of all, irrespective of age, sex, disability, race, ethnicity, origin, religion or economic or other status.
  • Ensure women’s full and effective participation and equal opportunities for leadership at all levels of decision making in political, economic and public life.
  • Ensure equal opportunity and reduce inequalities of outcome, including by eliminating discriminatory laws, policies and practices and promoting appropriate legislation, policies and action in this regard.
  • Adopt policies, especially fiscal, wage and social protection policies, and progressively achieve greater equality.
  • Develop effective, accountable and transparent institutions at all levels.
  • Achieve full and productive employment and decent work for all women and men, including for young people and persons with disabilities, and equal pay for work of equal value.
  • Promote development-oriented policies that support productive activities, decent job creation, entrepreneurship, creativity and innovation, and encourage the formalization and growth of micro-, small- and medium-sized enterprises, including through access to financial services.
  • Improve the regulation and monitoring of global financial markets and institutions and strengthen the implementation of such regulations.

At the WGS, stakeholders from across the globe reported on the current status of the SDGs and highlighted innovative means to capture and compare the advancement of their implementation.

Find out more about SDGs from the United Nations website here.


The Global Council for Happiness & Wellbeing

If all this seems a bit too far removed from the focus of your own role and wellbeing, then let me share a real gem of immediate and obvious relevance, which you can download here:

The Global Happiness and Wellbeing’s Policy Report 2019.

Be warned!

…It’s a weighty tomb researched and produced by the Global Council for Happiness and Wellbeing whose distinguished Lead Members include:

  • Professor Jeffrey D. Sachs,
  • Dr Alejandro Adler,
  • Professor Jan-Emmanuel De Neve,
  • Professor Ed Diener,
  • Professor Martin Seligman and
  • Professor Richard Layard.


The quality of thinking that’s gone into its production is exceptional, with collaborative efforts from across several of the world’s leading institutions including the London School of Economics, University of Pennsylvania, University of Oxford and Columbia University.

Whilst the whole thing is a veritable goldmine for those of us in this field, I’d particularly draw your attention to this year’s work chapter, entitled ‘Employee Wellbeing, Productivity & Firm Performance: Evidence and Case Studies’.

In addition to an impressive body of evidence that will surely convince even the most reluctant of organisations of the link between wellbeing and better performance outcomes, there’s some shrewd advice and “how to” lessons for improving happiness in the workplace.

The ultimate conclusion is advice to:

‘Use the broad range of evidence as the basis of clear recommendations for firms to be investing much more in employee wellbeing by targeting social relationships, making jobs more interesting, and enabling employees to achieve a better work/life balance’.

(Sounds a lot like the GLWS Framework to you?  Authentic Relationships; Meaning, Purpose & Direction; Intellectual Engagement & Flow and Balance & Boundaries?)

Coupled with advice to ‘document the effects’ of our endeavours and for leaders of these firms ‘to increase the stock of good practices for themselves and others to follow’, it’s a brilliant roadmap for those developing their workplace wellbeing strategy.

Exciting times ahead for the Global Leadership Wellbeing Survey!

To see our notes from ‘Globalization 4.0’ by Professor Klaus Schwab, the executive chairman of the World Economic Forum, and Tony Robbins on ‘The Evolution of Leaders’, read part two of our WGS wrap-up here.

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