Category: Systemic Stories

Leaders’ Quest, Reos Partners, Climate Champions Team, and TED Countdown launch the Radical Climate Collaboration Initiative

Leaders’ Quest, Reos Partners, Climate Champions Team, and TED Countdown launch the Radical Climate Collaboration Initiative

Reos Partners, the social impact company bringing transformational change to complex societal issues, announces that it’s joined forces with the Climate Champions Team, TED Countdown, and Leaders’ Quest to launch the Radical Climate Collaboration initiative to accelerate climate action.

The global climate movement is an unprecedented collective response to an unprecedented global challenge. As the global impacts of climate change are becoming more clear and severe, the need to effectively collaborate with diverse others is imperative.

Reos Partners, the social impact company bringing transformational change to complex societal issues, has partnered with the Climate Champions Team, a global team of experts supporting the UN Climate Change High-Level Champions to drive collaborative climate action, TED Countdown, and Leaders’ Quest to launch the Radical Climate Collaboration initiative to support the movement towards net zero. 

The initiative’s first endeavor brought together 100 experienced climate practitioners from around the world to summarize their guidance in the forthcoming Radical Collaboration to Accelerate Climate Action: A Guidebook for Working Together with Speed, Scale, and Justice. The guidebook is designed to help people and organizations from diverse backgrounds, sectors, and scales, collaborate more effectively. It defines seven practices which, taken together, have the potential to generate a cooperative effort leading to fast, big, and fair results. The guidebook is available at

“People around the world are stepping forward to take climate action. Some of these collaborations are producing extraordinary results, but in aggregate they are not yet big or fast enough to achieve the economic and societal transformations necessary for a safe and just future,” says Adam Kahane, Director at Reos Partners.

“Making progress on climate mitigation, adaptation, and restoration requires many stakeholders to work together across deep differences. This is the reason for the Radical Climate Collaboration initiative. Radical collaboration is a pragmatic and proven approach to working together to move forward with speed, scale, and justice,” he adds.

Nigel Topping, UN Climate Change High-Level Champion for the UK, COP26 says, “We need a collaborative shift across all of society towards a decarbonized economy so that we can all thrive in a healthy, resilient and zero carbon world. The Radical Climate Collaboration Initiative will enable us to achieve the collective action needed for successful climate action.”

“Climate change has led our planet to a perilous position, requiring urgent action. It’s a complex issue needing collaboration, innovation, and rapid action in order to make meaningful progress,” said Lindsay Levin, incoming Head of Impact and Partnerships at TED and co-founder of TED Countdown. “By providing practical resources, on-the-ground workshops, and a global network for sharing, learning and collaboration, our goal as the Radical Climate Collaboration Initiative can build the capacity to move toward a net zero world.”

Carbon credits should be one of our best tools to fight climate change — if we use them right

Carbon credits should be one of our best tools to fight climate change — if we use them right

The market for carbon offsets is booming, and a series of efforts have sprung up to define rules and standards that will tackle their often dodgy reputation. Global agreement on those rules is crucial to achieving a net-zero future and essential to helping avert the looming climate catastrophe.

In an Op-Ed for TIME Ideas, TED Global Curator and TED Countdown co-founder Bruno Giussani and Gabrielle Walker, founder of the climate consultancy Valence Solutions, highlight how carbon markets can bring about meaningful climate action.

Read the full article.

What is Regenerative?

What is Regenerative?

Each of us has a vital role to play in ensuring society can thrive at every level.

But what if each of us could actively engage in behaviors that put life at the center of everything – where individuals only contribute to activities that have a positive effect on the patterns and systems of which they are a part?

In this video, we explain what Regenerative means, and the steps we can take toward leaving things even better than we found them.

For more information on Three Horizons, visit and download our 10 Tools for Systems Change.

Three Horizons: the three voices

Three Horizons: the three voices

In any conversation about the future, you’ll probably notice three voices showing up: the manager, who is responsible for the success of the current system and keeping things going as they are; the visionary who speaks for a radically different world; and the entrepreneur who is impatient with all the talk and just wants to put new ideas into action right now.

We call these the voices of the Three Horizons.

In this video, we explain how to recognize these voices and see the value each one brings, and how they might work together to navigate conversations about the future.

For more information on Three Horizons, visit and download our 10 Tools for Systems Change.

Three Horizons: an introduction

Three Horizons: an introduction

Three Horizons (3H) is a simple framework to help guide conversations about the future towards meaningful action.

The framework acts like a map, helping us work out where we are, where we want to be, and how to get there.

It charts Horizon 1, the dominant way things are done today that show signs of strain and lack of fit to the future; Horizon 3, our visions for how we want things to be in the future; and Horizon 2, the innovations we can establish to help make our desired future a reality. This introductory video explains Three Horizons using the food system as an example but you can apply this framework to any topic of concern.

For more information on Three Horizons, visit and download our 10 Tools for Systems Change.

Virtual visit to Beijing: Greening the Belt & Road Initiative

Virtual visit to Beijing: Greening the Belt & Road Initiative

China’s game-changing “Traffic Light System” color codes overseas investments based on impacts to climate, environment, and biodiversity.

Earlier this year, China pulled out of coal projects in Bangladesh and Zimbabwe, and President Xi Jinping just announced that China will no longer build new coal-fired power projects abroad — what other impacts might this system have, and how might it be used to help “green” the Belt and Road Initiative?

During a sessions titled “Virtual visit to Beijing: Greening the Belt & Road Initiative” at Countdown in Edinburgh, Scotland, Chatham House Research Director Bernice Lee orchestrated the only discussion between Mainland China and Hong Kong, as speakers and guest commentators deepened appreciation for ways China can be a catalyst for other global powers to strive for and even compete in becoming carbon neutral.

The conversation on the Traffic Light System began with remarks from Dimitri de Boer (Head of ClientEarth China) and explored factors for implementation, such as direct and indirect policies of the Chinese state, and resulting prospects for environmental sustainability among Belt and Road countries. With enforcement now at the forefront of the global conversation, China’s state-owned enterprises have taken immediate actions to follow through on the new guidelines.

Following remarks from Ma Jun (Director at the Institute of Public Affairs), Lee facilitated a discussion on the transparency of publicly disclosed information about the environment. Such transparency engages the public and allows NGOs to monitor local governments’ and corporations’ enforcement of laws to meet climate commitments. As such, IPE’s Blue Map Database has proven an effective tool in tracking and stopping polluters.

The session closed with comments from expert guests, inviting the voices of those joining virtually from Mainland China and Hong Kong. Guests felt optimistic that the Traffic Light System would help catalyze countries to compete in green initiatives globally. At the same time, the phaseout of coal projects abroad actively engages BRI countries in deciding how to green their own domestic policies.

After hearing from experts on the ground, participants left with a more nuanced understanding of the Belt & Road Initiative – one less highlighted in global media. The hybrid model connected global leaders gathered in Edinburgh, Scotland with experts around the world in dialogue about the promising prospects for a green Belt and Road.

LQ Partner Kenzie Kenzie Lau-Kwong provides additional commentary on the “Traffic Light System”

The week of October 11 was auspicious as it’s also the week of the 15th Conference of the Parties (COP15) to the UN Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), which was being held in Kunming, China. Therefore, several interested leaders and experts, such as those from Belt and Road Initiative International Green Development Coalition (BRIGC)Foreign Environmental Cooperation Centre in the Ministry of Ecology and Environment (MEE), and People’s Bank of China, could not attend our BRI session. 

However, through communications with multiple individuals in these organizations and with the speakers, I gained a broader understanding of their work’s intricacies in devising principles and executing the country’s greening policies; in turn, they get to know who Leaders’ Quest is and our purpose and vision.

I now appreciate much more their long-term thinking, meticulous planning, and hard work in ironing out conflicts behind the “traffic light system”. In fact, these soft laws are an effective, powerful strategy that connects, catalyzes, and steer state-owned enterprises, foreign direct investments, and organizations towards green development domestically and along BRI. China’s pledge of not building any new coal-fired power projects abroad is one of the many strategies in the works. 

Prep discussions with Dimitri, Ma Jun, Emmanuel offered one insightful conversation after another. Exciting and uplifting, though a bit sad that many of these positive and effective actions are hardly reported outside of China. 

Dimitri’s work is low profile but very effective – the proof in the pudding is the trust ministry officials rest in him. I’ve known Ma Jun for over 10 years. His work is a strong testimonial of the power of public engagement supported with facts and not force, which gain trust and open doors to work with the government, commercial entities, and communities. 

Emmanuel was President of East African Court of Justice before becoming Minister of Justice for Rwanda. His experience gave him the confidence to be particularly applauding soft laws because cases could be referenced, interpreted, and give public pressure, especially for companies to act. As an advisor to ClientEarth and having worked closely with Dimitri on China’s greening development, Emmanuel’s understanding is grounded in direct experience and facts. He described the ‘traffic light system’ beautifully – it’s like the stars; we cannot touch them, but they show the way.

Leaders’ Quest, Future Stewards, join Regen10 to transform agricultural systems, regeneratively produce 50% of food worldwide

Leaders’ Quest, Future Stewards, join Regen10 to transform agricultural systems, regeneratively produce 50% of food worldwide

Regen10 is an ambitious collective action plan to scale regenerative food production systems, worldwide, in a decade.

The initiative will put farmers at the heart of a global effort to transform agricultural systems, so that by 2030, over 50% of the world’s food can be produced in a way that drives positive outcomes for people, for nature, and for climate.

Regen10 will drive alignment and convergence of existing food and farming sector initiatives, and scale-up collective action, by bringing together farmers, along with businesses, investors, NGOs, and policymakers to accelerate system change. Through its interventions, Regen10 will play a key role in strengthening the agriculture and food systems’ contributions to the Paris Agreement, while halting and reversing nature loss, building resilience, and enabling farmers to earn decent incomes for the vital role they play as stewards of the land.

A broad alliance has come together to deliver the initiative, including: World Farmers Organisation, Eastern Africa Farmers Federation, Food & Land Use Coalition, World Bank Group, World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD), International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), SYSTEMIQ, IMAGINE, We Mean Business Coalition, Future Stewards, OP2B, Sustainable Food Trust (Global Farm Metric), and Club of Rome. Many more organisations and companies have expressed their support for the initiative and will be actively involved in delivering its 2030 ambition.

Delivering interventions that matter.  Regen10 will work in partnership with a wide range of food system stakeholders to drive action in 3 areas that together can unlock system tipping points by 2025 and enable widespread scaling of regenerative systems by 2030.

  1. Enable a global farmer community. We will support and enable a global community of farmer leaders and farming organisations to shape the transition, working closely with this community to design policy, finance and enabling interventions that work for farmers, ensuring they are able to confidently, and profitably, scale regenerative production methods.
  2. Establish harmonised definitions, outcomes, and metrics. We will drive convergence and alignment on definitions, outcomes, metrics, and farm level data to unlock transformative policy and finance, to establish the measurement backbone for accelerated transition and to lay the foundation for a new farm economic model. 
  3. Develop and enable pathways to regenerative food systems. We will work in partnership with a wide number of organisations to catalyse and facilitate the redesign of value chains for high impact food products in key growing regions. We will establish economic transition pathways and proof points of regenerative systems in multiple landscapes, from which we can draw inspiration and learning as we scale.

In the next 6 months, Regen10 will mobilise the global farmer community and engage stakeholders across the food system to design a first wave of interventions that will be delivered by UNFCCC COP27.  By 2030, Regen10 aims to have played a catalytic role in enabling:

  • — Over 50% of world’s food to be produced in a way that drives regenerative outcomes.
  • — Over 50% of the world’s agricultural land to be farmed in a way that reverses nature loss and supports decarbonisation in line the Paris Climate Agreement.
  • — Over 500m farmers to apply regenerative production methods, receiving a fair income for the outcomes they deliver.
  • — Over $60bn per year to be deployed to finance the transition.

Regen10 is an ambitious, open, and inclusive initiative in which we all have a role to play.  We invite you us in a global collective effort to build food systems that can sustain us for generations to come.

The head and the heart of radical leadership

The head and the heart of radical leadership

Leaders’ Quest Founder and CEO, Lindsay Levin, was the guest speaker at the acclaimed podcast series: Outrage!+Optimism

Featured alongside alongside South African activist Kumi Naidoo, Lindsay discusses the kind of leadership needed to make a difference in the world.

Leading through uncertainty: Making conscious choices

Leading through uncertainty: Making conscious choices

I love to wake before dawn. With a cup of warm tea in my hand, I sit and watch the night turn into day. I relish these quiet moments before my family rises, when the world outside is still silent. My phone too is silent and out of reach, invisible to me though it is bursting with content and desperate for my attention. I choose a slower start that allows me to step consciously and softly into the new day without being swept away by events that can sometimes feel out of my control. In this time of coronavirus, it’s especially true.

A few days ago, my husband entered the room, phone in hand, as the sun was rising. He read the notification: “Stock market plunges. Gun sales surge.” My stomach lurched as his words collided with the stillness of my morning. My mind shifted into high gear, as my thoughts churned: People are terrified; they are buying guns to protect themselves. People will turn on each other in this crisis; they will resort to violence to defend their families. There will be mass panic. We are doomed.

In the face of fear and uncertainty, how easily I latched onto that narrative. I was hijacked – body, mind and spirit. How did that happen? The stress of the current moment took me down a path I would not have chosen.

The situation we find ourselves in today is steeped in uncertainty. We have had to implement sudden changes to our lives, and we have no clear sense of when — or even, if — life will return to normal. And what will the new normal look like?

It’s natural to feel anxious at a time like this. What matters is how we process the situation, and the decisions we make. Does our anxiety take us down a path where we believe we need guns to protect our loved ones from a world that’s out of control? Or can we make a more conscious choice?

At this moment of crisis, we have an opportunity to create the kind of community we want to be part of. For example, we could respond by reaching out to family members or picking up groceries for neighbors. In our work lives, we could talk to our team members, listen and support them, or have those career conversations that we’ve been putting off for so long. Maybe you always wanted to try yoga or improve your mile time, read a book or even write one. This could be the time!

In any given moment, we can choose what is important and where to invest our attention and energy, knowing that our choices, combined, will have real impact.

I am reminded of the Cherokee legend about the two wolves:

An old Cherokee is teaching his grandson about life. “A fight is going on inside me,” he said to the boy. “It is a terrible fight and it is between two wolves. One is evil – he is anger, envy, sorrow, regret, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego. The other is good – he is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith. The same fight is going on inside you – and inside every other person, too.”

The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather, “Which wolf will win?”

The old Cherokee simply replied, “The one you feed.”

We are far from powerless. We may not have chosen the coronavirus, but there are so many things we can choose. They could be small things like how we structure our day, how often we check our phones or read the news. They could be bigger things, like the kind of leader we want to be, our values, how we think about the purpose of our organisations, how we connect and listen to people around us.

All of these choices will determine the quality of our lives on the other side of this crisis. We can be stronger and more connected as individuals, families, communities, teams and societies, or we can keep our heads down and let the days go by until this is over.

Take a moment now to reflect. What are you feeling? How can you use this time to make conscious changes? Have you latched on to a narrative that is keeping you stuck or disempowered? Are you perhaps acting defensively, feeling frustrated or disillusioned? Can you be better served by openness, hope and kindness?

In any moment we can choose how we respond and how we show up to lead. We all have the chance to shape a better tomorrow.

In this difficult period, running ever faster is no longer enough. Leaders’ Quest equips leaders with the capabilities to thrive in uncertain and disrupted times. 

Best Self Leadership in-person and online workshops equip leaders and teams to:

  • Hone their values and mindset to steer themselves and their organisation effectively.
  • Learn how to show up differently and unlock potential in others.
  • Harvest empathy and trust – break silos, work collaboratively and effectively navigate complexity.

To find out more, email us at

This blog is part of a series on leading through uncertainty.

Part I: Leading self

How can companies serve all of their stakeholders?  Four key takeaways…

How can companies serve all of their stakeholders? Four key takeaways…

Sayo Ayodele, a Leaders’ Quest Partner, has learned some key lessons about serving all stakeholders. It’s all about listening, strong values and joining forces with like-minded leaders.

In August 2019, the Business Roundtable – a business lobby group that represents some of the world’s most influential companies – put out a public statement declaring that the purpose of business is to create value for all stakeholders.

This represents a significant departure from the past 50 years – during which shareholders and profit were the primary (if not only) concern for business. 

Yet there is widespread scepticism about whether this announcement is just rhetoric. Do these companies truly intend to evolve their businesses to be of service to all stakeholders?

A new zeitgeist

Their announcement speaks to a changing zeitgeist. Businesses feel a need to – at the very least –pay lip service to the fact that they are thoughtful about their role in society. This demand comes from:

  • Consumers – who are increasingly putting their money towards brands and companies that represent their values.
  • Investors – who are increasingly evaluating their investments by environmental, social and governance criteria.
  • Employees who are demanding more of their employers.

Data shows that younger generations want to work in organisations that represent their values. Businesses also know that they aren’t isolated from the global challenges that we face. Some recognise that issues like climate change represent a threat to their supply chain. Some have acted to pre-empt regulatory action that might ensue, as political tides shift in light of social and economic problems.

A majority of leaders want to build more purposeful companies

Whatever the rationale, I applaud the decision and the announcement. My personal experience – after a decade spent working with senior leaders of some of the world’s largest companies – is that a significant majority wants to build more purposeful organisations. But what does this really mean and – in the words of the Business Roundtable – how does a company go about “serving all stakeholders”?

In 2016, Leaders’ Quest collaborated with Meteos to ask this question of the UK’s financial system. This joint project – called BankingFutures – explored how to build a healthier, more resilient, and inclusive financial sector. To do this, we created a multi-stakeholder group to bring diverse perspectives into the conversation. This group included leading bankers, investors, regulators and civil society, who came together for a multi-year conversation about the nature of the change required.

This is what I learned.

Serving stakeholders starts with listening

To serve all stakeholders, you need to really hear what they are saying. As part of the BankingFutures project, we listened hard to all stakeholders of the UK’s financial system.

We heard employees tell us what it meant to them, to work in a sector that they believe adds real value to society (and whose impact could be even greater). We spoke to investors who were exploring ways to navigate the changing nature of risk. We spoke to regulators grappling with the question of encouraging investment while still safeguarding consumers. We listened to individuals who’d been made homeless by the financial crisis. 

At the end of it, we came away better informed about these perspectives and better equipped to make sensible recommendations about building a healthier and more resilient financial sector.

Embracing complexity and navigating through dilemmas

For companies exploring how to become more purposeful, there are some simple, quick wins (such as paying and treating employees and suppliers fairly). But often the questions and solutions are more nuanced. For example, evidence tells us that we need to take urgent action on the environment and that business has a huge role to play. Yet who speaks on behalf of the environment and society?

To become a purposeful organisation that’s taking action on the environment, a business may decide to double down on its recycling policy or encourage its employees to cycle to work. This is important. But all the evidence shows that businesses should align their environmental action or policy with science-based targets (carbon emissions targets aligned with a 1.5-degree pathway.)

Without this, their strategy, while important symbolically, may not be particularly meaningful. Ongoing conversations – with stakeholders and experts – are crucial to ensure clarity on what it means to serve a variety of audiences. It’s also vital to be part of a dynamic network or coalition – such as We Mean Business – who can help businesses understand what consequential action on climate change really looks like.

Recognise that purpose is a journey, not a destination

Just as business models need to evolve to reflect changing consumer demand, so purpose must evolve to reflect changing business models, and evolving social and environmental needs. Joining up with a network of experts can help business focus on immediate action – and figure out when a longer lead time ensures a dynamic, thoughtful approach can be developed.

Bold action requires courageous leadership and systemic change

Today, when public and governmental scrutiny is intense, it’s not easy for business leaders to take action. Getting investors and boards on-side isn’t always easy. Bold action requires courageous leadership that is willing to be ambitious, to listen, to welcome feedback, and adapt as society changes.

Business as usual? Or collective progress?

Companies, consumers, investors, employees and industry groups are all part of an entrenched system of ‘business as usual’. This means companies often have little incentive to make relevant changes to their approach or business. In short, there’s a significant risk with little guarantee of reward. By comparison, coalitions that include businesses, investors and consumers – all intent on making collective progress – can trigger a race to the top.  

This blog post originally appeared on (18 September 2019).  Photos: Viktor Forgacs and Anastasia Zhenin