The Governor General's Canadian Leadership Conference


Theme: Leadership and Sustainable Communities

Community is a word with which we are all familiar. We live in communities where we live, work, learn, worship and play. We also belong to communities based on culture, language, ethnic background, religion, profession, special interests and aspirations. Increasingly we view our favorite social networking sites as extensions of our physical communities.

The traditional concept of community or “communitas”– which asserts a set of common interests that binds people together - has not changed in more than 2,000 years. What has changed, however, is the world in which our communities exist.

Leaders today face multiple challenges to the sustainability of our communities – economic, environmental, social and cultural.

Sustainability is the capacity to endure, as Wikipedia notes: “In ecology, the word describes how biological systems remain diverse and productive over time... For humans, sustainability is the potential for long-term maintenance of well being, which has environmental, economic, and social dimensions.” And, indeed, moral dimensions as well.

Sustainability and community were prominently linked by the Brundtland Commission of the United Nations in its historic 1987 report, which defined sustainable development as development that meets the needs of present communities without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.

Sustainable communities require effective leaders. Today’s leaders must have the capacity to think and project beyond the front lines of their own organizations in order to understand, engage and motivate the people they lead and the communities in which they function. Leaders must have a capacity to find shared values and common ground that extend not just to the current generation, but to future generations as well.

The 2012 Governor General’s Canadian Leadership Conference will examine the role that leaders play in building prosperous, healthy and sustainable communities. Conference members will experience communities that are embracing a positive and optimistic vision of their future. They will experience situations where leadership is required to help move communities forward on unfamiliar ground. They will see first-hand how leaders determine outcomes.

The Conference will challenge participants to explore attitudes, actions and engagement on a range of issues and experiences from local and national perspectives, including:

  • The economic, social and environmental dimensions of sustainability from the practical perspective of Canadian individuals and communities;

  • Areas of commonality and difference on sustainability among Canadians of different regions, cultures and demographic groups;

  • Examples of Canadian communities that have endured challenges to their sustainability and have examples of exemplary leadership that have made this happen;

  • How new Canadians interpret sustainable communities from the perspective of their own cultural identity within the broader Canadian identity;

  • The impact of global economic change and international trade on sustainable communities;

  • The vital role of voluntarism and personal engagement in sustainable communities, and the leadership that shapes such engagement;

  • How qualities of leadership help determine the capacity of communities to sustain their futures;

  • The common threads running through our communities that determine our values and define us as Canadians;

  • How and why effective leadership matters more than ever.

Throughout the Conference, members will meet with Canadians from all walks of life who are dedicated to helping individuals engage in common enterprise and build sustainable communities. The links between sustainable communities, the national perspective and Canada’s place in the global community will underpin this examination.

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The Conference is funded entirely by donations from organizations and individuals who support the development of skilled Canadian leadership.

2012 Members

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Access to additional resources for conference Alumni.