Günther M. Szogs
Secretary of International Advisory Board, Leonardo European Corporate Learning Award
‘Fighting hunger, need, disease and – often forgotten – fighting ignorance are the prerequisites for a life of human dignity all over the world. And the world can be at peace only if it is perceived everywhere to be just. Knowledge empowers, knowledge liberates people.’ H-D. Genscher, in laudatio for Jacques Delors
The Leonardo European Corporate Learning Award has been very fortunate to have started its journey with a most eminent laureate, Professor Jacques Delors, the chairman of UNESCO commission for ‘Education for the 21st century.’ Former German Foreign Minister Hans Dietrich Genscher in his laudatio referred to the commission’s focus on the famous four pillars of learning: learning to know, learning to do, learning to live together, learning to be – characterising them in the words quoted above. In those words, themselves knowledge empowerment is alive, carrying judgment and wisdom. Urging us to take the Delors’ report as compulsory reading for decision-makers and to prioritize fighting ignorance Genscher well understood that learning and knowledge is not just ‘qualification.’ Knowledge is liberating people if used for mutual understanding and thus serves as navigator for social improvement. We coined ‘fighting ignorance’ in analogy to the subprime crisis: ‘combat subprime knowledge.’
This demands partnership, informed action but also enthusiasm and passion. We are honoured to cooperate in this spirit with UNESCO UNEVOC who link their emphasis on interplay of corporate and civil learning with COP21 climate goals and the SDGs. The initiators of this prestigious and timely conference on Agenda Knowledge for Development are long-term pioneers in ensuring empowerment through knowledge – not leaving it a playground for just sophisticated words. Having strong bonds to them in our advisory board and our common partnership with the New Club of Paris, we wholeheartedly wish them well for this event. We sincerely hope it bears fruits of insights to better find ways to overcome the current threats not just to our civil lives but also our minds. May we altogether help rediscover the power of dialectical thought that allows synthesis rather than just ‘likes’ and ‘shit storm’ to reinforce civil skills of trust, confidence and respect. Thus, we unleash the true potential of learning and knowledge regardless of whether we live it in our corporate environment or in our communities.