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Towards Sustainable Transformation. Rethinking the Generational Contract for a Better Future (Voices of the Leaders of Tomorrow 2023)

Suggested Citation

Buder, F., Hesel, N., & Dietrich, H. (2023). Voices of the Leaders of Tomorrow: Toward Sustainable Transformation – Rethinking the Generational Contract for a Better Future. Nuremberg Institute for Market Decisions & St. Gallen Symposium.



St. Gallen Symposium
Publication title
Towards Sustainable Transformation
Voices of the Leaders of Tomorrow

Towards Sustainable Transformation

Rethinking the Generational Contract for a Better Future

The world is currently facing an acceleration of long-term challenges that will shape the world for future generations, most notably the increasingly apparent climate crisis and its consequences such as biodiversity loss and extreme weather phenomena. The latest report on climate change by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the United Nations’ body for assessing the science behind climate change, warns that human activity has already caused irreversible and catastrophic climate change. To limit further damage to the planet, the world needs to rapidly and significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions and commit to a deep and lasting transformation toward a sustainable future.

For a successful transformation toward a more sustainable future, all generations must work together. As early as 1987, the United Nations Brundtland Commission defined sustainable development as “development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.”

For some time now, we have assumed that basic intergenerational solidarity is a given. One of the responsibilities of the older generations was that they would pass on to the young generations a world that was not worse than the one they inherited – an objective that seems especially challenging in the face of today’s environmental, economic, and social crises.

This year’s Voices of the Leaders of Tomorrow Report shines a light on the challenges and opportunities of current inter- und intragenerational dynamics in the context of the sustainability debate. To help bridge divides and inform and inspire discourse and leadership in this time of great uncertainty, our study brings together the voices of both the Leaders of Tomorrow from the St. Gallen Symposium network and the Leaders of Today, senior executives who are 50 years or older from large corporations.

This report aims to analyze the tensions between and among generations of leaders when it comes to the big sustainability questions of our time: What is hindering progress toward a sustainable future, and what could be the common ground for intergenerational cooperation? Understanding these tensions will help to build a foundation for today‘s managers and policymakers to address these challenges and, by doing so, to start building a sustainable future for all generations to come.


  • NIM
  • St. Gallen Symposium


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