The day after I was born, my grandfather wrote me a letter welcoming me as a new citizen of the world. “You will need courage and optimism,” he wrote, “to tackle the many challenges that you will face in your lifetime – courage to dream, to use your talents to explore new ways of solving challenges; and optimism that together, we will find solutions that everyone can benefit from.”
So what does it mean to be a world citizen in these times, in a world that is in a state of fragility, with climate change, trade tensions, geo-political unrest, uncertain prospects for the global economy, and the list goes on? For me, it means looking through a long-term lens and taking responsibility, both individually and collectively, to make a positive impact on the health of the planet and of its inhabitants.
For a start, I strongly believe that the solution to the vast majority of the world’s challenges resides in people, or human capital. With the right, sustained investments in education, training and health, it should be possible to realize the full potential of a productive, more inclusive and healthier society.
In my home country of the Netherlands, I’m applying these insights through NL2025 – a collaboration platform set up by leaders from the business, cultural and sports worlds, to work together with the aim of shaping a better future.
Read more at WEF