The Millennium Development Goals and even more the Agenda 2030 re-emphasised how interrelated and intertwined social, environmental and economic challenges are. However, most development approaches are elaborated and implemented in sectoral and organisational silos. The way we respond to humanity’s challenges does not match the complexity and dynamics of today’s fast changing world.

The Global Leadership Academy (GLAC) was established against this background in 2012 commissioned by the Germany Ministry for Ecomonic Cooperation and Development and implemented in the framework of the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH. It aimed at creating spaces that enable a collective search for new approaches and initiatives, cross cutting regional and professional silos. This involves personal and collective development, listening and strengthening mutual understanding, as well as building new trustful partnerships. In this spirit, GLAC is deeply dedicated to SDG 17: Partnerships for the Goals.

A programme offering innovative formats for change

The Global Leadership Academy’s interdisciplinary and practice-oriented dialogue spaces aim at improving the innovation capacity and leadership skills of decision-makers and change agents from the fields of policy-making, business, education and research as well as civil society. Since 2012 sixteen Leadership and Innovation Labs have been implemented in collaboration with a broad range of international partners. They provide enabling spaces for global change makers, who might otherwise never have entered into dialogue with each other. The specific problems and challenges brought into the space by the participants are at the heart of the dialogues rather than employing ready-made concepts.

The participants of the dialogues, bring together diverse expertise and explore one another’s perspectives to find answers to today’s complex development challenges. They expose themselves to experimental formats to understand the complexity, build trustful cooperation and co-create new approaches and solutions. The network of change-makers that emerges in the process energises them to take the next step and bring change to a higher level.

A Global Community

2018 was a turning point for us to realize the full potential of this network. Six years had passed and yet many of the participants of the thematic labs were still in touch, sharing their success and sorrow in same measure. Above all, a network analysis revealed the strong desire to go beyond the “lab families” and build cross-linkages to participants from various other labs. The vision of building a global community of action emerged and GLAC’s focus shifted towards strengthening the ties of this community of change makers as a driver of systemic change and sustainable development.

The GLAC community builds upon the participants of all Leadership and Innovation Labs, the Transformation Thinkers Network and the Global Diplomacy Lab. We currently count more than 700 individuals from all spheres of life in over 120 countries.


By participating in the Global Leadership Academy’s dialogue processes, drivers of change across the globe embrace the diverse possibilities to shape politics, business, academia and civil society. They see their responsibilities in a new light, take action to a higher level and achieve change.


The Global Leadership Academy brings together individuals in positions of responsibility from countries around the globe who have an interest in transformation. By participating in dialogue, they expand their leadership skills, break with conventional patterns and unlock new opportunities for shaping change in their field of action.

The Global Leadership Academy supports change agents in taking a dynamic approach to exercising responsibility within their sphere of influence. High-ranking participants from the worlds of politics, business, academia, and civil society engage in in-depth dialogue on their own change issues and put projects into practice. The Global Leadership Academy’s dialogue processes provide the necessary impetus for accomplishing this.

A broad impact can only be achieved if the frames of reference behind the individuals change: it is essential that the change processes extend to the organisations and communities concerned.

The dialogue processes take place in an atmosphere of equality and mutual respect. Participants can explore different interests constructively across national and sectoral borders and social strata, seeing the world through other people's eyes. The Global Leadership Academy’s activities promote creative exchange and cross-sectoral thinking.

The offerings of the Global Leadership Academy help both the participants and GIZ to develop new perspectives for global change processes and to learn from innovation. The global community of the GLAC makes use of the services to jointly learn taking innovative approaches to solve global challenges.

Theory of Change

The aspiration behind our work is to contribute to more sustainable, inclusive and just societies. In order to make room for new ways to shape the future and achieve sustainable change, we need to break with conventional patterns and create new paradigms – for ourselves and collectively. We believe that real systemic and organisational change can only occur hand in hand with personal transformation.

The Global Leadership Academy recognises that leadership and organisational culture and processes are closely intertwined and that the personal development of change agents is therefore key to initiating systemic change.

In all of our formats and action, the elements Dialogue, Leadership and Innovation complement one another. Interlinked, they serve to provide the basis for generating sustainable changes on personal, organisational and systemic levels.

The Global Leadership Academy is funded by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) and implemented by the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH.