Leadership is tested in times of crisis when it is most needed. In the midst of mounting and invariably complex crises - from natural to man-made disasters - a lack of leadership can result in uncoordinated, unstrategic and even ineffectual responses that undermine local authorities, economies and social structures. Evidence from recent international interventions demonstrates that it is the type of leadership that matters most and crucially that recovery processes require inclusive, adaptive leadership and governance to affect meaningful change.
Representatives of UN agencies and leading international NGOs gathered in London on the 8th July at the Overseas Development Institute to launch a new international collaborative centre in post crisis leadership and development hosted by the Universities of Canberra and York. The purpose of the Centre is to investigate the forms of governance and leadership that best facilitate the shift from crisis to recovery to development. The Centre is already providing applied research and leadership development to underpin recovery efforts around the world in countries such as Afghanistan, Madagascar, Somalia, the Sudan, Iraq and Vietnam.
A panel of humanitarian experts including Clare Messina, the Senior Coordinator of Humanitarian Leadership at the United Nations, Sara Pantuliano, Head of the Humanitarian Policy Group at the ODI and Benedict Dempsey, Director of Humanitarian Affairs for Save the Children, welcomed the new Centre. As Dempsey observed, 'Traditional models of leadership simply don't work in these contexts and we need to find new ways of working to give these societies the best chance of recovery'.
The new Centre brings together the academic and applied knowledge of the leading centre for post-war recovery studies in Europe (the PRDU) and ANZSIG which is quickly developing into Australia's premier institution for the study and practice of governance. As PRDU Director Professor Sultan observes, "They bring leading international expertise in soft governance and the PRDU brings skills in the hard governance of reconstruction and recovery. It is a perfect marriage".
The launch was facilitated by leading international humanitarian Baroness Haleh Afshar OBE who also hosted a reception at the House of Lords. Afshar observed in closing, "What I like about this work is that it recognizes that these communities can only be effectively supported if they are driving the process of change. Leadership that makes this happen has be the way forward".