Maryam Forum Co-Labs


Overview of the Co-Labs

The Maryam Forum: Charting a path from rulership to leadership

The Maryam Forum is a multi-year programme aimed at accelerating the development of transformative leadership grounded in research, and exercised by leaders representing, and accountable to, the full breadth of our global communities. 

Co-Labs: a challenge-driven coalition of partners

Key to delivering on the Forum’s ambition is a series of ‘Maryam Co-Labs’ that we are launching in September. These year-round working groups will develop and seek to implement innovative research-based policy solutions to support the transition from rulership to leadership on six global challenges critical to achieving the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.  To foster a better leadership ecosystem, the Co-Labs will each comprise a coalition of representatives of the Forum’s different partner groups and will operate in a meritocratic, inclusive, and accountable fashion.  

While there has been increasing alignment towards the 2030 Agenda, notably by private sector players and investors, progress has been too slow, and in many cases reversed by the COVID-19 crisis. Indeed, the pandemic has laid bare the fragility of development that does not also fully address sustainability and inequalities; both people and planet must be at the heart of efforts to build back stronger more resilient economies.  The crisis has also further highlighted the need for reinforced global cooperation.  By unlocking the power of collaboration across diverse perspectives, disciplines and institutions, the Maryam Co-Labs aim to co-create the most effective strategies and approaches that leaders might deploy to address global problems. Our approach to collaboration will also include futures thinking and methods – this means our work will be grounded in a shared vision of the future, striking a balance between short-term goals that support the emergence of, and long-term goals that can only be unlocked by, transformative leadership.

Membership of each Co-Lab will be composed of 15-20 members, balanced across sectors.  Members will include participants from all developed and emerging regions, characterised by diversity of gender, ethnicity, and socio-economic background.  The Co-Labs will be supported by deep engagement with LSE students and faculty, with students from LSE’s school of Public Policy playing a key role throughout – including by conducting research.  As content partner, Kite Insights will support Maryam Forum in setting up and managing the Co-Labs, and translating outputs for different audiences. Working closely with media and communications teams will help us to amplify our collective voice and impact.

Engaging with the Co-Lab

Each Co-Lab will organise virtual workshops and events in which all members will be invited to collaborate and contribute their expertise and individual perspectives.  The workshops will provisionally include:

●        A launch meeting to agree upon short-term priorities for the Co-Lab and to agree on the organisation of work (late Sep/October).

●        A second meeting to discuss outputs for the December conference (November).

●        The Maryam Forum global annual conference in December.

●        A follow-up meeting on implementation in specific contexts and on design of next year’s agenda (January).

Channels will be created for ongoing virtual interaction and collaboration between Co-lab members. In addition, members will be invited to attend a complementary calendar of events hosted by LSE and partners.

Co-Lab outputs:

Collaboration within the Co-Lab will build upon existing research, whilst charting its own new research and policy development agenda.  Within its focus theme, each Co-Lab will decide upon its specific priorities and outputs that could include, for example:

  • Producing research on what is needed to tackle the pressing global challenge.
  • Creating additional collaboration opportunities for leading institutions and experts in this space.
  • Training for emerging leaders on the focus topic.
  • Producing policy recommendations for global and regional institutions, the G20, national governments, private sector firms and beyond.
  • Designing a strategy and implementation plan to pilot policy recommendations in a specific geographic/political context.

The six Co-Labs

Each Co-Lab will seek to chart a path from rulership to leadership to address a pressing global challenge: 

1. Global emergencies and responses

Global emergencies demand globally-coordinated responses. They cannot be prepared for, contained or overcome, without the effective use of global institutions such as the World Health Organisation (WHO), the World Trade Organisation (WTO) and international financial institutions such as the International Monetary Fund (IMF) or the World Bank, or without collaboration across national partners. As we continue to respond, adapt to, and recover from the pandemic, transformative leadership, active learning and unprecedented collaboration is crucial. Crises on this scale are rare but not unique – to just highlight a couple of examples, there will be future pandemics and the risks posed by climate change are rising. How might we help create the conditions for transformative leadership to emerge, and unlock the power of our global and national institutions to respond to emergencies?

Specific focus topics could include:

  • Lessons from the first wave of COVID-19, including “smart” strategies to deal with the economic fallout, particularly for emerging and developing countries.
  • Understanding how global and national institutions, including multiple levels of governments, can better prepare for new emergencies in the future.
  • Supporting recovery from the pandemic and the role of global institutions. 

2. Rethinking global finance and the global financial infrastructure

Monetary policy and financing instruments have undergone a quiet revolution since the Global Financial Crisis (GFC), and the COVID pandemic has accelerated this trend. During the GFC, globally systemic central banks – the Federal Reserve, the ECB and, to an increasing extent, the People’s Bank of China – led a wave of quantitative easing (QE), utilising a new policy toolkit. They also increased their currency swap and repo facilities, extending them, for the first time, to a few emerging markets, forming a new element of the global financial safety net.  As the COVID pandemic hit, advanced country central banks have materially stepped up their QE and dramatically expanded their currency swap lines and repo facilities including to many emerging country monetary authorities. Benefitting from positive spillovers from these policies and building on their own improved credibility, central banks in emerging markets also have been able to do QE for the first time, without risks to inflation or exchange rates.  Moreover, with global trade and cooperation in retreat, central bank coordination seems to be the “only game in town” for cross-border collaboration. Meanwhile, new public-private partnerships are being actively considered – including for central bank digital currencies (CBDCs) – to leverage digitalisation for more efficient and inclusive financial sectors. 

Specific focus topics could include:

  • What is the longer-term impact of advanced country policy spillovers on emerging markets?
  • Will central banks permanently step up to fill the gap in global cooperation and global financial safety nets?
  • How does this affect private-sector operations, including the potential for private-public partnerships on digital currencies? 

3. Innovation and inclusive growth

In the wake of the pandemic, strategies for economic recovery and growth will require a dramatic rethinking of industrial policy and the role of the state over the long run. Global Value Chains (GVCs), which used to be an engine of growth and innovation in many emerging markets, will be redesigned to address health and food security concerns and more broadly to manage risks of concentration and disruption in the future. At the same time, new sources of innovation related to digitalisation are emerging.

Specific focus topics could include:

  • The impact of COVID-19 on GVCs.
  • FDI as a source of innovation.
  • The role of, and lessons from, the EU Recovery Fund in supporting innovation-led recoveries in Europe and its neighbourhood.

4. Climate and the oceans

How will the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic influence the climate change and ocean governance agenda? Are we better equipped to deal with “global commons” following the pandemic? How can we ensure a recovery with a ‘green tilt’ that also includes a new “blue” deal? Drawing on the LSE’s renowned Grantham Institute, led by Professor Lord Nick Stern, this Co-Lab can provide input to these deliberations.

Specific focus topics could include:

  • Lessons from the COVID response for climate change.
  • Developing policies for climate resilience; pre-empting and managing climate and ocean related risks.
  • Public investment in institutions and infrastructure to mitigate and adapt to climate impacts, and to build coastal resilience.
  • Mobilising institutional and private capital by extending green and blue bonds to wider asset classes.

5. Populism and sustainable governance

The COVID pandemic constitutes a dramatic test of leadership and of populist figures around the world, putting expertise and evidence back at the centre of public attention. Yet, it may also prove fertile ground for authoritarian solutions at the expense of democracy and democratic institutions. This Co-Lab aims to analyse these dynamics in real time and inform policymaking, as well as societies more broadly, drawing, inter alia, on LSE IGA’s Arena/democracy project.

Specific focus topics could include:

  • The impact of COVID-19 on populism: evidence and implications.
  • The relationship of business and autocracy.
  • The role of technology e.g. the ad-tech system, click farms, bots.

6. Human mobility

People have migrated throughout human history, in search of fertile lands with abundant resources, or to flee from wars, droughts or famines. With climate change and land degradation increasingly forcing people to abandon their homelands and livelihoods, and as the economic and political impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic are felt across the planet, the scale of global migration and displacement constitutes a critical challenge for governments whose citizens expect their rights and welfare to be at the forefront of policymaking. In times of major crisis, facing a ‘common enemy’ like COVID-19, people exhibit stronger solidarity, but also a tendency to shift towards in-group thinking. Solutions must balance the provision of resources and services to resident populations, while finding viable ways to protect vulnerable migrants and mitigate human costs.

Specific focus topics could include:

  • Impact of COVID-19 on migration, e.g. losses of remittances from destination countries.
  • Returning refugees to Syria: early lessons.
  • Role of leadership and media in shaping perceptions on migration.