The idea behind NELIS goes back to 2004. NELIS co-founder, Peter David, worked on sustainability strategy with multinational corporations in Japan and often felt terribly frustrated. There are many good people in these organizations, but the system in which they are embedded made it seem unlikely that any kind of “sustainable” future would ever be possible. Another approach was needed and the idea that struck Peter David was NELIS – Next Leaders’ Initiative for Sustainability.
Then, in the spring of 2014, Peter David got together with another of the NELIS cofounders, Tatsuo Akimura at the annual TED x Tokyo conference. A conversation at this event led to the decision to start NELIS in 2015. A few months later, Masahito Yamamoto, a business colleague and good friend of Akimura-san’s, agreed to join the start-up team as the third co-founder.
Thus, NELIS took its first small steps from dream to reality in August 2014 at a series of monthly meetings of the three co-founders and volunteer staff. An inaugural Global Gathering was held in October 2015 in Shiga, Japan with the participation of 25 people from 14 countries, followed by a second Global Gathering in Kyoto & Shiga in January 2017 with 35 people from 15 countries. These were the first major strides towards creating a global network of action. The original idea behind NELIS was that there is an urgent need in the world for “next generation leadership,” which integrates social and environmental considerations into decision-making regardless of whether we are talking of agriculture, business, urban planning, politics, education, health or other sectors of society. Without the willingness to give sustainability considerations at least equal weighting with other priorities, it is unlikely that humanity will be able to flourish in co-existence with other species on Earth. It seems equally unlikely that an entirely new approach to leadership and decision-making will be realized top-down from within the institutions and structures of present national and/or international bodies or organizations.
NELIS argues that only by linking a new generation of sustainability practitioners across the world in a collaborative network, will humanity be able to shift towards a more humane and ecologically sound model of social and economic development. NELIS works Towards One World in Harmony.