2024 Festival of Governance theme announced

26 March 2024

Good governance because this is how we rise

Our theme for the 2024 Festival of Governance was inspired by a comment made by our 2023 annual lecturer and award winner, Jane Davidson.

During the panel discussion that followed her lecture, Jane described the various environmental, social, economic and political crises we face as a ‘polycrisis’. And, as this is a year when more than half of the world’s population will go to the polls, she encouraged voters to decide what it is they’re going to rise about.

It’s the nature of a crisis to want to take immediate action. But we can only imagine what sort of delays and conflict can be expected from debating which crisis should take precedence over another.

We believe that the best response to the polycrisis is not to waste time choosing what to rise about but just to rise.

But how? Rather than isolating ourselves in the name of a single cause, let’s raise our sights and start making decisions that influence the world, not just ourselves and our immediate communities but for every living thing on this planet, not just for now but for the future.

The way we got into a climate crisis, a cost-of-living crisis, a fuel crisis, or any other global crisis was not always intentional. It was a collaboration by people making decisions that would benefit themselves and those closest to them. To reverse this, people need to make decisions that take into account wider consequences.

In practical terms, we’re inviting those who serve on public- and third-sector boards to assess the maturity of their decision-making by considering whether it is focused on their own narrow interest, or that of their immediate circle, or their entire organisation, or their community – or even the whole country.

Or can they find ways to benefit humanity as a whole – both for those of us alive today and for future generations?

Good governance because this is how we rise

Good governance award and annual lecture

Our full festival line up – including this year’s Good Governance Award winner and our Annual Lecture keynote speaker – will be announced soon. In the meantime, here’s a recap of our previous winners and speakers.

Festival award winners composite

Good Governance Award Winners
(pictured left to right, top to bottom)

  • 2015 - Professor Judge Mervyn King, for his outstanding contribution to corporate governance, and his advocacy for ESG and integrated reporting, in South Africa and around the world.
  • 2016 - Sir William Wells, for his contribution to the NHS governance system, which underpinned the NHS reforms of the Blair and Brown governments that delivered a step-change in the quality and performance of the health system in England.
  • 2017 - Sir Liam Donaldson, for his contributions to clinical and quality governance and patient safety.
  • 2018 - Dame Julie Moore, for her incredible services to the NHS, on behalf of NHS leaders who have navigated and transformed our unique and valued NHS since 1948.
  • 2019 - Dame Fiona Caldicott, in recognition of her services to data and information governance as the UK’s first statutory National Data Guardian for health and social care.
  • 2020 - Dame Janet Smith, for her significant contribution to improving good governance through her work as a High Court Judge and President of the Council of the Inns of Court.
  • 2021 - Sir Michael Marmot, in recognition of his extensive and dedicated work on health inequalities and evidence-based decision making.
  • 2022 - Baroness Helena Kennedy, in recognition of dedicating her professional life giving voice to those who have least power within the system, championing civil liberties and promoting human rights.
  • 2023 - Jane Davidson, in recognition of her outstanding contribution to environmental sustainability.

Festival speaker composite

Annual Lecture Keynote Speakers
(pictured left to right, top to bottom)

  • 2015 - Professor Judge Mervyn King, Senior Counsel and former Judge of the Supreme Court of South Africa. Author of the King codes of governance, and a Professor Extraordinaire at the University of South Africa.
  • 2016 - Lord Bob Kerslake, former Head of the Civil Service, Chair of Peabody, Chair of the Centre for Public Scrutiny (CfPS), Chair of London CIV, and President of the Local Government Association.
  • 2017 - Professor Andrew Corbett-Nolan, co-founder and CEO of GGI, who was the first Director for Health Services Accreditation, Development Director at the King’s Fund, Chief Executive of the Health and Social Care Quality Centre, and Development Director of the Commissioning Institute.
  • 2018 - The Rt Hon Jacqui Smith, Chair of University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust and the UK’s first female home secretary. Jacqui is also Chair of the Precious Trust, a Birmingham-based charity supporting girls at risk of gang violence, and of the Lunar Society. She is also a trustee of the Kings Fund.
  • 2019 - Lord Kamlesh Patel of Bradford, Chair of Social Work England and previously chair of the Mental Health Act Commission. A qualified social worker, he worked in inner-city Bradford and then established a number of third sector agencies working with those misusing drugs and those with mental health problems.
  • 2020 - Rob Whiteman, Chief Executive of the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy (CIPFA), former chief executive of the UK Border Agency and had previously led the Improvement and Development Agency, and was CEO of the London Borough of Barking and Dagenham.
  • 2021 - Professor Jaideep Prabhu, Professor of Marketing and Jawaharlal Nehru Professor of Indian Business at Judge Business School, University of Cambridge, who discussed his much-acclaimed book How Should a Government Be?
  • 2022 - Dr Anjali Mazumder - Theme Lead on AI and Justice & Human Rights at the Alan Turing Institute, where she focuses on empowering government and non-profit organisations by co-designing and developing responsible and inclusive data and AI methods, tools and frameworks for safeguarding people from harm.
  • 2023 - Jane Davidson - Former Welsh government minister who was the joint architect of the Future Generations act in Wales, and was instrumental in developing the One Planet Standard. As a professor at the University of Wales Trinity Saint David, Jane continues to inspire and educate the next generation of leaders in sustainability and governance.

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