Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 23 October 2020

How do you put a 'value' on values?

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The theme of this year’s World Values Day on October 15 is “Values In Action”, and it could not be more relevant to the aims of Values 20 (V20) which launched this September.

It has always been important for values to inform and improve the policies and decisions that affect us all, and the Covid-19 pandemic epitomises this. Yet there’s a relatively small evidence base proving how values can best take effect.

It’s in this context that a global community of values experts and practitioners has come together to form V20. The aim is to support policymakers around the world by finding people-centred public policy solutions based on values, which help improve societal outcomes and overcome global challenges. By demonstrating the “value of values” we also hope, in the long run, to become an official G20 engagement group.

The V20 group has already set to work through three taskforces relevant to the G20's strategic goals, developing useful insights to inform policy recommendations under the themes of “Global Values”, “Leadership Values” and “Quality of Life Values”.

At its core, V20’s mission is to facilitate an open-minded exploration of practical values – not embark on a scholarly classification of philosophical concepts. That’s why, in addition to the important work of our taskforces, V20 is configured to listen rather than lecture. It’s why we offer a platform instead of a prescription. It’s why we’re putting “people” into the phrase “people-centred policymaking”.

We believe that the essence of values exists not on paper, but in the individual actions of billions, and that by reaching out to the rich tapestry of human diversity, with its array of divergent lived experience, we will inform policymaking with values most likely to be useful in the real world.

It is to harvest these practical “Values in Action” that we are welcoming people from around the world, of all ages and backgrounds, to join a special V20-hosted Tweetup on the “Value of Values” between 1-2pm GMT during World Values Day this year. Those joining can tell the world, via the Tweetup, how their values impact their lives and their communities.

There’s a relatively small evidence base proving how values can best take effect

At V20, we’ve already launched our own crowdsourcing campaign that will conclude in early November, through which people are sending us “what works” videos about successful and practical values from their lives, communities and countries.

Our approach is designed to be bottom-up. We believe it’s important to take people’s ideas and insights about values upwards, into the purview of world leaders at the G20 and beyond. With that in mind, all of V20's activities will contribute to a V20 Communique for presentation to the G20 leaders, to demonstrate the transformational benefits that evidence-based, value-oriented public policy can deliver.

We fully appreciate the immense scale of this task, and that it cannot be achieved overnight. Ensuring a prominent role for values in policymaking is perhaps a perpetual undertaking and will require much international collaboration, consultation and creativity.

It’s one that we’re optimistic about and so we’ve configured V20 for the long term. A network hub will leverage the huge potential of this growing community; a knowledge platform will share insights and best practice and inspire engagement; and the crowd-sourcing campaign will be annual. This will ensure continuity for the V20 organising bodies in future years, each drawn from the country holding the G20 presidency and coordinating the work of a wide range of individuals and organisations from all over the world.

In tune with the other admirable values organisations participating in World Values Day, as well as the excellent work of the official G20 engagement groups, at V20 we’re playing our part in helping as wide an audience as possible to discover, debate, publicise and be inspired by the practical values that can lead to positive action in our world.

The V20’s Unique Selling Point goes one step further by ensuring that these outputs have the best chance possible to influence global, national, regional and local decision-makers, in governmental, business or other organisations. Values have always had value, but they can have much more value when they inform policy and action, and that’s what we’re dedicated to at V20.

Dimah Al Sheikh is chair of Values 20, and previously worked to promote values and cultural transformation in Saudi Arabia

Updated: October 18, 2020 10:29 AM

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