Day Three of #GPF18

The final day of the 2018 Global Philanthropy Forum was about connecting the dots. Whether it’s digital media and democracy, climate change and conflict, or hunger and health, speakers emphasized the importance of understanding the relationships between issues in order to craft effective solutions.

Digital and social media have upended not only the news industry, but entire concepts of governance. Ray Suarez, visiting professor at Amherst College and co-host of WorldAffairs, sat down with Jennifer Cobb, director of United for News, Eileen Donahoe, executive director of the Global Digital Policy Incubator at Stanford University, Tristan Harris, co-founder of the Center for Humane Technology, and Gerald Ryle, director of the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, to consider the ways digital media impact public life. Speakers agreed on the importance of being clear-eyed about the dual nature of digital technologies. While many assumed the disruptive effects of technology would favorably support civil society, they have often had the reverse effect. At a time when many are calling for change in the digital media ecosystem, all agreed philanthropy has an important role to play in supporting new experimental business models. 


Vulnerable populations are a direct result of conflict. Jane Wales, founder of the Global Philanthropy Forum, sat down with Deepmala Mahla, country director of Mercy Corps Iraq, and Franck Bousquet, senior director of the Fragility, Conflict and Violence Group at the World Bank, to discuss the connection between conflict and poverty. Bousquet highlighted the importance of addressing the root causes of fragility and pointed out that it is not linked with income levels. “It’s not only an issue of financing, it’s about making sure funding is done in a resilient and inclusive way,” he said. Focusing on reconstruction efforts in Iraq, Mahla stated that rebuilding the social fabric and trust of society is just as important as physical reconstruction.

Deepmala and Franck

Food insecurity and death from preventable disease continue to devastate fragile populations around the world. David Lobell, deputy director of the Center on Food Security and the Environment at Stanford University, Lustia Nkhoma, enterprise development officer at Clinton Development Initiative Malawi, Nithya Ramanathan, CEO and co-founder of Nexleaf Analytics and Anushka Ratnayake, founder of CEO of myAgro, spoke with Heather Kinlaw Lofthouse, director of special projects at the Blum Center for Developing Economies at UC Berkeley, about innovative ideas being developed to address these issues.  Speakers highlighted the importance of information sharing, both in terms of bolstering local knowledge as well as in strengthening partnerships between different sectors.


The forum ended with remarks by Jane Wales, who reminded the audience that the overarching challenge is rebuilding trust through social capital and individual agency. Speakers throughout the past three days demonstrated how collaboration is the most effective tool to combat this distrust. The forum ended on an upbeat note with a capoeira performance, a Brazilian dance that embodies the principle of trust.

Jane Day 3