The digital revolution has created a tectonic shift in how human beings are able to interact, how economies are built and sustained and how power can be used for the collective good around the world. The possibility exists for a world where the old power structures and biases can be
left behind. A world in which we can restructure human activity to optimize social impact. A world in which global collaboration can enhance creativity, and everyone has agency and a role to play in building a better future.
We are at the precipice of a 21st Century Renaissance in which a more just, equitable and healthy world can be born.
New opportunities for lasting human progress are everywhere, but so is the risk of slipping backwards — as good people try to make sense of what is hard to understand. In every corner of the earth there are shining examples of global activism, while, at the same time, there is ominous evidence of the all-too-familiar backlash that can happen as power structures fail and people feel left behind.
Today, a years-long tectonic shift that afforded at least some time for human behaviour to evolve has suddenly turned into an earthquake in which change is being forced rapidly and painfully. The coronavirus pandemic has placed an enormous burden on the livelihoods of
people, increasing social and economic inequality, vulnerability, and marginalization. It risks fueling a backlash and setting humankind back a generation — or worse. This COVID-19 crisis is not just one of public health, it is one of public wellbeing that threatens the very possibility of creating a more just, equitable and healthy world.
WINGSForum 2020: IMAGINE will focus on 3 major levers of change rooted in the very issues that are bringing about massive shifts in how we work, how we build social interactions and define community, how we create change and how we see ourselves as individuals.
The entire concept of power is undergoing an (r)evolution. It is moving from the top-down paradigm that has defined history for millennia toward a more natural distributed model. In the new model, true power is rooted in the agency that individuals and groups of changemakers have to create a better future for themselves. In the wake of COVID 19, governments have exercised an increased use of central power while communities are illustrating the incredible potential of resilient organizations and local action.
As we confront the long-term impact of the current crisis on the power distribution in society, we must seize the opportunity this crisis creates. We must rethink the way power is leveraged and distributed, first within the philanthropic sector, then with other actors of social change. The COVID-19 pandemic presents an opportunity to explore the limited adaptations in power distribution, the alternative and innovative ways to shift power dynamics and harness unrecognized power for social justice and the greater good.
It is time for honest conversations on the nominal grasp philanthropy has in the technology space. Better leverage of technology could have a profound impact on philanthropy’s role. In a fast-changing tech environment, philanthropic actors need to anticipate and navigate the transformations at play across society and in their specific areas of work. Philanthropic actors must gain an understanding of the threats and possibilities these transformations can have on our ability to make and support change. Together we need to explore frameworks and examine how new technologies in biotech, genetics, transportation, energy, artificial intelligence, data science and many other fields will impact society.
Technology allows unprecedented levels of transformation in the way we live our lives and lays the foundation for an inspiring future — at the same time, it magnifies at scale the biases and power structures in our minds if we don’t design it thoughtfully. If we are not intentionally inclusive and are too slow to build new democratic mechanisms and forms of governance surrounding technological developments, we could be left with an even greater technological divide, social unrest and unintended threats of economic exclusion.
The inherent flaws of old economic models are beginning to be exposed, as humankind has a better understanding of the growing social inequalities and environmental impact. COVID-19 has made it clear that too many of our people and our social systems are too vulnerable. This is the time to regrow inclusive economies. We must urgently de-concentrate economic flows, re-elevate territories and globally interconnect local economic systems. The philanthropy sector must champion new ways to measure “progress” and a more evolved concept of “value.” New models are emerging that hold the potential to transform our economies and our lives.
At the WINGSForum we will imagine how we can embrace these new business and economic models and help them flourish. We will imagine new roles that philanthropy can play in bridging the values and achievements of the social sector with mainstream markets. Together we will explore the possibilities of the Green economy, new financing models, impact investing and social economy to make tangible decisions on how to create progress at a greater pace and scale.
CALENDAR OF EVENTS 2020/2021
WINGSForum offers a rich Omni-platform peer-to-peer experience in which delegates can learn and collaborate — with each other and with experts, practitioners and benefactors across the entire range of philanthropic work. It will offer a variety of formats for interaction that allow us to explore the kind of society we are seeking to build, the transformation philanthropic actors need to undertake to build it, and the personal shifts we must embrace to lead the way.
The advent of a global pandemic makes the logistics of coming together impossible in 2020, but it is equally impossible to just “shift” to a digital format for a WINGSForum because much of the interactions and collaborations that make our Forum so valuable simply cannot be replicated in a digital format.
So, our planning team reimagined an approach that is more creative and more aligned to support the important work ahead.
- Time is TBDRadisson Blu, Nairobi