2019 Global Philanthropy Forum

• Redwood City, CA

 

Reclaiming Democracy

Frustrated by democracy’s ongoing debate about the relationship between the government and the governed, former Massachusetts Congressman Barney Frank once quipped that "government is simply the name we give to the things we choose to do together." Yet, democracy, the system of national governance long seen as most respectful of individual rights, most resilient in the face of change, and best able to provide, appears to have lost its luster. Whether in Europe, Asia, Africa or the Americas democratic norms appear to be eroding, its institutions challenged if not undermined.

Once the standard-bearer of human rights abroad and civil liberties at home, in 2018 the US has experienced the most precipitous decline in citizen trust of any country surveyed by the Edelman Trust Barometer at any time, while China has experienced the greatest rise.

Moreover, elections in democracies as far-flung as Hungary, Poland, the Philippines, Mexico and Brazil suggest a trend toward nationalist populism – resulting in illiberal democracies where the vote is sacrosanct but an embrace of pluralism is not. In part this outcome reflects citizens’ response to the pressures of globalization, and the apparent inability of political leaders to address intractable problems—such as inequality, mass migration, climate change or race relations.

In the face of this perceived dysfunction, citizen leaders on all continents have turned to community solutions. And philanthropists – once obsessed with scale -- have increasingly embraced a new localism. They complement their “big bets” with a focus on localities where collaborative problem solving is most visible; the opportunity and need for cross-sector engagement is most apparent; and the reality of mutual dependence is inescapable. Community life entails repeated experiences in reasoning, compromising, and taking decisions together -- the basis on which civic culture is built.

At the 2019 Global Philanthropy Forum, you will explore ways the next generation seeks to give vitality to democratic norms and modernize democratic institutions. You will learn about the experiences of communities where inventive solutions have been crafted, ethical and inspiring leadership has been shown, problems have been solved and social capital has been built. In short, where democratic decision-making has worked. Examples will come from Latin America, Africa, Europe and Asia—as will the philanthropists and social entrepreneurs who will join you.

In the end, you may not conclude that government is the word for the things we do together—but rather self-governance is. And you may find that an investment in the processes of democratic decision-making is the ultimate “big-bet.”

After all, the only way to scale democracy is by example.

Registration is Now Open

The 2019 Global Philanthropy Forum is for individuals who have made a significant commitment to philanthropy and executives from private, public and corporate foundations. Participation in the conference is by invitation only and invitations are not transferable.

If you would like to nominate other philanthropists, foundation leaders and social investors who can both learn from and share with the GPF community, please contact Angelina Donhoff at [email protected].

 

Agenda

Philanthropy & Civil Society

Philanthropy and the civil society organizations it supports are agile and responsive, capable of changing strategies and financing vehicles as circumstances demand and new opportunities allow. All the while the social sector can maintain a long view. At the GPF we will explore some of the recent trends and hopeful signs—including new opportunities to learn while giving, as well as to collaborate across geographies and ideologies, even in polarizing times. We will test assumptions and find ways to work and learn together at a time when liberal democracy is in peril.

Data & Democracy

Digital technologies have been used to improve governance, assure accountability, establish identity and to improve health and education outcomes. But these same technologies can be used by autocratic governments to surveil and silence critics. They have already been used by malign actors to sow discord in democracies and to undermine trust. Finally, data can reinforce bias in systems that are biased, and be used to exclude or deny access. We will explore the many ways to put data to the service of democratic values and practice, and to protect against the dangers those same technologies can pose.

New Localism

In the face of the perceived dysfunction at the national and international levels when it comes to large issues like immigration, inequality and climate, citizen leaders on all continents have turned to community solutions. And philanthropists—once obsessed with scale— have increasingly embraced a “new localism,” a phrase coined by Brookings scholar Bruce Katz. They complement their “big bets” with a focus on localities where collaborative problem solving is most visible; the opportunity and need for cross-sector engagement is most apparent; and the reality of mutual dependence is inescapable. Scholars, remarkable civil society actors and philanthropists will share stories of what has worked and what has not—and seek to learn from one another.

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Location

The Hotel Pullman
223 Twin Dolphin Drive
Redwood City, CA 94065
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