The event, which was also open to virtual participants, brings social innovators and entrepreneurs together with the heads of the world’s leading funds and foundations. Over three days they shared stories of the challenges affecting majority communities around the globe and the local innovations that have the potential to drive transformation. As the forum preview suggested, “ Over the past 20 years, we’ve witnessed unprecedented advancements, global connectedness, and sweeping change movements. Our collective impact is cause for celebration even in the face of ongoing challenges.”
Climate change, digital technology and democracy
The golden threads running through the programme were climate change, digital technology and its spread of misinformation and the dangers the latter posed for democracy. In the opening plenary Maria Ressa, Nobel Peace Prize winner, journalist and CEO, Co-founder and President of Rappler, who has faced persecution in her homeland Philippines, reflected on how misinformation undermines democracy. She went on to assert, “You cannot solve global problems if our information ecosystem is corrupted.”
Al Gore, former US Vice President, Founder and Chairman of The Climate Reality Project, focused on the importance of diversity for democracy and said that if we want to “”solve the climate crisis, we need to solve the democracy crisis”. Gore’s view is that diversity is essential for counteracting the danger that digital misuse posed for democracy. “When we have different points of view, because of our ethnic and gender orientation, religion, ability or disability – all of differences that we often point toward when we think about people – they’re all incredibly valuable in giving us an ability to see what we’re looking at with more than our own eyes and get more meaning as a result of our collaboration,” he explained.
Accelerate social innovation impact
During the plenary, Skoll Foundation CEO, Don Gips, a founder member and key supporter of Catalyst 2030, stressed the importance of supporting social innovation saying, “Now we’re trying to figure out what we can do to accelerate the impact of those social entrepreneurs.” Five social innovators were celebrated with awards at the 2023 Awards for Social Innovation Ceremony on April 13. They are:
- Rukka Sombolinggi, Aman (Indonesia)
- Debbie Rogers, Reach Digital Health (South Africa)
- Ian Bassin, Protect Democracy (USA)
- Carina Pimenta, Conexsus (Brazil)
- Michael McAfee, PolicyLink (US)
The Awards Ceremony ended with the multi-platinum-selling Puerto Rican recording artist Luis Fonsi. With the crowd on their feet dancing and singing, Luis invited the Award winners on stage to dance to his hit single Despacito.
This spirit carried into the final plenary which celebrated HIP HOP with performances by Darryl “DMC” McDaniels, Sister FA, Hip Hop Public Health and Ali A.K.A. Mind. One attendant who has been a regular at the event for a decade said that he’d “never seen as much as energy as this closing plenary”.
Thanks to the incredible generosity of the Skoll Foundation, more than 40 Catalyst 2030 members were able to attend the live event, in addition to members who had booked privately. Catalyst 2030 Chief Facilitator Jeroo Billimoria hosted a lunch, sponsored by the Skoll Foundation, for members, guests and funders on Wednesday 12 April and a dinner on the following evening for members, guests, funders and potential funders.
Catalyst 2030 members found the event very well planned, professionally organised and executed, with sessions well curated and an excellent line up of speakers and moderators. As one was heard to comment, “I’ve attended more than 10 World Skoll Forums and this was the best.”