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2020 Annual Summit Report

A Message from Concordia’s Co-Founders

The world as we know it is changing. Extreme uncertainty has gripped the globe at an alarming pace over recent months and drastically altered life. But this period of immense upheaval provides fertile ground for opportunity—for advancements in technology and innovation, for solutions that address the climate crisis and help save our planet, and for an end to systemic racism prevalent across every part of our society. While we may not know exactly what lies ahead, one thing remains abundantly clear: the world must unite to tackle a crisis of this scale.

This time last year, we’d wrapped up our ninth Annual Summit in New York City and preparations were well underway to host our largest in-person gathering for our 10th year. Fast forward a few months, and we never imagined that we’d be contemplating a fully-digital Annual Summit. But, for Concordia, there was no other option. When it felt like so much of the world had come to a standstill, we continued forward. We recognized the dire need for dialogue, collaboration, and unity, and we knew that we couldn’t afford to wait.

Our 10th Annual Summit took place over five days and brought together current and former heads of state, senior government officials, global CEOs, and NGO leaders doing essential work on the front lines of so many critical issues. In line with our mission, we placed high on our agenda the need to elevate those traditionally-excluded and emerging voices, and we sparked much-needed multifaceted collaboration among leaders, sectors, industries, states, and countries.

As always, we couldn’t have pulled this off without the support of our community. Thank you to our Leadership Council for their integral role in shaping Concordia into what it is today. Thank you to our Members, Sponsors, Partners, Advisors, Speakers, and Board for their dedication, insight, and expertise. And thank you to the thousands of attendees who joined us from their living rooms, home offices, and dining room tables. We look forward to working with you all over the coming weeks and months as we prepare for our 2020 Africa and Americas Summits, and pave the way for a successful 2021 and beyond.

Matthew A. Swift

Co-Founder, Chairman & CEO

Nicholas  M. Logothetis

Co-Founder & Chairman of the Board

Programming Sponsors

Programming Partners

Media Partners

Programming Themes

Keynote Town Halls

Our Keynote Town Halls heard from some of today’s leading minds around how to leverage this moment of global transition to “build forward”—instead of building back—toward a brighter, more equitable future. From Bob Woodward sharing his recent book Rage to Judith McKenna examining Walmart’s approach to business during a global pandemic, we were proud to welcome some of the world’s top leaders and luminaries.

U.S. Elections & Civic Engagement

With the 2020 U.S. presidential election fast approaching, the protest movements taking place across the country and citizens grappling with a global pandemic, the political backdrop in the U.S. is unprecedented. Officially opening the 2020 Annual Summit, the U.S. Elections & Civic Engagement programming block brought together cross-sector leaders to discuss what is at stake and how the world will be affected by the outcome of November’s election.

The U.S. Elections & Civic Engagement Round Robin heard from representatives of both presidential campaigns for a frank, honest, and balanced conversation about the future of U.S. leadership, democracy, and the economy. We heard from New York State Assembly Member Michael Blake, Senior Advisor to the Trump 2020 Campaign Lara Trump, and others, for a series of rapid-fire interviews on the latest insights and analysis of the U.S. political landscape. We also hosted a Strategic Dialogue with Women Political Leaders on the critical need for advancements in civic education to foster greater political participation towards a more diverse and inclusive electorate.

Below you’ll find a list of the Main Stage and Strategic Dialogue sessions featured within this programming block. Each session has its own summary, including next steps and key quotes.

COVID Response & Recovery - Concordia Action Alliance

Programming Sponsor: SAS

If we are to achieve a robust recovery from COVID-19, we need bold, innovative collaboration that leaves behind no one. The Concordia Action Alliance, officially launched at the 2020 Annual Summit, supports partnerships addressing pandemic and natural disaster preparedness and response, serving as a unique space for the ongoing alignment of resources, open sharing of challenges, and collective action.

We heard from Merck’s Chief Patient Officer & Executive Vice President Dr. Julie Gerberding, former director of the CDC, about the importance of investment in antimicrobial resistance (AMR) to avoid health calamities at an exponential scale. We welcomed SAS Institute for an examination of the role of data analytics and digital privacy rights in fighting the pandemic at the university level via contact tracing. And, in response to the pandemic’s far-reaching and long-term impact on society’s most vulnerable populations, Calamos Investments CEO John Koudounis demonstrated the positive effects that can be realized via corporate citizenship through his experience in Chicago. Meanwhile, our Strategic Dialogues featured small groups of experts who discussed everything from global partnerships to help develop and equitably distribute at a global scale COVID-19 vaccines and therapeutics to local perspectives on how Africa and the Americas are responding to the pandemic.

Below you’ll find a list of the Main Stage and Strategic Dialogue sessions featured within this programming block. Each session has its own summary, including next steps and key quotes.

Global Finance & Trade

With the global economy on a roller coaster ride due to the COVID-19 pandemic, society must adapt to new realities, providing an opportunity for cross-sector partnerships to help level the international economic playing field. This programming block explored the outlook for global finance and trade, as well as continuing Concordia’s innovative financing discussions, with the goal of facilitating partnerships in the blended finance space.

We welcomed Vodafone’s Joakim Reiter to discuss the need for digital equity and the financing gap preventing key infrastructure from being built. We heard from the U.S. International Development Finance Corporation’s Edward Burrier on the future of foreign direct investment and the investing adjustments the organization has made in light of COVID-19. Global Citizen Forum’s Armand Arton highlighted the value of nations’ participation in social impact investment programs in creating economic welfare for their citizens. During our Strategic Dialogues, small groups of experts discussed key topics ranging from building infrastructure for digital health services to the role of financial institutions in creating more equitable societies.

Below you’ll find a list of the Main Stage and Strategic Dialogue sessions featured within this programming block. Each session has its own summary, including next steps and key quotes.

Equality, Equity & Human Rights

Recent civil rights protests around the killing of George Floyd and countless other Black lives in the U.S. have shone a spotlight on the persistence of systemic racism and inequality worldwide. On Tuesday, September 22, top thought leaders convened at the 10th Concordia Annual Summit to discuss the ways in which solidarity can be established and human rights advanced as well as the steps we can all be taking to bring about a more just and equal world. Conversations spanned issues such as the business community’s responsibility in advancing racial equity, the need for an inclusive, equitable COVID-19 response, the road to robust democratic governance, the relationship between women’s health and economic empowerment, and the importance of ensuring access to education for all.

Leaders across different sectors shared their diverse perspectives. Summit attendees heard from Brad Smith, President of Microsoft, who revealed that Microsoft has committed to doubling representation for Black employees among the company’s managerial and leadership ranks within the next five years. Michelle Nunn, President & CEO of CARE USA, spoke about the data collection CARE has been undertaking on COVID-19 and its impact on women; so far, over 6,000 women have shared their pandemic-related concerns with the organization. Concordia also welcomed Toyin Saraki, who announced that the Wellbeing Foundation Africa has embarked on a campaign to increase women’s participation in health leadership in Nigeria, to address gender disparities in global health.

Below you’ll find a list of the Main Stage and Strategic Dialogue sessions featured within this programming block. Each session has its own summary, including next steps and key quotes.

Sports, Arts & Education: Levers of Growth & Diplomacy

For centuries, sports, arts, and education have been drivers of economic and social growth, and provide a key platform for cross-sector partnerships to engage youth and the wider population in a positive and transformational manner. As a part of this programming block, key stakeholders from these industries discussed how sports, arts, and education are agents of change, and how these industries have adapted in the aftermath of COVID-19.

We heard from Laureus Sport For Good’s Adam Fraser about the power of sports in uniting people and in driving progress towards racial and gender equality. We found out how Sesame Workshop, the nonprofit educational organization behind Sesame Street, is using educational media to assist families during these challenging times and creating normalcy for children experiencing extreme disruption. And, Microsoft, UNHCR, the Vodafone Foundation, and Foreign Policy came together to discuss the role of technology in overcoming pandemic-induced obstacles in education opportunities for refugee children. Meanwhile, the 2020 P3 Impact Award finalists presented their cross-sector collaborations on a variety of challenges—ranging from corneal blindness to social enterprise development—to a panel of expert judges. These are just a handful of highlights from the Sports, Arts & Education programming block.

Below you’ll find a list of the Main Stage and Strategic Dialogue sessions featured within this programming block. Each session has its own summary, including next steps and key quotes.

Technology & Workforce Development

Media Partner: Barron’s Group

The COVID-19 pandemic has greatly underscored the importance of technology and connectivity in today’s world. The 10th Concordia Annual Summit gathered top cross-sector visionaries for a series of conversations that addressed the future of technology and the world’s digital transformation.

World-class speakers addressed a range of issues, including digital equity, banking during COVID-19, technology-powered innovations for safer roads, and more. Summit attendees heard from Demetrios Marantis, Senior Vice President, Global Government Engagement at Visa, who revealed that Visa has committed to helping 50 million small and micro businesses garner an online presence and take advantage of the benefits of e-commerce. Attendees also heard from Bonnie Glick, Deputy Administrator of USAID, who walked them through USAID’s very first digital strategy, which was released earlier this year. Also present at the Summit was Safra Catz, CEO of Oracle, who highlighted Oracle’s efforts to technologically support farmers in the developing world. In partnership with the Israeli startup Agro-Scout, Oracle is providing farmers with autonomous scouting technology, empowering farmers to discover pestilence and disease in a timely manner.

Below you’ll find a list of the Main Stage and Strategic Dialogue sessions featured within this programming block. Each session has its own summary, including next steps and key quotes.

Food Systems & Security

Every day in every country around the globe, there are people who go to bed hungry and entire communities struggling to produce enough food for their people. COVID-19 is adding an additional layer of complication that will exacerbate food insecurity for years to come amid regional economic shutdowns. On Thursday, September 24, Concordia hosted a series of discussions that explored food systems-related issues such as the impact of climate change on food accessibility, the role of technology in improving accessibility of produce, the political implications of food deserts, and the challenges facing the next generation of farmers.

Top visionaries shared key insights and galvanized the audience into action. David Beasley, Executive Director of the United Nations World Food Programme, urged the private sector to not only engage in philanthropic efforts but also lend their skills and expertise to addressing food insecurity and fortifying country-level systems. William Sparks, Senior Advisor at Winrock International, spoke about Winrock’s commitment to systematically integrating smallholder farmer input into the agtech development process. And Mónica Ramírez, Founder of Justice for Migrant Women, called on global leaders to ensure that laws protecting farm workers are being enacted.

Below you’ll find a list of the Main Stage and Strategic Dialogue sessions featured within this programming block. Each session has its own summary, including next steps and key quotes.

Environmental Sustainability & Supply Chains

Programming Sponsor: Rubicon

This year, the world experienced huge environmental shifts in just a few weeks of economic shutdown—grounded aircraft fleets, empty Los Angeles freeways, and the Himalayas visible from 200 kilometers away are just a few examples. On Thursday, September 24, key thought leaders gathered at the 2020 Annual Summit to discuss ongoing environmental challenges created by economic growth and swelling global populations, and to brainstorm ways to combat these challenges.

Summit attendees had the opportunity to hear from top environmental changemakers. Michael Allegretti, Chief Strategy Officer at Rubicon, highlighted Rubicon’s ultimate goal: to completely end waste in all forms. To date, Rubicon has entered into over 54 public-private partnerships with cities to help their governments manage waste more effectively and efficiently. Attendees learned about the groundbreaking Stop the Illegal Wildlife Trade campaign, which was jointly launched by Space for Giants and the Independent and works to conserve the landscapes that Africa’s elephants rely on for survival in order to amplify efforts to end the illegal trade in wildlife parts. Attendees also heard about Walmart’s groundbreaking initiative, Project Gigaton, which aims to remove a gigaton of emissions from global supply chains.

Below you’ll find a list of the Main Stage and Strategic Dialogue sessions featured within this programming block. Each session has its own summary, including next steps and key quotes.

10th Anniversary Celebration

Reflecting on 10 years of impact through cross-sector collaboration, our 10th Anniversary Celebration featured a number of individuals who have played an integral role in Concordia’s growth over the past decade. The celebration also awarded three leading visionaries, Secretary-General António Guterres, Doug McMillon, and Christiana Figueres, with the 2020 Leadership Award for inspiring others through their extraordinary ability to turn vision into impact. Importantly, it marked the official launch of the Concordia Action Alliance and its associated Concordia Action Fund, which represent the next step in Concordia’s commitment to brokering and strengthening early-stage partnerships.


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Thank you to those who made it Possible:

SpotMe4 - 2020 Annual Summit Report


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2020 Annual Summit notetakers:

  • Cedric Dzelu
  • Hanna Gregory
  • Madison Kang
  • Katie McCracken
  • Maria McDonough
  • Minty Pham.