Our 2021 Annual Summit, having taken place both digitally and in-person the week of September 20, 2021, convened the top movers and shakers of today’s world—including global C-suite executives, politicians, nonprofit leaders, and entrepreneurs—to spark dialogue, catalyze collaboration, and collectively pave the path toward a more equitable, sustainable future.
As communities across the globe continued to rebuild and recover from COVID-19, our 11th Annual Summit doubled down on Concordia’s core belief: working in partnership is infinitely better than working alone.
Across the globe, investors and companies are waking up to the real physical and regulatory risks—and potential opportunities—posed by a warming climate. Accelerating this shift is the coronavirus pandemic. With many of the root causes of climate change increasing the risk of pandemics, the outbreak of COVID-19 has caused individuals to become acutely aware of the intricate relationship between pandemics and planetary health, amplifying the importance of environmental sustainability in guaranteeing a healthy future. While widely acknowledged that those organizations that employ sustainable practices will be the most profitable in the long run, implementation is another story. Widespread adoption will require an urgent need to adapt and to continue to innovate across all sectors in order to mitigate the environmental impacts already in motion, while at the same time ensuring that environment-related inequalities pertaining to race, gender, and socioeconomic status are addressed. What common misconceptions exist? And what challenges must be overcome to gain support?
The COVID-19 pandemic has shifted global dynamics, not only in terms of how we connect with others, but also in how we exchange and produce goods. Ongoing trade wars between nations and regions, supply chains, and the economic stability of the manufacturing sector are constantly evolving with the political and social landscape. The distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine will put innovation in the manufacturing sector to the test and shine light on further applications and improvements that will ripple throughout industries. How will the global desire for connectivity and innovation in trade prompt the dynamic movement of supply chains? How can we tackle human rights issues across global supply chains? And, what new trends are on the horizon?
Integral to truly sustainable global development and positive social impact is a need for fundamental human rights to be universally protected. Today, we’re increasingly witnessing a tension between the rapid economic and technological growth of the 21st century and the rising levels of socioeconomic inequality and public distrust around the world. Without freedom of expression, movement, public discourse, and the fair and free rule of law, global prosperity is untenable. How can cross-sector collaboration help resolve social tensions and advance racial and gender equality and equity around the world?
In addition to a profound global health crisis, the COVID-19 pandemic brought about an economic crisis of great magnitude from which it will take time to recover. This economic and social crisis exacerbated existing needs within society, such as those for greater financial inclusion among women and minorities and for strengthening small and medium-sized enterprises, which represent close to 90% of businesses and more than 50% of employment globally. How can we best navigate this global recession to avoid the continuing fall in GDP of different countries? How will emerging economies be impacted in the long term? And, how can opportunity zones create more socially-minded investors and generate wealth for diverse communities?
Dependency on technology has surged amid the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic. A sudden change in how we connect with others highlighted the need for a tech-savvy economy and a digital transformation that meets social needs. It also called attention to a socioeconomic divide, which could threaten the ability to grow wealth in a digitized economy, in addition to a deepening gender divide, particularly in developing countries. What doubts remain about the role of technology in society, especially in terms of data privacy, closing social gaps with connectivity, and the need for a solid digital infrastructure in workforce development?
Stable, prosperous, and resilient communities are built through engaged and connected citizens who can actively participate in shaping their social, economic, and political future. In this digital era, access to education is key to ensuring young citizens, especially disempowered young women, are included and engaged in civic society, local and national economies, and global development strategies. Furthermore, cultural diplomacy is essential to bringing people together as well as sustaining and improving relations across different cultures. How can governments, NGOs, and businesses engage with a diverse set of youth leaders to develop solutions and promote sustainable impact?
Throughout the world, but especially in the U.S., the fragility of democracy has been a highly discussed topic in recent months. From one of the most competitive elections in America’s history to the growing refugee crisis around the world, strengthening democracy and maintaining national security are top of mind for governments and citizens alike. A focus on redefining foreign policy and collaboration between countries, as well as a sense of domestic peace and security, will be high on governmental agendas throughout the world. How can political parties in divided countries come together to work towards a successful future? How can initiatives designed to situate women as key actors in preventing conflict, promoting peace, and countering violent extremism effect a change? What role does technology like artificial intelligence play in navigating geopolitical risk and policymaking? And, how can sectors and multilateral organizations work together to strengthen democracy and national security in a time that seems so fraught with threat and conflict?
The pandemic has exposed weaknesses in public health systems around the world and deep health disparities along divides of race, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, and gender. Both the palpable strain on physical health systems and structures and the more subtle effects on social relations and mental health must be considered in measuring the health impact of this time. Research on past epidemics reveals a wide range of psychosocial consequences at the individual and population level but also emphasizes the importance of psychological resilience in recovery. As we think about how to foster an equitable pandemic recovery, how do we design our public health systems, incentivize preparedness and prevention, and create partnerships in the service of a healthier, more resilient society?