A few months ago, we had the opportunity to attend the 2022 Devex World Conference in Washington, D.C. As we look ahead to the UN General Assembly meetings and other key international development events coming up, we see it fitting to reinforce some critical lessons that surfaced on the roles each of us can play in this changing global landscape.

Our world is under tremendous crises, with monumental shifts spanning multiple facets of society. From debt crises to widespread famine and hunger to a growing wealth gap, communities continue to find themselves plagued by rampant inequality, coupled with repercussions of a post-pandemic world. Communities vulnerable to climate disruptions or social and political unrest are fleeing their homes at drastic rates. Many are falling victim to data theft and facing identity barriers as technological developments are abused to exploit displaced communities. Further, the lack of connection between funders/capital and local communities hinders the identification of solutions that work. Given the various shocks affecting the world, the Devex World Conference was aptly focused on “building a better normal.”

As equity champions—both at the national and international level—we want to emphasize that this new reality must be better for all, not just the few. To successfully build this “better normal,” our advice is to center the voices of under-represented populations who are often those disproportionately bearing the brunt of our many global challenges.

Fortunately, the last couple of years have also shown us unmatched resilience in the face of global turmoil. The COVID-19 pandemic, despite its disastrous repercussions, gave way to some of the most accelerated vaccine development in history. Digital connectivity has increased, with more people getting online for the first time and accessing more opportunities than ever before. The job market is evolving as individuals look for higher-paying jobs and for employers who are committed to a social not just financial purpose. Similarly, organized movements for change have gained significant momentum, with young people leading efforts to combat racial equity, climate change and demand fair pay.

As we look ahead, we encourage our clients—companies and foundations alike—to focus on alleviating the immediate needs many are experiencing while centering local know-how to maximize on the silver linings. We advise stakeholders to drive change through valuing local community knowledge and assets by:

  1. Focusing on safety nets & wealth generation.
  2. Supporting social movements and democracy building.
  3. Trusting local leaders. 

Read the full article about corporate philanthropy in a local context by Chirlie Felix Gabriella Cova Maria Marta Habich at FSG.