Reflections on the Skoll World Forum in 2016

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Reflections on the Skoll World Forum in 2016

“Love and compassion are necessities, not luxuries.  Without them humanity cannot survive” – His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama


It was the first year for Linked Foundation to have the opportunity and privilege to attend the Skoll World Forum  in Oxford, England. The mission of the Forum is to highlight both thinking and action, and calls on the global community to celebrate and support social entrepreneurs whose dedication to social justice propels their journeys toward real and lasting solutions.  Forum delegates represent nearly 65 countries and participate in a range of interactive events in which delegates can openly share, collaborate, innovate, and ultimately, advance social entrepreneurship.  What struck me most was the theme of the conference “Fierce Compassion.” The days were started with a guided meditation, and several panels highlighted ways to consider mindfulness for personal sustainability, use faith and spirituality as levers for change, and how to lead with compassion.  No matter what the context, the thread of fierce compassion was woven into the conversation and content of the conference. Together we were able to deepen our understanding that love and compassion are not merely personal feelings that remain with the individual, but are the guiding forces in our lives and must be embraced in everything that we do. Our compassion (or lack thereof) touches those we meet, and must be the purpose for why we work to make the world a better place. It allows us to resist our own biased assumptions and think creatively about how to solve global challenges with the greatest outcome for those affected.

The Skoll awardees demonstrated fierce compassion in their work and it was such an inspiration to see each one recognized for their contribution in the world, giving voice and empowerment to the most marginalized:

  • Mallika Dutt and Sonali Khan from Breakthrough who are working in India to stop gender-based violence
  • Chuck Slaughter from Living Goods, saving lives in Uganda going door to door with vital health products
  • Vivek Maru from Namati who is putting the law in people’s hands
  • Oren Yakobovich from Videre who is exposing and ending violence and abuse
  • Bryan Stevenson, Equal Justice Initiative working in the US to build a just criminal system.

It is hard to capture all of the learning, connection and inspiration that came from the forum, but it felt most important to share the essence of what was the uniting factor: a commitment to fierce compassion to collectively create a more peaceful, prosperous, just and sustainable world. Take a moment to watch this brief video:

Nancy Swanson, Executive Director