Virtual Victoria Forum 2020:

The Virtual Victoria Forum 2020 will focus on bridging the divides that have been created and exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, developing an understanding of the longer-term implications of the crisis and our emerging responses to it. Discussions around the 2020 virtual forum will lay the groundwork for the flagship Victoria Forum in 2021, exploring global divides through the leans of Turf, Trust and Truth to a broader range of economic, social and environmental divides.

Impact of the pandemic on economic divides: As the coronavirus spreads across the globe, it appears to be widening the economic gap and exacerbating inequalities around the world. The rapid spread of the pandemic is exposing and deepening inequalities, economic exclusion and polarisation. International solidarity is crumbling leaving behind several vulnerable countries and populations to their fate. The pandemic has disrupted several global supply chains, but also extended others. Pharmaceutical and food supplies are among the most impacted ones.

Impact of the pandemic on social divides: The pandemic is widening the social divides by fueling right-wing populism, racial animosity, discrimination and deaths resulting from alcoholism, suicide and drug overdoses. Pre-existing social vulnerabilities have deepened among women, people of colour, Indigenous peoples and other marginalized and vulnerable populations.

Impact of the pandemic on environmental divides: The unexpected positive impact of the pandemic on the environment is noticeable in many regions of the world including China, Europe and North America. The quarantines across the globe are reducing emissions in the atmosphere and in the waterways. The reductions in harmful emissions could potentially contribute to saving lives- human, animal and plants- around the globe.

The Virtual Victoria Forum 2020 and the Victoria Forum 2021 is a partnership between the University of Victoria and the Senate of Canada.

The Forum will promote constructive and evidence based conversations to address these divides from three intersecting perspectives:

Turf: Our sense of place, land, territory, physical landscape or home shapes our identity, behaviour, culture, social norms and sense of belonging. Turf reflects the relationship of people to place and directs us to consider ownership, protection and rights over such place. Questions relating to turf lie at the heart of contemporary divides and conflicting definitions of truth.

Truth: What is “truth” and whose “truth” is “true”? The diffusion of diverse perceptions corresponding to the same reality, particularly with the advent of social media, is undermining social consensus and exacerbating the fault lines in our society. Concepts of alternative truth and post-truth are accelerating the erosion of trust in institutions, in others and in the future.

Trust: Trust serves as the foundation for building social relationships, prosperity, and institutions. Lines of divide between members of different groups are systematically reshaping the degree to which people extend trust to others. Bridging divides starts with (re)building trust.