Victoria Forum 2021

Bridging Divides: Turf, Truth and Trust

Our world is divided in many ways and along different fault lines. The 2020 Forum will focus on ways to bridge these divides:

Bridging economic divides

Globalization has fostered economic integration through substantial growth of international trade and the free movement of goods, services and capital. At the same time, protectionisms and trade barriers are challenging the modern global trading system. Moreover, despite the unprecedented economic growth that has occurred, the world has become more divided along economic, social and environmental lines. The degradation of social conditions for many along with the impacts of a changing climate have contributed to economic instability. Many people have lost trust in economic and political leaders when it comes to developing a positive vision for the future and creating opportunities for all. The Forum will discuss innovative solutions to foster inclusive and sustainable economic development and responsible business management.

Bridging social divides

Most people from around the world believe that their country is divided. Identity, territoriality, religion, race, economic opportunities, culture and politics have all been cited as root causes of increased divisions. Women, in particular, continue to face significant systemic barriers across sectors and the rates of sexualized and physical violence in our society are alarming. The Forum aims to create the space that enables people to connect across all boundaries. The forum will create innovative ways to get people to engage with each other, merging the old with the new, through arts and culture, music and sports as fundamental ways of thinking about things.

Bridging environmental divides

Humanity faces critical environmental problems but political, social, and ideological polarization increasingly hinders our collective ability to address these problems. According to recent studies, a 2.8˚C increase in global temperatures from pre-industrial levels would cause an average of US$520 billion in damages per year across 22 economic sectors in the US alone. The burdens of climate change are disproportionately felt by the poor, the disempowered, the marginalized and Indigenous people. The recognition of these challenges led several businesses to reconsider how they do business and the incorporation of a broader stakeholder value maximization perspective. Increasingly,  leaders are recognizing that sustainability is important to the future success of their organizations, and large investors are committing to climate change action. The Victoria Forum will connect different conversations such as human security and development through the implementation of the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

The Victoria Forum 2021 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.

On November 18th, 2019, the Victoria Forum convened a strategy workshop at the High Commission of Canada in the United Kingdom to narrow down the key themes of the Victoria Forum. The workshop was well attended by more than twenty-five distinguished creative thinkers and influential leaders representing a cross section of international organizations from Canada and Europe.

Planned events for November, 2021

Forum conversation: The Victoria Forum is structured around a number of plenary panels and parallel think tank sessions to elaborate solutions and recommendations. The Forum is designed to facilitate constructive dialogue, collaboration and forward thinking by focusing on results and building bridges between different groups.

Power of sports for truth and reconciliation: The Victoria Forum is working with the Commonwealth Games Federation to develop a global declaration on the power of sport in addressing historical and contemporary issues of truth and reconciliation.

Arts & Culture: The Victoria Forum is collaborating with the Royal BC Museum and the Faculty of Fine Arts to put together an art and culture program to support the conversation on bridging divides. This initiative will highlight the fluency of art across cultures and create a space for inter-connectedness of culture, nature and economy.

Idea Hub: The Victoria Forum and the University of Victoria will create a space for promoting and highlighting innovative ideas and amplifying youth voices on social, economic and environmental issues from here and around the world.

Music: The Victoria Forum is leading an initiative to explore music as a universal language for bridging divides, with a focus on newcomer and Indigenous relations in the context of globalization and reconciliation.

Innovative finances for international development: The Victoria Forum will convene an international conversation on bridging impact investing, sustainable finance and sustainable socio-economic development.

Future of doing business (and banking): In collaboration with TELUS and Vancity, the Victoria Forum will convene a national conversation on the future of doing business in Canada and around the world.

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