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New Roles, New Responsibilities in the Social Contract

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"What brings us together this year is the sense that the social contract is fraying, but that it is also evolving." So began this year's Global Philanthropy Forum, "Towards a New Social Contract," kicked off yesterday by GPF's president and CEO, Jane Wales, in Washington DC.

The conference focus is on the changing nature of the global social contract -- how globalization is changing the way our societies choose to divide up responsibility and allocate resources to improve the public good. GPF members are exploring the ways in which traditional roles and responsibilities have shifted over the past few years, and how they continue to shift -- particularly the increasing power of the individual in the national and global arena, and how the private sector and government can and should work together to increase their impact.

USAID Administrator Raj Shah opened the conference by speaking about the role for creative public-private partnerships in enhancing development work. He pointed to specific examples where cross-sectoral collaboration made previously impossible outcomes possible, including the reduction of antiretroviral drug costs and the creation of new agricultural input markets.

Speakers from YouTube, Human Rights Watch and AllAfrica spoke about the importance of both new and old media, and how a blend of both is critical to holding our governments and businesses accountable, and also in allowing individuals to create their own truths.

Former Prime Minister Tony Blair encouraged the GPF community of philanthropists and social investors to be bold in their leadership -- to be creative not passive, to seek to disrupt, and to step into the areas where government is too fearful or risk averse to go. World Bank President Robert Zoellick picked up on Blair's theme of innovation in philanthropy during his remarks at the Conrad N. Hilton Humanitarian Prize dinner last night. He closed day one by calling for a new model to connect global players -- a "modern multilateralism" -- to bring together international institutions, individual countries, civil society and the private sector for social good.

Watch highlights from yesterday's sessions here, and be sure to check out the livestream of GPF sessions on our website, and all of our GPF video archives at philanthropyforum.org/video.