WOMEN’S FORUM SPECIAL REPORTS
An ongoing series of articles highlighting upcoming topics and topical outcomes from Women’s Forum events around the world
Energizing the World!
The 2015 Women’s Forum Global Meeting, taking place 14-16 October in Deauville, France, will explore the theme Energizing the World! through three agenda streams: “Addressing vital needs”, “Crafting the future”, and “Creative fires”. In preparation for our discussions in Deauville, the latest series of Women’s Forum Special Reports, available here on the Women’s Forum website, will focus on each of these three areas.
Part 1: Addressing Vital Needs
While certain international conferences and even some philanthropic organisations have been perceived as serving the interests of a privileged few, the Women’s Forum for the Economy and Society has succeeded with a balanced approach and a mission tailored for the broadest possible audience. Since our first meeting 11 years ago in Deauville, France, the Women’s Forum has been an all-inclusive platform, a sounding board for audacious, influential trailblazers – people from all levels of society, from all countries, from all sectors, women along with men.
The Women’s Forum is about doing business, yes. Top-tier speakers, can’t-miss debates, and endless opportunities for networking have made Women’s Forum events a mainstay on the international conference calendar. And yet our interests and ambitions carry us out beyond the market briefs and executive summaries, past the usual speeches on motivation and productivity delivered at the usual business seminars. The Women’s Forum is about nothing less than “building the future with women’s vision”, and the benefits in that future will not be restricted to any particular business community or even any particular gender.
Addressing vital needs is the title of one of our three agenda streams at our upcoming 2015 Women’s Forum Global Meeting (14-16 October in Deauville). This means that a full third of our programme will be dedicated to investigating ways to improve basic access to housing, healthcare, education, energy and nutrition (food and water), not only for women but for everyone around the world.
We’ll hear from some amazing women (and men), and we can expect to learn a few things, too. For example, many of us share the conviction that technology is the yellow brick road that will inevitably lead to the end of poverty as we know it. It’s only a matter of time, right? Yet considering how much of technological innovation today is targeted to the world’s wealthiest populations, those who are neediest are likely to remain on the waiting list. At Deauville we’ll meet some of the people who are using technology to battle poverty head-on, developing tools and applications that don’t depend on trickle-down to reach the world’s poor here and now.
As was the case at the recent Women’s Forum Italy in June, we’ll focus not only on problems but also on workable solutions where women can make and are making all the difference. We’ll see how women’s knowledge and concerted efforts are enhancing resource productivity, aiding in the conservation of ecosystems, and improving nutrition for men, women and children in all geographies and at all income levels.
We’ll also consider some intriguing solutions to increase access to affordable housing, even while our cities continue to gentrify and our urban populations continue to expand. And then there’s the good news from the agri-tech sector.
In a prophetic 2001 paper entitled Feeding the World in the 21st Century, Nobel Laureate Norman Borlaug wrote, “The majority of agricultural scientists, including myself, anticipate great benefits from biotechnology in the coming decades to help meet our future needs for food and fibre.”
In the last two decades, biotech has met with considerable opposition with regard to recombinant-DNA transgenic crops, commonly known as genetically modified organisms (GMOs). Concerns have been raised not only about the safety of GMOs but also about who controls and profits from them.
And yet the GMO debate tends to obfuscate the fact that agriculture has been undergoing a profound transformation through technology. With the planet’s population due to hit 9 billion by 2050, we will need to increase global food production by an estimated 70% by 2050. Proponents of so-called “agri-tech” champion the role that the science and technology industries can play and are playing in the global race to increase food production, minimise waste and improve the environment.