April 30, 2018

Experts Gathered in Moscow to Explore the Future of Social Impact

Marguerite Barankitse, Veronika Zonabend and many others shared their insights at SKOLKOVO

“The Future of Impact” event, organized on April 26 by the Aurora Humanitarian Initiative, PHILIN, and Moscow School of Management SKOLKOVO, brought together distinguished humanitarians as part of the additional international Aurora Dialogues. The conference, held in Russia for the first time, pondered the issue of social transformations from different perspectives.

The 2018 Aurora Dialogues Moscow began with welcome address from Harout Chitilian, Aurora’s next CEO, who spoke of the Aurora Initiative’s activities. He also explained the logic behind choosing Moscow as the Dialogues’ host city: “Today is a very important event for us, as this is the first official function of the Aurora Dialogues here, in Moscow, Russia. Knowing how deeply rooted the Aurora Co-Founder Ruben Vardanyan and his wife, Veronika Zonabend, are in the Russian community, this was long due.”

After that the participants were greeted by the 2016 Aurora Laureate Marguerite Barankitse, founder or Maison Shalom and REMA hospital in Burundi, who went on to thank the Aurora Humanitarian Initiative and shared her personal story with the audience: “Maison Shalom was my answer to the war. When I decided to open Maison Shalom, people thought I was crazy. And I said, we need craziness like that.”

Her remarks were followed by the opening panel. Dedicated to the targets and indicators of impact, it featured Vladimir Kuznetsov, Director of the UN Information Centre in Moscow, and Igor Zadorin, Founder and Head of the ZIRCON Research Group. Kuznetsov, a Russian diplomat who has been working closely with the UN since 2008, talked about the UN Sustainable Development Goals and highlighted the importance of acknowledging progress even where a certain goal might not have been quite reached yet: “Take the “Zero Hunger” goal, for instance. It’s not yet time to celebrate complete victory, but proportionally speaking, a lot has been done and many more people are now receiving food aid”. Igor Zadorin has listed the most important questions that are typically asked regarding happiness as an indicator of impact: “The three main questions for impactors are “Who is to blame? What is to be done? And the third one, which is always a little bit in the background – why should we bother?”

Following the opening panel, Leonid Grigoryev, Head of World Economics Department of NRU HSE, Oksana Oracheva, General Director of the Vladimir Potanin Foundation, and Veronika Zonabend, Founding Partner and the Chair of the Board of Governors of UWC Dilijan College in Armenia, took part in a discussion titled “The Future We Want”, which addressed the gaps and distortions existing between the ideal future, individual needs and the doers working to make an impact.

“We are living in times of transformations. This is the era of a perfect storm. There are numerous technological breakthroughs. How do people react? The new technology leads us to unite, but on a systemic level we see separation. People are trying, on the contrary, to isolate themselves”, said Veronika Zonabend, highlighting the fact that some of the modern trends may be quite dangerous.

Following Moscow, the next Aurora Dialogues will take place in Yerevan this June as part of a weekend of events culminating in the presentation of the 2018 Aurora Prize for Awakening Humanity – a $1 million award honoring those who risk themselves for the benefit of others, founded on behalf of the survivors of the Armenian Genocide and in gratitude to their saviors. The names of three 2018 Aurora Humanitarians were announced on April 24, 2018.  They are: Kyaw Hla Aung, Lawyer and Rohingya Leader, Myanmar; Fr. Héctor Tomás González Castillo, Founder of La 72, Mexico, and Mrs. Sunitha Krishnan, Co-Founder of Prajwala, India.  

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