A Year of New Frontiers and Tough Choices

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Oct 29, 2020
by Clare Shine
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A Year of New Frontiers and Tough Choices

In a message to Salzburg Global Fellows and supporters, Vice President and Chief Program Officer, Clare Shine, reflects on 2020 and Salzburg Global's radical reinvention Clare Shine takes part in a Zoom call during one of this year's online programs

Dear Friends,

What a year it has been for everyone....

Normally we’d be deep in programs at Schloss Leopoldskron, watching the leaves fall and the first snows arrive. Instead, Austria and her neighbors are facing ever tighter restrictions to curb the pandemic, the United States is facing political and social strife unseen in decades - and the world remains on edge for what may come next.

We went into 2020 ready to launch our boldest-ever projects and partnerships in Salzburg and across the planet. As the virus took hold, we started to realize that international travel was off the cards – and would remain so. It was devastating after collaborating for months and years on major new initiatives.

And so we began the task of radical reinvention. What could network design and collaboration look and feel like in a fully-virtual world? How could we forge community in a period of trauma and converging crises? Could we still spark ideas and alliances for lasting impact and influence?

Those doubts are mostly behind us. I have never been prouder of my colleagues for how they have mapped pathways out of crisis, true to the spirit of our founding in 1947 and to our mission to challenge current and future leaders to shape a better world.

The last six months have been a period of intense online innovation, engaging thousands of new Fellows from around the world on issues of global concern. Examples include:

  • Education Disrupted, Education Reimagined”: a six-month partnership with the World Innovation Summit for Education addressing the unparalleled impacts of Covid-19 on education around the world. Strategies for recovery and systems reform were presented in a special e-book launched alongside the virtual United Nations General Assembly in September.
  • Exploring crisis response and effective leadership, and how companies should tackle both the distinct issues and converging risks around income inequality, COVID-19, climate change, and broader issues of systemic inequality at the 2020 virtual meeting of the Salzburg Global Corporate Governance Forum, "Putting Directors to the Test: How Does Leadership Measure Up in a Time of Crisis?"
  • A new partnership with the Global Alliance for the Future of Food, focused on the Climate Emergency and the Future of Food.
  • Webinars on health sector leadership and practical responses to the pandemic, bringing together European members of the Sciana-Health Leaders Network.
  • A new multi-year initiative on “What Future for Democracy”, launching the next phase of our legendary American Studies Program.
  • Creating a brand-new regional network of Asia Peace Innovators, who meet online twice a month to discuss best practices across sectors so as to shape long-term peace, stability, and regional cooperation.
  • Transforming our Young Cultural Innovators Forum into a creator-led global platform to support individual artists and practitioners and advance the role of the cultural sector in regenerating and energizing societies.

These and other examples share a common aim: to provide all our Fellows with an open platform for candid dialogue and trust-building. We have stuck to our famous mantra – “be tough on the issues and kind on each other”.

In that spirit, we created Designs on the Future to focus on emergent challenges and inform our programs, networks and impact far into the future. Already we have featured Salzburg Global Fellows Stacey Abrams, US politician and voting rights activist, and La June Montgomery Tabron, President & CEO of the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, to address urgent social issues for communities across the globe.

We’ve learned so much and are hugely grateful to our Fellows, partners and staff for their many contributions. However, it has still been a very tough year.

As many of you know, the non-profit sector has been impacted particularly hard by the economic fallout from the pandemic. The combination of program adaptations, cancellations, and hotel closures has seriously damaged our financial outlook for 2020 and 2021.

For 73 years, Salzburg Global has inspired ideas, individuals and institutions across borders. We refuse to let this virus stop us now.

Our work is funded by grants, fees, and individual gifts. Now more than ever, we need everybody who values our work to step forward and support our programs and networks in whatever way they can. Thank you so much for any help that you can provide here.

We look forward to writing the future history of Salzburg Global with you for the months and years to come. Please stay safe and healthy in the meantime.