Highlights & updates


Martina Szabo

What COVID-19 taught 10 startups about pivoting, problem solving and tackling the unknown

Pivoting during a crisis taught these 10 startups key lessons on leveraging capabilities, moving quickly and maximizing teams.

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COVID and Ageing Society dialogues: Converging Pandemics - Loneliness and Isolation

The World Economic Forum's Global Future Council on Longevity, in collaboration with AARP and the National Academy of Medicine, has kicked-off a five-part dialogue series about COVID-19 and ageing societies. Five webinars during June and July will bring together experts from government, academia, civil society, foundations and the private sector to consider key issues faced by older adults, and highlight opportunities for action on ageing and health.

COVID-19 and Ageing Society: Part Five

Coronavirus containment measures - including confinement measures, physical distancing and restrictions on movement and social gatherings - have increased the risk for social isolation, aloneness and loneliness especially among vulnerable older adults. Social isolation and loneliness are major risk factors for poor physical and mental health.

In this fifth and final discussion of our series, panelists raised and explored the issues of loneliness, social isolation and precariousness in older adults as a result of the pandemic. They discussed the opportunities presented by technology and new innovations to remain socially connected, the role of culture and community, the unique impact on LGBTQI+ older adults, and how loneliness and social isolation impacts healthy behaviours. Moderated by Silvia Perel-Levin, Chairperson, NGO Committee on Ageing, with keynote address by Victor Dzau, President, National Academy of Medicine. Panelists included:

  • Linda P. Fried, Dean and DeLamar Professor of Public Health, Mailman School of Public Health, Columbia University
  • Kazumi Nishikawa, Director, Healthcare Industries Division, Commerce and Services Industry Policy Group, Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry, Japan
  • Patrick Aitcheson, Chief of Staff, SAGE -Advocacy & Services for LGBT Elders
  • Liz Nabakooza Kakooza, Advisory Council, World Economic Forum Global Shapers Community, Kampala Hub
  • Anna Dixon, Chief Executive, Centre for Ageing Better
Image: Sofiat Akinola, World Economic Forum

Key takeaways from the webinar included:

  • Social isolation and loneliness are two distinct phenomena. Someone who is socially isolated may not necessarily feel lonely
  • Loneliness is an experience while social isolation is about interaction. An individual can be socially connected but feel lonely due to lack of meaningful and satisfying social interactions and/or relationships
  • Loneliness doesn’t discriminate. Loneliness is experienced by people of all ages. It is a myth that everyone who is lonely is old, and that everyone who is old is lonely
  • Social connections between generations are vital, and we must remember how much older adults can contribute, instead of only seeing dynamics of support and dependency
  • The best solutions encourage social participation and connectedness, and foster a sense of belonging. We should strive for solutions that empower older adults and society at large to exchange and embody shared values
  • Virtual doesn’t mean it has to be on screen. There is a need for innovative virtual solutions that foster and encourage social participation. We must explore repurposing and reinforcing the use of simple and existing tools such as telephones, radio, TV programming and volunteering opportunities. These tools can address issues of digital access and ensure older adults have multiple options for maintaining social connections and participation

As we move through the pandemic, there are promising practices to explore to address the challenges of loneliness and social isolation during and following the COVID-19 pandemic. We need to build stronger and more resilient communities that foster greater participation and more connections, and that are inclusive of people of all ages and abilities.

New Partners, Tools, and Funds Available to Support Social Entrepreneurs

In May, we launched the COVID Response Alliance for Social Entrepreneurs to play a significant role in reducing the vulnerability of social entrepreneurs impacted by the pandemic. This month the Alliance welcomed new members including EUCLID network and UNDP SDG Impact, two organizations that are providing support to social entrepreneurs.

On 29 July, 41 leading organizations in the social entrepreneurship ecosystem convened virtually to coordinate the sector's efforts to overcome the significant impacts of COVID-19.

  • To date, over $1 trillion in emergency funds has been made available to non-profit and for-profit entrepreneurs during this crisis. However, this is largely skewed towards entrepreneurs in developed markets
  • Alliance members are currently supporting social enterprises in emerging markets. More support is still needed for the most vulnerable during and after the recovery from the pandemic
  • One example of support is Root Capital's COVID-19 Rapid Response Fund. Read more below about how they are supporting efforts to safeguard rural livelihoods and indigenous farmers from the Awajun indigenous community in Peru, together with APROCAM

Impact of Social Distancing on ASEAN Youth

In partnership with Sea Group, we've surveyed more than 68,500 young people aged between 16 - 35 in the ASEAN region, to understand how physical distancing and other COVID-19 response measures have had an impact on their lives.

ASEAN youths exhibited signs of strong resilience, adaptability and creativity. However, their potential has been limited by a lack of digital skills, inadequate and unaffordable internet connectivity, and funding shortages, particularly for those in the gig economy and for entrepreneurs.

Image: World Economic Forum

Key findings from the survey include:

  • ASEAN youths adjusted to the COVID-19 environment by significantly increasing their digital footprint – a trend that is likely to last beyond the pandemic
  • In adapting to the new environment, many ASEAN youths exhibited signs of a growth mindset, resilience and nimbleness
  • ASEAN youths faced challenges in remote working and studying during COVID-19, with lack of digital skills and inadequacy/ unavailability of quality and affordable internet connection found as the most binding constraints
  • ASEAN youths in the gig economy and entrepreneurs faced funding constraints during the pandemic and needed support
Image: World Economic Forum

Read the full report of the ASEAN Youth Survey here.

We're collecting, analyzing, and sharing practices from employers around the world for returning to the workplace safely

Arizona State University’s College of Health Solutions and the World Economic Forum, with support from The Rockefeller Foundation, have launched a Covid-19 Workplace Commons initiative, and invite employers from around the world to contribute to the effort. The initiative leverages the World Economic Forum’s platform, networks and global convening ability to collect, refine and share best practices for returning to the workplace safely as part of broader COVID-19 recovery strategies.

The Workplace Commons effort will build and deliver:

1) A set of 250 exemplary case studies of safe return to workplace practices across a variety of industries, cultures, and geographies

2) A Visual Interactive Dashboard hosted by Arizona State University that enables companies, organizations and other stakeholders to understand testing and contact tracing trends and practices by industry, geography or institution size

3) Communities of learning for companies and stakeholders who are bringing their workers back to the physical workplace - what works, and what does not?

4) Curated conversations hosted by Arizona State University's Decision Theater scenario planning facility, geared toward longer term planning for how to navigate worker safety in any pandemic

“We believe this new community and the database of current practices and lessons learned will help leaders accelerate best practices and make informed plans as the pandemic evolves.”

—Genya Dana, Head of Health Care Transformation, World Economic Forum

Contribute to the Commons by completing the survey here.

Launch of COVID-19 Global LGBTIQ Emergency Fund

A new COVID-19 Global LGBTIQ Emergency Fund has been launched to respond to the severe impact of COVID-19 on LGBTIQ communities around the world, and the inequalities it has exposed.

The Partnership for Global LGBTI Equality (PGLE), a collaborative initiative of BSR in partnership with the World Economic Forum and UN Human Rights, along with NGO OutRight Action International, established the fund with support from founding partner, Microsoft.

Contributions will support LGBTIQ organizations and groups on the frontlines of the pandemic in the global south, addressing a range of humanitarian needs such as emergency food and/or shelter, access to safe and competent healthcare, safety and security, and financial stability.

The Fund has received 1,494 applications from communities in need in 131 countries, totaling over $12 million in funding requests. So far, 90 grants have been distributed to LGBTIQ organizations in over 50 countries. Additional grants will be released as new funding becomes available, to address urgent issues such as:

  • Healthcare for LGBTIQ populations impacted by COVID-19
  • Food and housing to LGBTIQ people impacted by coronavirus
  • Emergency services for LGBTIQ survivors of domestic violence
  • Documenting spikes in homophobic and transphobic violence in this time of crisis

Learn more about the fund here.

Technology Compendium Finds Important Gaps, Outlines Hundreds of Unique Solutions to Combat COVID-19

The World Economic Forum has published a new compendium of digital tools being deployed to combat COVID-19. Its main function is to provide a better picture of the role of technology in amid a pandemic and to encourage companies around the world to replicate the efforts made elsewhere. The compendium...

  • includes 232 use cases across seven categories: information management, detection and containment, healthcare provider enablement, treatment acceleration, economic resilience, social cohesion, and cyber security
  • represents 177 unique entities that cover 41 countries and all major regions of the world
  • identified key gaps in several categories, notably for tools that foster communication and cohesion between and among individuals, corporations and institutions. It was also notable that only a third of solutions were developed jointly by several companies or as part of a public-private partnership, suggesting that standardization and interoperability challenges lie ahead
  • Found an explosion of digital solutions for virus detection and containment, and to enable healthcare providers. It was also notable how many solutions are coming from China, where companies are collaborating with the government to push the boundaries of technology.

Watch highlights from our recent discussion about real-life examples leveraging technology and data in response to COVID-19 with potential for scale:

This document is an update of the Early Compendium of Technology Responses to COVID-19 published in April 2020. It more than triples the number of solutions, providing better visibility into the diverse uses of technology for the COVID-19 response.

Check out the full compendium here.

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