Civil Society to Partner with World Economic Forum to Launch Platform for Social Sector Transformation

23 Jan 2019

Oliver Cann, Head of Strategic Communications, World Economic Forum: Tel.: +41 (0)79 799 3405; Email:

· The World Economic Forum today launches an initiative aimed at helping civil society prepare for and respond to the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

· The civil society sector, which engages 350 million people worldwide, faces problems in leveraging innovation and providing solutions to challenges created by technological transformation.

· In addition to participation from more than 25 organizations, Pact and the Children’s Investment Fund Foundation have committed financial support and resources to the platform.

· The launch is accompanied by the publication of a white paper, Civil Society in the Fourth Industrial Revolution: Preparation and Response

· For more information on our Annual Meeting, please visit

Davos-Klosters, Switzerland, 23 January 2019 – An initiative aimed at helping civil society prepare for transformation caused by the Fourth Industrial Revolution was launched today by the World Economic Forum.

The three-year initiative, Preparing Civil Society for the Fourth Industrial Revolution, will seek to identify clear roles, responsibilities, strategies and skills to enable the social sector to transform itself as it aligns and responds to new societal and technological challenges.

The move is aimed at accelerating change and will support the transition of a sector that employs more than 350 million people worldwide and spends $2.2 trillion each year. Like all other areas of society and the economy, it has however come under increasing strain from the disruptions caused by rapid technological change.

“The world needs a vibrant, engaged and well-resourced civil society to grasp the opportunities and manage the challenges of the Fourth Industrial Revolution. Civil society organizations have the power and passion to help us shape a human-centred future, and it is essential that all sectors work to support them in doing so,” said Nicholas Davis, Head of Society and Innovation at the World Economic Forum.

The initiative is receiving support from Pact and the Children’s Investment Fund Foundation who have committed resources to the development of this platform.

The primary goal of the initiative will be to build a coalition of non-profit associations, donors, and public and private-sector partners committed to the sector’s reform. Using the initiative as a platform, this coalition will contribute to seven working groups, each of which will be set up in 2019. They will be tasked with launching pilot phases and working with stakeholders to implement scalable solutions in the latter stages of the initiative’s lifetime.

The seven working groups are:

· Minimizing Trade-offs in Technology for Good

· Responsible Digital Transformation for Social Impact

· Group Data and Human Rights

· Future of Trustworthy Advocacy and Ethical Technology

· Practical Digital Security Support for Civil Society

· The Future of Non-profit Work, Talent and Skills

· Future Civil Society: New Organizations, Models and Dynamics in the Fourth Industrial Revolution

Accompanying the launch of the initiative, the Forum today also publishes a white paper, Civil Society in the Fourth Industrial Revolution: Preparation and Response. Informed by the findings of various social sector experts and practitioners and published in collaboration with Pact, the paper maps out the civil society innovation landscape, highlights how civil society organizations are responding to it, and critically assesses how the sector uses digital and emerging technologies.

The views from social sector leaders

“Digital and emerging technologies will shape the future of society. They must be harnessed for good. Protecting individuals, and children in particular, will require civil society to deepen their understanding and democratize their use.” Kate Hampton, the Children's Investment Fund Foundation (CIFF)

“Civil society typically adapts by substitution. Just as in the past, society needs new organizations within civil society capable of creating new forms of change and influencing industry. These may not look like organizations that exist today.” David Sasaki, The Hewlett Foundation.

“We need to move from the project-based view of the world to a platform-based view – in which development organizations are creating the kind of platforms that involve other stakeholders to tackle global challenges.” Mark Viso, Pact

“Non-profits have hit a barrier in transitioning from being simply users of technology to digital organizations. Becoming a digital organization will require concerted effort and shared intelligence; working together results in cost savings for organizations that want to do it right.” Lauren Woodman, NetHope

“Our dependence on digital data and infrastructure expands both the options for civil action and the levers and forces by which it can be restricted.” Lucy Bernholz, Stanford Digital Civil Society Lab

Notes to editors:

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All opinions expressed are those of the author. The World Economic Forum Blog is an independent and neutral platform dedicated to generating debate around the key topics that shape global, regional and industry agendas.

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