How Civil Society Is Embracing The Fourth Industrial Revolution To Accelerate Change

30 Apr 2019

Aylin Elci, Communications Officer, World Economic Forum: Tel.: +41 75 404 10 95; Email:

Despite challenging roles, growing tensions and competition for funding, some civil society organizations are pioneering the use of digital and emerging technologies to improve their impact in the Fourth Industrial Revolution

Knowledge sharing and partnerships between philanthropy, industry, government and other stakeholders is accelerating civil society’s readiness

To revolutionize the Fourth Industrial Revolution, all civil society stakeholders need to go deeper and embrace digital further

The World Economic Forum’s white paper celebrates innovators and highlights how the sector can thrive. For more information, read the report here

Geneva, Switzerland, 30 April 2019 – As substantial shifts take place in the Fourth Industrial Revolution, civil society is uncovering innovative tools to fulfil its multiple roles and benefit the public. From advocates, to solidarity supporters, to definer of standards, civil society organizations have been forging their own path for strategic change and digital readiness.

The World Economic Forum’s white paper, Civil Society in the Fourth Industrial Revolution: Preparation and Response, highlights how civil society’s pioneers have integrated the tools of the Fourth Industrial Revolution to improve impact and efficiency in understanding the communities they serve, providing precision services, communicating effectively to stakeholders, tracking data as evidence and influencing decision-making.

The collection of examples includes: an initiative for individually measured prosthetics, which are 3D printed by Handicap International; Amnesty Decoders enlisting volunteers from around the world to tag data that is often evidence of human rights violations; the International Rescue Committee (IRC) Placement Algorithm, which determines ahead of their placement the environment in which refugees will thrive most; and the Digital Defenders Partnership, which provides emergency support to individuals and organizations facing digital attacks

Drawing on interviews, workshops and consultations with civil society leaders, the paper also maps out the sector’s opportunities and challenges. These include: little human capital, digital capacity and donor support while trying to play a diversity of roles; responsibly using digital technologies; and cross-sector partnering.

“Civil society organizations have always been historical innovators. With a very demanding change agenda ahead, it’s essential that the entire sector, rather than just the early adopters, keep pace with the societal and technological transformations of the Fourth Industrial Revolution,” said Silvia Magnoni, Head of Civil Society Communities, World Economic Forum.

With slightly more than 10 years to achieve the 2030 agenda for the Sustainable Development Goals, the World Economic Forum seeks to accelerate change in the civil society sector to support its transformation. At its Annual Meeting 2019 in Davos-Klosters, the World Economic Forum launched the initiative, Preparing Civil Society for the Fourth Industrial Revolution, to create a platform of multistakeholder actors ready to cooperate, share insights and identify critical investments and innovation opportunities for civil society.

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