Technology and Social Justice: Partnering with Civil Society in the Fourth Industrial Revolution

The Challenge

Inequality and technology: Growing public backlash against technology, disruptions from numerous crises - including the COVID-19 pandemic - and new digital threats to already-vulnerable populations are all signs of a rapidly unequal Fourth Industrial Revolution.

Civil society's needed roles: As technology impacts society, the need for local expertise, participatory approaches and integrated response from civil society - including humanitarian, development, advocacy, human rights and others - has become increasingly apparent.

Stakeholder responsibility: In an age of increased transparency and unprecedented commitments to racial and social and social justice, a broader set of stakeholders from industry, philanthropy and government recognize that building a just and cohesive world amid fast-paced technology change requires stronger engagement with people, communities and organizations in civil society. For many decision-makers and leaders, it's no longer "why" but "how" to involve civil society and citizens in the governance of technologies that impact everyone.

How can leaders from industry, philanthropy, academia and government strategically engage with civil society in their development, deployment, use and governance of technology? What partnership models, evidence and levels of trust are needed to accelerate broader civil society engagement with technology in key areas and affect organisational change for ready and responsive civil societies in the Fourth Industrial Revolution?

The Opportunity

The Partnering with Civil Society in the Fourth Industrial Revolution Initiative is a multi-stakeholder platform for driving stakeholder responsibility for social justice in the Fourth Industrial Revolution, through collective action and systems change interventions with civil society on the design, deployment, use and governance of technology.

Co-led by the Forum and its Champions for Technology and Social Justice, the initiative works to build and accelerate multi-stakeholder coalitions, strategic intelligence and prototypes for collective action, in order to drive the adoption of participatory and inclusive approaches to technology governance, digital infrastructure and digital capacity building.

Launched in 2019, the initiative focuses on three areas to identify, pilot and scale up new partnership models for engaging the world’s nonprofits on technology in the decade of delivery:

Design: Embedding accountability, local expertise, and co-partnership in the design, deployment and governance of your technology products and protocols

Evidence: Identifying where digital and emerging technologies directly and indirectly accelerate inequalities in your ecosystems; and

Investment: Investing in sustainable infrastructure for digitally-enabled civil societies and long-term, scalable social change

Through collaborative projects and initiatives, the Initiative’s community of Champions for Technology and Social Justice are tackling these three priority challenges in 2020-2021:

For more information and to get involved, please contact David Sangokoya, Project Lead, Society and Innovation, at


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