2017 GPC Members Meeting: Breakout Sessions

Syrian Refugee Crisis: Refugee Migration and Cross-Border Collaboration

Moderator: Sasha Chanoff, Co-Founder and Executive Director, RefugePoint
GPC Contact: Melissa Durda, mdurda@synergos.org

This meeting of the GPC Affinity Group on the Refugee Crisis brought like-minded members together to learn from Sasha Chanoff, co-founder of the nonprofit organization RefugePoint. RefugePoint identifies and protects refugees who have fallen through the cracks of humanitarian assistance and have no other options for survival. Its regional focus is Sub-Saharan Africa. During the session, Sasha highlighted the following points.

Key challenges in humanitarian response:

  • There are more people displaced than at any time since World War II, over 65 million, among which approximately 22 million have crossed an international border and are refugees. The majority are displaced within their own countries.
  • The refugee response regime is no longer fit for purpose. Short-term emergency aid predicated on the idea that people will return home is incongruous with the needs and aspirations of refugees. The average amount of time many live as refugees has neared 20 years recently.
  • More than 50% of the world’s refugees now reside in urban areas. We need new strategies to address the needs of those in urban areas.
  • Growing xenophobia in many countries, as well as growing challenges in the face of the vast numbers of refugees in host countries such as Lebanon and Turkey call for dedicated attention and increased support.

What to do:

  • The international humanitarian community must complement short-term emergency aid with new ways of supporting refugees to integrate into their countries of asylum. Promoting self-reliance for refugees is a necessary new dimension of humanitarian response. This includes expanding education and employment and livelihoods opportunities in countries of asylum.
  • Humanitarian response must also incorporate support to local communities that are hosting refugees.
  • The international community must continue to create and expand pathways for formal and legal migration, including resettlement (the permanent and legal migration of refugees from host countries to a receiving country such as the US, Canada, Australia), and others opportunities such as through labor and education mobility.
  • Explorations of increased business engagement and technology platforms can push efforts to provide sustainable solutions.



Impact Investing: New Approaches to Social Finance and Impact Investing

Moderators: John Fullerton, Founder and President of the Capital Institute, and Ron Cordes, Co-Founder of the Cordes Foundation
GPC Contact: Shannon St. John, sstjohn@synergos.org

This session brought together GPC members interested in using the power of markets and the tools of investing as levers for sustainable social impact at scale. The conversation included experts in social finance as well as those curious to learn about new approaches and opportunities. Guests John Fullerton and Ron Cordes discussed their frameworks and experiences and led group discussion.



Shifting the Food System: Food as a Catalyst for Social and Environmental Change

Moderators: Jacob Israelow, GPC Member and Founder, Dirt Capital; Lindsey Lusher Shute, Co-Founder and Executive Director, National Young Farmers Coalition & Hearty Roots Community Farm; and Loren Cardeli, Founder and President, A Growing Culture
GPC Contact: Marieke Spence, mspence@synergos.org

Twenty-two members and friends convened for this breakout, to discuss topics like access to direct markets, which is critical to farmer success, and the Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) model in the US. Others posed questions:

  • How do we capitalize on the ingenuity of smallholder farmers?
  • Can we turn back the clock and de-centralize agriculture?
  • How do we address issues like corruption in system?
  • How do we reduce the risk for farmers?

Other barriers to entry were raised, such as land prices and access. Moderators noted the challenge of an aging farmer demographic both in the US and around the world; in America the average age of a farmer is 58, in Africa it hovers around 60. This is a critical concern when smallholder farmers produce more than 70% of the world’s food.

Participants agreed that an important next step is to identify stakeholders across all points along the food system spectrum and create opportunities for the GPC to engage with them (in a variety of meeting formats including events, retreats, and virtual gatherings), to better understand diverse perspectives and incentives. These voices include but are not limited to: consumers, farmers big and small, policymakers, ecologists, nutritionists, health scientists, corporate food interests, chefs, economists, and others.



Storytelling for Impact

Moderators: Molly Bingham, GPC Member and Founder and CEO, Orb Media, and Christina Lowery, CEO, Girl Rising
GPC Contact: Kate Czarniak, kczarniak@synergos.org

Evolution has wired our brains to respond to storytelling. In this session, members and friends heard from two practitioners who use the craft and power of storytelling and narrative to communicate new ideas to the world, fully engage stakeholders, and move them to action.