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Tuesday, April 10, 2018

2018 Skoll World Forum Opening Plenary

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Session Description

In a world transformed by immediate digital connectivity, physical nearness—proximity—has never been more critical to crafting solutions and creating lasting social change. As we gather as a community, we’ll explore the tremendous power of proximity in our work. Through this lens, we’ll consider lessons from the past that may illuminate a course to a more peaceful, prosperous, and just future. LADAMA, a musical ensemble of women from the Americas who use their art to address gender inequality and celebrate humanity, joins us for a Pan-American performance.

Stephan Chambers, Director, Marshall Institute, London School of Economics
Jess Search, Chief Executive, Doc Society

Bryan Stevenson, Executive Director, Equal Justice Initiative
Christiana Figueres, Convenor, Mission 2020 & Former Executive Secretary, UNFCCC
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, UN Women Executive Director
Tara Houska, National Campaigns Director, Honor the Earth

Jimmy Carter

Darius Simpson, Poet

Doors open at 3:30pm. Seating is general admission.

Plenaries are free for Skoll World Forum delegates, and no additional ticket is necessary. Members of the general public can purchase tickets in advance here.

When | Where

4:00 PM - 6:00 PM Tuesday, April 10 New Theatre



Session leaders

  • Jess Search Moderator
    Chief Executive, Doc Society
    Board member of Marie Stopes International and Kickstarter. Chief Executive of Doc Society (formerly BRITDOC) Doc Society gives funding and support to Oscar nominated documentaries such as CITIZENFOUR, Virunga, Whose Streets, Hooligan Sparrow, The Square and The Look of Silence. Doc Society is well known for backing films with a social change potential and training filmmakers and Impact Producers to devise and deliver engagement campaigns ( In partnership with the Ford Foundation and The Sundance Institute, Doc Society created and runs The Good Pitch which partners films with NGOs, foundations and brands. Events take place around the world - India, Colombia, Indonesia, Argentina, Australia, Kenya and across the US and Europe. Next stop Amsterdam and Detroit.
  • Jimmy Carter Speaker
    Jimmy Carter was born in rural Georgia in 1924 to a farmer/businessman and a registered nurse. Most of Carter’s childhood neighbors were poor African-Americans, and though his father supported segregation, many of Carter’s friends were the children of black farmhands. Early on, he learned of marginalization and unjust distribution of resources. He attended public schools and graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy, rose to the rank of lieutenant, and served as senior officer of the pre-commissioning crew of the second nuclear submarine. After his father’s death, Carter returned to Georgia to run the family farm and business, and quickly became a community leader. He served in state politics and, as Georgia’s governor, advocated for civil rights. In 1977 he became the 39th president of the United States. He helmed peace treaties in the Middle East, crafted significant environmental protections, and created a new Department of Education. He opened the Carter Center in 1982 to resolve conflict, promote democracy, protect human rights, and prevent disease. The Center spearheaded the international effort to eradicate Guinea worm disease—poised to be the second human disease eradicated in history. Every year since 1984, Carter has volunteered a week with Habitat for Humanity, building and repairing thousands of homes in 14 countries. He has authored 31 books, ranging from personal history and fiction, to urgent polemics and poetry. As a clarion voice for the disenfranchised, he won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2002. In recent years he has turned his keen and compassionate eye to what he calls the number one human rights abuse: systematic injustice against women and girls. “Women are key agents of the change we need,” he said recently. “When half the world’s population is not consulted on important decisions and policies, it is no wonder that so many problems persist.”
  • UN Women Executive Director, United Nations
    Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka is United Nations Under-Secretary-General and Executive Director of UN Women. She was sworn into office on 19 August 2013 and brings a wealth of experience and expertise to this position, having devoted her career to issues of human rights, equality and social justice. Ms. Mlambo-Ngcuka has worked in government and civil society, and with the private sector, and was actively involved in the struggle to end apartheid in her home country of South Africa. From 2005 to 2008, she served as Deputy President of South Africa, overseeing programmes to combat poverty and bring the advantages of a growing economy to the poor, with a particular focus on women. Prior to this, she served as Minister of Minerals and Energy from 1999 to 2005 and Deputy Minister in the Department of Trade and Industry from 1996 to 1999. She was a Member of Parliament from 1994 to 1996 as part of South Africa’s first democratic government. Ms. Mlambo-Ngcuka began her career as a teacher and gained international experience as a coordinator at the World YWCA in Geneva, where she established a global programme for young women. She is the founder of the Umlambo Foundation, which supports leadership and education. A longtime champion of women’s rights, she is affiliated with several organizations devoted to education, women’s empowerment and gender equality. She has completed her PhD on education and technology at the University of Warwick, United Kingdom.
  • Tara Houska Speaker
    National Campaigns Director, Honor the Earth
    Tara Houska (Couchiching First Nation Anishinaabe) is a tribal attorney, the National Campaigns Director of Honor the Earth, and a former advisor on Native American affairs to Bernie Sanders. She advocates on behalf of tribal nations at the local and federal levels on a wide range of issues impacting indigenous peoples. She spent six months on the frontlines in North Dakota fighting the Dakota Access Pipeline, and is heavily engaged in the movement to defund fossil fuels and a years-long struggle against Enbridge's Line 3 pipeline. She is a co-founder of Not Your Mascots, a non-profit committed to educating the public about the harms of stereotyping and promoting positive representation of Native Americans in the public sphere.
  • Bryan Stevenson Speaker
    Executive Director, Equal Justice Initiative
    BRYAN STEVENSON is the founder and Executive Director of the Equal Justice Initiative in Montgomery, Alabama. Mr. Stevenson is a widely acclaimed public interest lawyer who has dedicated his career to helping the poor, the incarcerated and the condemned. Under his leadership, EJI has won major legal challenges eliminating excessive and unfair sentencing, exonerating innocent death row prisoners, confronting abuse of the incarcerated and the mentally ill and aiding children prosecuted as adults. EJI recently won an historic ruling in the U.S. Supreme Court holding that mandatory life-without-parole sentences for all children 17 or younger are unconstitutional. Mr. Stevenson’s work fighting poverty and challenging racial discrimination in the criminal justice system has won him numerous awards. He is a graduate of the Harvard Law School and the Harvard School of Government, and has been awarded 29 honorary doctorate degrees. He is the author of award winning and New York Times bestseller, Just Mercy. In 2015, he was named to the Time 100 recognizing the world’s most influential people. He was named in Fortune’s 2016 and 2017 World’s Greatest Leaders list. In 2018, EJI will open a new museum called “The Legacy Museum: From Enslavement to Mass Incarceration” built on the site of a former slave warehouse in downtown Montgomery Alabama. This will be a companion to a national memorial to victims of lynching called “The National Memorial for Peace and Justice” which will also open in 2018.
  • Convenor, Mission 2020
    Christiana Figueres is a world authority on global climate change and was the Executive Secretary of the UNFCCC from 2010-2016. Ms. Figueres is currently Vice-Chair of the Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate and Energy, ClimateWorks Board Member, World Bank Climate Leader, Senior Fellow for Conservation International, ACCIONA Board Member, The B Team Leader, WRI Board Member, Economic Council member for the Rockefeller Foundation Economic Council on Planetary Health, Leadership Council Member for The Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves, and Mission2020 Convenor. During her tenure at the UNFCCC Ms. Figueres brought together national and sub-national governments, corporations and activists, financial institutions and communities of faith, think tanks and technology providers, NGOs and parliamentarians, to jointly deliver the historic Paris Agreement on climate change, in which 195 sovereign nations agreed on a collaborative path forward to limit future global warming to below 2C. The agreement entered into force in less than a year, breaking the record of the UN. For this achievement Ms. Figueres has been credited with forging a new brand of collaborative diplomacy. In addition to her remarkable diplomatic achievements over the past 20 years, she served as Director of Renewable Energy in the Americas (REIA) and in 1995 founded the non-profit Center for Sustainable Development of the Americas (CSDA), which she directed for eight years.
  • Darius Simpson Performer
    Poet, Individual
    Darius Simpson is an award-winning spoken word artist, writer, proud wearer of crocs, and social justice activist born in Akron, Ohio. He received his bachelor's degree in Political Science from Eastern Michigan University. During his time there, as a coach and participant, he led the EMU slam poetry team to consecutive championships at the College Unions Poetry Slam Invitational (CUPSI). He uses poetry as a tool with which to heal, inform, and challenge his audience in their awareness of social, political, and economic oppression. Darius is featured as a protagonist in the film Finding the Gold Within, a documentary by Karina Epperlein on what it means to be a young black male in America. He has appeared on a wide array of stages and including ABC News (WXYZ-TV), University of Akron's Black Male Summit, TEDxDetroit, and Pacifica Graduate Institute. He has also been featured in online publications such as Huffington Post, Mic, Odyssey, and Worldstar Hip Hop. His work has been promoted by Hollywood stars such as Ashton Kutcher and Kerry Washington. Darius aims to leave his listeners feeling more equipped and inspired to speak to their own perspectives in any form they feel most drawn to. By intertwining personal narratives of life experience, humor, and historical events, he brings an invaluable and authentic voice to his poetry.
  • Stephan Chambers Moderator
    Director, London School of Economics
    Stephan Chambers is the inaugural director of the Marshall Institute at the London School of Economics and Political Science. He is the co-founder of the Skoll World Forum and was chair of the Skoll Centre for Social Entrepreneurship, Director of International Strategy at Oxford’s Saїd Business School, and Senior Research Fellow at Lincoln College Oxford. Currently He sits on the advisory board of Princeton University Press and is a director of the Britdoc Foundation, the Dartington Trust, the University of the People, and the Dragon School. He wrote a regular Entrepreneurship column for the Financial Times. In 2014 he was special advisor to Larry Brilliant and Jeff Skoll at the Skoll Global Threats Fund in California. He teaches entrepreneurship, social entrepreneurship, venture capital, and entrepreneurial finance.