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New Year Message from SNF Co-President Andreas Dracopoulos

Jan 04, 2024

We know that good news is never inevitable, but rather is the result of hard work and careful planning by people championing positive change, and we look back on the past year filled with gratitude for the efforts of our wonderful partners all around the world to promote wellbeing, inclusion, dignity, and opportunity for all.

As we look to the year ahead, much of our focus will be on health and civics, on taking care of our bodies and our body politic, our mental health and our civic frame of mind.

We’re thinking not only about the year ahead, however, but the years ahead, because solutions to the biggest problems we collectively face are sometimes a matter of decades rather than days: coordinating to proactively combat infectious diseases globally, sustainable development that prioritizes the environment, the role of the fourth estate in healthy democracies, bridging gaps in mental health care for young people worldwide, addressing global food insecurity exacerbated by war and disaster, pioneering new solutions to tackle previously intractable health issues, fostering platforms for productive public discourse and hubs for civic engagement from Maryland to Delaware to Pennsylvania to Illinois.

Breathtaking advances in AI have left no doubt that, for better and for worse, we’re at the dawn of a new era in technology, one that will also test our limitations as humans. The outlook, while certainly thrilling and exciting, is at the same time deeply worrying. While new AI technology holds promise for amazing upsides in fields like health and scientific research, as well as daily life, the perhaps existential question is whether we collectively—human society—will be able to manage the downsides and avoid potentially catastrophic collateral damage. Can we, together, do enough to fully embrace the opportunities while at the same time successfully managing the challenge presented? Can we maintain our humanity at large?

Though we need to think with long time horizons, we also feel the urgency of acting with alacrity. Here are three things we’re focusing on right out of the gate in 2024:

  1. Health: The excavators clearing ground as work begins on three new SNF public hospitals in Greece are the most prominent sign of progress in our Global Health Initiative (GHI), but exciting developments in expanding access to quality physical and mental health care are taking place daily in collaboration with our partners, leading institutions with global reach based in New York and organizations spearheading local and regional excellence from Tygerberg, South Africa, to Amman, Jordan, and far beyond. 2024 begins with an important milestone: the 10-year anniversary of the Mobile Medical Units, which offer free screenings and care to people living in remote areas around Greece and whose approach to democratizing access to care helped sow the seeds for our GHI.
  2. Civics: Politics are top of mind this year, but more fundamentally, civics are about how we relate to each other as humans and what we owe one another as citizens. It’s about making sure we all are properly informed and educated to be able to engage meaningfully. Through a multitude of excellent partnerships and our own outreach initiatives, we’re diving deeper into questions at the heart of how we can live together in a more just and equitable society to promote healthy and productive dialogue on topics from combatting climate change to safeguarding democracy.
  3. Building bridges: SNF’s role has always been as a hopeful connector. In the face of division and privation, we seek to connect people with each other, with ideas and knowledge, and with the resources every one of us needs to thrive. With each passing year, our role as collaborator, convener, and constructor of bridges becomes more central to our mission. Amplifying the voices of young people, who have incredible ideas and energy but little institutional power, is a special focus for us.

From all of us at the Stavros Niarchos Foundation (SNF), warmest wishes to you and yours for a healthy, peaceful year to come.

Happy New Year!

Andreas Dracopoulos