Approximately 20 thematic discussions and speeches took place during the Conference. The Stavros Niarchos Foundation –with significant contributions by almost 90 Greek and foreign speakers- focused on three key areas, relating to issues which concern both the Greek society and the global community:
1. Recharging the Youth: The phenomenon of youth unemployment and the initiatives for creating new opportunities for the younger generations
2. Philanthropy and Ethics
3. Arts and Culture: Creative Assets and their economic and social significance
The Conference was officially opened by the Co-President of the Stavros Niarchos Foundation, Mr. Andreas Dracopoulos, who said the following: When two years ago we held the conference for the first time, many of us thought that it was going to be a one-time occasion. The conference occurred at a time when Greece and a number of other European nations were under the grip of a severe socioeconomic crisis, and it was motivated by a desire and need to discuss and debate the role of philanthropic institutions during such troubling circumstances. That inaugural conference provided us with a message about the need to continue the dialogue and the debate, since all of us are constantly trying to address multiple and complex issues. It also highlighted the importance of networking and providing grantees with an opportunity to share ideas and best practices, leading to the conference becoming an annual international gathering. This year’s themes—youth unemployment, ethics and philanthropy, and creative assets as engines of prosperity and growth—are indicative of the conference’s continuing evolution into a forum for debating contemporary, critical issues. At a first glance, one may argue that the three themes are rather disparate, but there is a common thread running through all three of them. The conference’s middle theme, philanthropy and ethics, anchors the other two and raises a number of critical questions that should occupy us these two days. How do you address youth unemployment at a scale that makes a meaningful impact? If efforts focus on training educated young people and providing them with skills to match sectorial needs, how do you help impoverished and rather uneducated young people? Why do we focus on young instead of old people, who are more vulnerable? To whom we give, how much and for what reason? How does one negotiate the common ground where private, public and philanthropic interests intersect? How do you navigate providing support within a corrupt landscape? Is art and culture a priority during times of extreme social and economic duress? Who determines policy and does philanthropy reserve the right to do so? These are just few out of many questions that all of us ought to be asking ourselves. All of us in the philanthropic world, whether in the receiving or the giving end, we are concerned with doing what is good. But as are dealing with an increasingly complex and challenging environment, we should be equally concerned with doing what is right.”
The first day of the Conference focused on the phenomenon of the alarmingly high unemployment rate among youth both in Greece, as well as globally, while presenting global initiatives that have already attempted to tackle the problem. On the same day, three new pilot programs were presented, which the Stavros Niarchos Foundation is considering for potential grants, as part of its €100 million initiative, entitled “Recharging the Youth”. The aim of this particular initiative is to design innovative programs, capable of resulting to both the creation of new employment opportunities for the young generation, and to lead to long-term social development. Specifically, the three pilot programs examined by the Foundation, aim towards the following goals:
• Promoting and supporting entrepreneurship
• Agricultural development
• The Promotion of Cultural Tourism
The first day of the Conference concluded with the input of youth representatives who are mostly affected by youth unemployment. In this context, young men and women from Greece, the United States, Middle East and North Africa shared their concerns with the audience, demonstrating their creativity and talent, both through their actions and through two short art performances.
Similarly, the second day of the Conference focused on two separate themes. The morning session addressed the issue of Philanthropy and Ethics, with participants focusing on the moral dimension of charitable initiatives, and investigating the relationship between philanthropy and public interest.
On the context of this particular theme, private initiatives with a public character were presented, aiming towards developing and strengthening society. In addition the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Center (SNFCC) was examined as an example of a cultural and educational project which has the potential to contribute to long-term growth while emphasis was also given to the value of volunteerism as a driver of social progress and change.
Respectively, the afternoon session focused on issue of Arts and Culture. Internationally renowned organizations from Greece, the rest of Europe and the United States, sought to highlight Culture as one of the most effective and creative tools for achieving social and economic prosperity.
The International Stavros Niarchos Foundation Conference on Philanthropy has become an annual institution and an important part of the Foundation’s activities, through which it seeks to address the ever-changing role and the increased importance of philanthropy in a global context and to address, with the help of internationally renowned experts, issues relating to the contemporary civil society, both nationally and globally.
Conference speakers included among others Jamie McAuliffe, President & CEO, Education for Employment, Annie Knickman, Program Director for the Youth Initiative, McKinsey & Company, Gayle Jennings-O’Byrne, Vice President–Northeast Region, JPMorgan Chase Global Philanthropy, Vasilis Papakonstantinou, Chairman, MIT Enterprise Forum Greece, Nicole Goldin, Director, Youth, Prosperity and Security Initiative, Center for Strategic and International Studies, Sir Howard Bernstein, CEO, Manchester City Council, Todd Bishop, Senior Deputy Director, External Affairs, Museum of Modern Art, Katie Dixon, Director of Special Projects, Brooklyn Academy of Music, Jennifer McCrea, Senior Research Fellow, Hauser Institute for Civil Society, Harvard Kennedy School and many more.