Ahimsa Forum 2017: uniting the world around public health

As in previous years, the 2017 Ahimsa Forum surpassed all our expectations. But how do we measure the success of international development events like this year’s Forum? Simply by standing back and taking stock of what we’ve managed to achieve so far. Countless former projects that took shape at previous Forums are now fully operational, while many of the initiatives discussed this year are already getting off the ground.

“You managed to bring together leaders of all ages driven by goodness, virtue and humanity. Together they want to make the world a better place through partnership and this was truly inspiring.”

Rebecca Stevens
head of partnerships and public affairs at Novartis Social Business

Ahimsa Forum 2017's overview

The 2017 Ahimsa Forum in numbers

  • 129 participants from 35 countries
  • 54% of attendees were women, 46% were men
  • 40% of attendees were affiliated with local NGOs working directly on the ground 30% of attendees worked in the private sector…
  • …and finally, 30% were members of other governmental or international organisations

The 2017 Ahimsa Forum took place at Fondation Mérieux's Les Pensières Conference Centre, Annecy Participants were from all ages, cultures and backgrounds.

Public health: Ahimsa Forum 2017’s main objectives

This year, the workshops and conferences organised by Ahimsa Fund centred around four main objectives, aimed at refining and directing current initiatives, as well as upcoming projects:

  • Try, as far as possible, to link social entrepreneurship initiatives with the UN’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals, with particular emphasis on engaging with local NGOs.
  • Prioritise access to technology. Ahimsa Fund believes that the Internet is essential to sustainable development, as digital technology can often prove decisive in determining the ability of communities to access public healthcare.
  • Encourage private sector engagement. Alongside local and international NGOs, Ahimsa Fund is committed to its role as part of the ‘three pillars’ of sustainable development.
  • Develop leadership. Launching a public healthcare proposal is just the beginning. Even when a project benefits from the latest technological and medical innovations, the key to a successful initiative lies in effective management.

8 workshops examining access to healthcare

Each of the eight workshops developed by Ahimsa Fund was hosted by two chairpersons, responsible for organising the seminar’s content and overseeing any discussions. In each case, both were selected for their significant expertise in the development sector. When it came to structuring the meetings, participants were asked to leave their Powerpoints at home: instead, we prioritized clear and effective communication, encouraging dialogue between attendees and with a strong emphasis on interaction.

It wasn’t long before ideas started flying! Experts listened respectfully as questions were asked and new avenues explored: the communal spirit of exchanging views was well and truly present.

Ahimsa Forum 2017's overview

Each of the workshops concluded with a question-and-answer session lasting at least half an hour, giving each participant a chance to clarify issues raised during the preceding discussion.

“I enjoyed the Forum immensely – truly inspiring. Thank you for your sincere friendship and warm hospitality, as always…”

Tony Meloto
founder of Gawad Kalinga

Don’t miss the latest Ahimsa Forum news!
Stay up to date with Ahimsa Forum’s activity via our website. You’ll find interviews, reports, and articles about this year’s Forum, as well as messages from our participants.

  • Live reports: to encourage collaboration between participants, a résumé of the previous day was given at each of the 2017 Ahimsa Forum’s morning sessions – read them here!
  • Messages of thanks from this year’s participants
  • Review of Ahimsa Forum 2017: Looking for a detailed report of this year’s Forum? Click here!
  • Interviews: Coming soon – a series of ten exclusive interviews with our partners (Mukesh Kapila, Dylan Wik, Saba Al Mubaslat, Setsuko Klossowska de Rola, Tony Meloto…)

When culture meets health: two unique workshops celebrating cultural differences

When considering challenges linked to international development, it’s impossible not to be awed by the incredible cultural diversity of the world in which we live. The 2017 Ahimsa Forum gave participants the chance to experience art, music and culture from around the world with a pair of very special workshops, which took place between the seminars detailed above.

  • Wednesday’s Session 1 opened with Unesco’s Artist for Peace, the Countess Setsuko Klossowka de Rola, presenting an exquisite calligraphy evoking the theme ‘smile’. Her performance was followed by a poetry reading featuring the graceful, yet radically powerful verses of India’s Sudeep Sen and Iran’s Homa Arzhangi.

“A smile costs nothing, but gives everything.
It is worth fortunes to the one who receives it, but does not impoverish the one who gives it.
Its exists only for an instant, but its memory is sometimes eternal.”

Raoul Follereau

  • Session 2, which took place on Thursday night, treated Forum participants to a fascinating exchange about the different ways we view the world. This second session engaged the audience via a four-way discussion, with contributions from an American, a Burundian, a Brazilian and Michael Møller, Director-General of the United Nations Office at Geneva.

Global healthcare: two plans of action developed by Ahimsa Fund

The Ahimsa Forum is a key opportunity to refine and, if necessary, redirect the Fund’s objectives. This year, we focused on two main issues:

1/ Collaborate with the WHO to examine levels of community engagement with national health initiatives

Ahimsa Fund is committed to engaging with the world’s leading global healthcare organisation. To achieve this, we’re looking to create more opportunities to share and develop ideas with the WHO. New discussions will be launched in the near future.

2/ Continue to engage with Forum participants to achieve specific objectives linked to sustainable development

Several of Ahimsa Fund’s initiatives, developed and launched alongside its partners, are already leading the way when it comes to public health initiatives – so much so that a number of projects are already being imitated on the international level: cervical cancer screening in Bangladesh, India, Burundi and Haiti, fighting against avoidable blindness in Nepal, India and Tibet, and even training programs for disadvantaged youth in the Philippines.

“A huge thank you to the team for their warm welcome, and bravo once again for the Forum,
whose participants I found to be incredibly passionate.
Events like these help us leave our comfort zones and encourage us to think much more deeply about problems linked to development.”

Michèle Boccoz
ambassador for HIV/AIDS-related issues an other communicable diseases,
France’s Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affaires

ETHICS: the motto of the 2017 Ahimsa Forum

Engaging, inspiring, innovative, the 2017 Ahimsa Forum saw men and women from around the world come together to help promote practical and powerful change in the global healthcare industry. This year’s theme, ETHICS, saw us lead by example, promoting tolerance and humility by encouraging individuals to focus on two core values: compassion and sustainability.

Despite the incredible progress made at this year’s event, there remain endless opportunities for the Forum – and its participants – to explore. When considering the major issues facing international development models today, the Forum is ideally placed to help guide and develop effective public health strategies. Our projects and those supported by our partners are helping to advance Ahimsa Fund’s dream: enabling the world’s most disadvantaged communities to access sustainable, affordable and effective healthcare. If you took part in the 2017 Ahimsa Forum, we’d be thrilled to hear your thoughts on this year’s event. Until then, we’ll see you at the next Ahimsa Forum, taking place in Tony Meloto’s home country of the Philippines from June 25-29, 2019. Get in touch with us today!