Bridging Divides Essay Contest

Bridging the Divides: Turf, Truth, and Trust

Our world is divided in many ways and along different fault lines. GBSN and the Victoria Forum are partnering to deliver a student essay contest in conjunction with the Victoria Forum 2022. Students from across the globe are invited to participate in the inaugural Bridging Divides Essay Contest. The essay contest is looking for original, unpublished essays that share experiences and perspectives that inspire efforts to bridge existing divides. Entries should describe opportunities to drive change, as well as illuminate the fault lines dividing local and global communities. Contest organizers and sponsors are seeking entries that are richly contextualized and real, including accounts of actual experiences and stories of courage, grit, and transformation. Most importantly, they are seeking essays that have the potential to shift the conversation in meaningful ways and foster collective action towards a more inclusive and sustainable world. That means essays should not only describe problems but also move us towards solutions. 

Sub-Themes

Bridging Economic Divides

Globalization has fostered economic integration through substantial growth of international trade and the free movement of goods, services and capital. At the same time, protectionism and trade barriers are challenging the modern global trading system. Moreover, despite the unprecedented economic growth that has occurred, the world has become more divided along economic, social and environmental lines. The degradation of social conditions for many and the impacts of a changing climate have contributed to economic instability. Many people have lost trust in economic and political leaders when it comes to developing a positive vision for the future and creating opportunities for all. The Forum will discuss innovative solutions to foster inclusive and sustainable economic development and responsible business management.

Bridging Social Divides

Most people from around the world believe that their country is divided. Identity, territoriality, religion, race, economic opportunities, culture and politics have all been cited as root causes of increased divisions. Women, in particular, continue to face significant systemic barriers across sectors and the rates of sexualized and physical violence in our society are alarming. The Forum aims to create a space that enables people to connect across all boundaries. The forum will create innovative ways to get people to engage with each other, merging the old with the new, through arts and culture, music and sports as fundamental ways of thinking about things.

Below is the announcement of the University of Victoria and Senate of Canada Partnership. Victoria Forum 2022 will promote constructive and evidence-based conversations with the objective to bridge economic, environmental, and social divides, focusing on three intersecting perspectives of turf, truth and trust. The Forum will combine face-to-face discussions in Victoria with online plenary sessions.

Bridging Environmental Divides

Humanity faces critical environmental problems, but political, social, and ideological polarization increasingly hinders our collective ability to address these problems. According to recent studies, a 2.8˚C increase in global temperatures from pre-industrial levels would cause an average of US$520 billion in damages per year across 22 economic sectors in the US alone. The burdens of climate change are disproportionately felt by the poor, the disempowered, the marginalized and Indigenous people. The recognition of these challenges led several businesses to reconsider how they do business and the incorporation of a broader stakeholder value maximization perspective. Increasingly,  leaders recognize that sustainability is important to the future success of their organizations, and large investors are committing to climate change action. The Victoria Forum will connect different conversations such as human security and development through the implementation of the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

The Victoria Forum

The inaugural Victoria Forum took place on November 2017, and brought together approximately 500 participants, representing different levels of governments, business, academia and civil society, to take stock of the state of diversity and inclusiveness in Canada on its 150th anniversary, and to look to the future. Victoria Forum is a partnership with the University of Victoria and the Senate of Canada. The objective of the Victoria Forum is to bring people together and bridge the divides in our society.

The Forum reflected a Canadian narrative that pluralistic societies require inclusive institutions, where power and benefits are widely held, in order to create the conditions for inclusive and sustainable socio-economic progress. The final report included thirty-eight constructive recommendations and was widely distributed to leaders at different levels of government, business, and civil society.

Mission Statement

The Victoria Forum convenes evidence-based conversations and stimulates creative thinking to develop innovative ideas and actionable solutions to contemporary and urgent environmental, economic, and social challenges.

The Victoria Forum creates inclusive spaces to bring together regional, national and international change-makers with different perspectives and expertise who are committed to making the world a better place for all.

Brief History of the Victoria Forum

The inaugural Victoria Forum took place on November 2017, and brought together approximately 500 participants, representing different levels of governments, business, academia and civil society, to take stock of the state of diversity and inclusiveness in Canada on its 150th anniversary, and to look to the future.

The Forum reflected a Canadian narrative that pluralistic societies require inclusive institutions, where power and benefits are widely held, in order to create the conditions for inclusive and sustainable socio-economic progress. The final report included thirty-eight constructive recommendations and was widely distributed to leaders at different levels of government, business, and civil society.