Philanthropy needs to get back to basic principles: learning from the NEXUS Latin American & Caribbean Forum
by Carolina Suarez
CEO, Association of Corporate and Family Foundations Colombia
WINGS Board Member– @mcsuarezv
Last December I was kindly invited to represent WINGS during the NEXUS Latin American & Caribbean Forum held in Miami.
At first, I thought it was going to be a similar forum to previous ones that I have had the opportunity to attend. However, as soon as I read the agenda and took a look at the participants list, I realized the NEXUS Forum would be different.
The people, the conferences and the agenda were designed to bring new ideas and perspectives about philanthropy in the region. Maybe the two most important issues that I would highlight from the meeting were the reflections made and the impressive level of the people assembled in the room.
Bernardo Toro, from Avina Foundation, opened the meeting with a reflection that marked the route of the Forum and brought us together as a group:
“The new meaning of Latin America during the time of climate change and the new relationships as a human species”.
Bernardo started his speech by highlighting the richness of Latin America, particularly regarding water reserves, arable land and biological diversity. Latin America is the green continent, and is an important reserve for humanity that will allow us to solve the challenges ahead!
Then, Bernardo shared with us a definition of caring from Leonardo Boff: “We care for what we love. We love what we care for. Given the knowledge we have today about the dangers that weigh on the Earth and life, we know that if we do not care for them, our species will be threatened with extinction, while the impoverished Earth will continue for centuries in the cosmos until perhaps another being appears, that is endowed with high complexity and caring, capable of enduring spirit and consciousness”.
Both of these reflections about the richness of Latin America and the meaning of caring led us to understand that we as a region, cannot live in isolation. We are a critical element of the human species and we can offer and share all of our richness to humanity.
Once Bernardo finished his magnificent presentation, I was convinced that this Forum was completely different, and I decided to change the words that I wanted to share at my panel discussion. I understood that the Forum was focused on retrospection and on a return to the essence of the meaning of philanthropy: principles and values. How philanthropy works in strengthening human dignity; eliminating inequality; and recovering the importance of the ethics in our behavior, and the respect for the planet and for humanity.
Now, that I am writing this blog, I can testify as to the importance of having participated in the NEXUS Forum, because it gave me the opportunity to reflect about different ideas and perspectives, and understand the relationship between our lives, our planet, and how philanthropy can positively transform our understanding of our planet and of who we are as human beings.
I am convinced that philanthropy is more than giving and charity. Philanthropy is a force that we need to strengthen. We need to find ways to work more collectively and make this work available to society, governments and the people who most need it. We need to strengthen and ratify the principles and values of the human species, beginning with our ethics and showing how we are still on time to build our planet for good.