08.11.2022 I Insight into PEXForum 2022 in Istanbul
From 24th to 26th August 2022, Rupert Strachwitz, the CEO of the Maecenata Foundation, and I participated in this year’s PEX forum in Istanbul, Turkey. Co-hosted by Philea (Philanthropy Europe Association) and TÜSEV (Third Sector Foundation of Turkey), the event was themed ‘Driving (eco)systems change: Exploring the transformative power of collaboration in philanthropy’. As the first in-person PEX event after the PEX forum 2020 in Madrid, we much enjoyed many aspects of the forum. Our Turkish colleagues welcomed us with their one of a kind hospitality and together with the hosts created an unique space for exchange and connection.
With more than 100 participants representing over 60 organisations and 20 countries we had a very intensive forum. Hosted by Vehbi Koç Foundation, our time in Istanbul started with a networking dinner at the impressive Divan Pub on the 24th August. The following days mainly took place at Kadir Has University. After another warm welcome from Philea, TÜSEV, Vehbi Koç Foundation and Sabancı Foundation, we took part in our first interactive and dynamic exercise to build a community and explore our ecosystem in the morning of the first day. Followed by several nutshell talks introducing projects from the PEXcommunity and keynotes about systems change, I experienced my first PEX highlights: Burcu Bingöllü’s (Truth, Justice, Memory Center (Hafiza Merkezi)) presentation on ‘Defending civic space in Turkey ‘ and a participatory session that allowed us to connect with current challenges for displaced Syrian girls and refugees, speaking about ‘From Syria to safety in Turkey, what is next?‘ with Erdem Vardar, Director of Yuva Association. Both were inspirational contributions that left me thinking about potential collaborations to explore their transformative power. Unfortunately the tight schedule of the forum made it hard to dive deeper at this point.
Later in the afternoon we looked deeper into themes the community is working on. From climate to social justice and inequalities to democracy – the tracks were diverse. Rupert Strachwitz and Anne-Marie Jacob (WiderSense) gave an insight on legitimacy, trust and accountability, explaining ‘How we work towards more trust-driven philanthropy and promote more transparency and accountability in the sector‘.
After a beautiful boat trip on the Bosporus, we ended our first forum day at magnificent Sabancı Museum, where we enjoyed our second networking dinner hosted by generous Sabancı Foundation. The dinner was followed by an optional museum tour. Indeed a night to remember.
The last day started with a keynote about climate change by Indy Johar (Dark Matter Labs). Themed ‘Funding “public good” in complexity‘, Indy has proven his ability to thrill an audience. – Nevertheless, I would argue the presentation style did not suit the serious topic and the nature of the event.
Afterwards we had the chance to attend parallel workshops and case studies enriching our PEX experience. Discussing the latest trends in global philanthropy with Olga Tarasov (Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors) was for sure another highlight in these days before participating in some other parallel workshops and case studies, where Maecenata Foundation contributed a case study on ‘Muslim philanthropy in non-muslim surroundings‘.
Site visits to explore fascinating Istanbul built the perfect final of this year’s PEX forum. We had the chance to meet representatives of local civil society organisations and discuss the forum while enjoying coffee at famous Pera Palace Hotel, where writers such as Ernest Hemingway found inspiration.
The PEX community and its diverse perspectives made this event in Istanbul meaningful. I am thankful for the new perspectives I accessed and the inspiring conversations I was able to share. Nevertheless, I left Istanbul with the strong urge to dive deeper. To talk more about the challenges of our time, the transformative power of collaboration in philanthropy and the solutions we can only develop together. Saying this, I hope the schedules of future events include more time to use the spark of a moment and dive deeper. This is inevitable for gaining knowledge that is of interest for future collaborations within PEX and beyond.