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What Works Summit

Reykjavik, Iceland

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The What Works global summit is a premier forum for debating and scaling real solutions to accelerate social progress around the world. Hosted by the global non-profit the Social Progress Imperative and its Icelandic partner Cognitio, What Works applies hard data and spotlight experience from top leaders to inspire and challenge approaches that drive social progress and advance the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).


In 2017 and 2019, in Reykjavik, Iceland, Magic Seed Media curated and programmed the content for the What Works Summit. Bringing together global leaders, such as: Helen Clark, Former Prime Minister of New Zealand; Former Administrator, UNDP; Özlem Cekic, Former Member of Parliament, Government of Denmark; Julie Hanna, Executive Chair of the Board, Kiva; Guðni Th. Jóhannesson, President of Iceland; Kristina Kloberdanz, Chief Sustainability Officer, Mastercard; Chokwe Antar Lumumba, Mayor of Jackson, Mississippi; Jorge Moreira da Silva, Director, OECD Development Co-operation Directorate; Bimala Rai Paudyal, Member, National Assembly, Federal Parliament, Nepal; Halla Tomasdóttir, CEO, The B Team; Wade Warren, Chief Strategy Officer for International Development, Deloitte; and many more.

Through a variety of innovative formats including debates, rotating interviews, workshops, short talks, case studies and interactive exercises; we tackled some of the most pressing issues facing the world. We engaged global leaders  on subjects from climate change, to the rise of populism, to what is working in water and sanitation and beyond; in a bid for progress.



The Bellagio Center

Bellagio, Italy


Since 1959 The Rockefeller Foundation Bellagio Center has hosted thousands of artists, policymakers, scholars, authors, practitioners, and scientists from all over the world enabling them time and space to work, to learn from each other, and to turn ideas into action that change the world. 

In 2018 and 2019, in Bellagio, Italy, we worked with The Rockefeller Foundation to curate and program the content for a number of Bellagio convenings, including:

The Future of Fragile States

In June 2018, The Rockefeller Foundation, together with the US Institute of Peace and the Overseas Development Institute, gathered a group of high-level participants, to address the future of fragile states. We tackled the current approaches which are failing to address the rising violence and displacement, pandemic and climate risks that are robbing hundreds of millions of peace and prosperity. We kicked off a process for an action plan and a coalition to support it. Participants included: Kofi Annan, Former UN Secretary; Lakhdar Brahimi, Former UN and Arab Special Envoy to Syria; Paul Collier, Professor, Oxford University; Helder da Costa, General Secretary, g7+ Secretariat; Neal Keny-Guyer, Chief Executive Officer, Mercy Corps; Victor Ochen, Executive Director, African Youth Initiative Network; Josette Sheeran, UN Special Envoy for Haiti; President and CEO, Asia Society; Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Former President, Liberia; Vera Songwe, Executive Secretary, UN Economic Commission for Africa and many others.

Innovative Frontiers of Development

In June 2018 and 2019, The Rockefeller Foundation brought together 60 high-level individuals to address  leveraging technology to meet the UN Global Goals. Through innovative pitch sessions, short talks, workshops, debates, fireside conversations and more; we started 'system-changing' projects, many of which are still active. These range from ideas for a migrant nation, AI and data governance for the digital age, feeding Africa's 2.4 billion by 2050 population; and many more. Participants included: Hilary Cottam, Author, Radical Help; Jean Case, Chairman, National Geographic; Jamie Drummond, Co-founder, ONE; Sean Hinton, CEO, Soros Economic Development Fund; Amy Jadesimi, CEO, LADOL; Nandan Nilekani, Co-founder, Infosys; Juliana Rotich, Co-founder, Ushahidi; Anne-Marie Slaughter, President and CEO, New America; Simon Zadek, Principal, Project Catalyst, United Nations Development Program and many more.

Solvable Summit

In June 2019, The Rockefeller Foundation launched its Solvable Series  by gathering 60 high-level participants to discuss and debate how to solve the biggest challenges facing our world. We covered areas which include: how to get the world on track to meet the 2030 global goals, solving poverty and inequality, achieving gender equality, how to ensure tech as a force for good and many more. Participants included: Anousheh Ansari, CEO, X Prize Foundation; Winnie Byanyima, Executive Director, Oxfam; Julia Gillard, 27th Prime Minister of Australia, in conversation with Malcolm Gladwell, Author and Podcast Host, Pushkin Industries, Agnes Kalibata, President, AGRA; H.R.H Princess Mabel Van Oranje, Chair, Girls Not Brides; Juan Manuel Santos, Former President of Colombia; Joseph Stiglitz, Professor, Columbia University; Mark Suzman, Chief Strategy Officer & President, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation; Jimmy Wales, Founder, Wikipedia; and many more.


In June 2019, The Rockefeller Foundation gathered 100+ Bellagio alumni. We gathered former residents and convening participants for a mixture of discussion, talks and performance, focused on improving the well-being of humanity. Participants included: Thulani Davis, American Playwright; Marian Wright Edelman, President, Children’s Defense Fund; Ian Goldin, Professor, University of Oxford; Christopher Graves, President, Ogilvy Center for Behavioral Science; Tania León, Composer-Conductor; Farah Mohamed, Founder, G(irls)20; James Mwangi, Executive Director of the Dalberg Group; Michelle Nunn, President and CEO, CARE USA; Raul Pangalangan, Judge, International Criminal Court; Susan Rockefeller, Filmmaker, Founder and Editor-in-Chief, Musings; Kevin Rudd, President, The Asia Society; Samuel Worthington, CEO, InterAction; and many more.



The Deep End at SXSW 2019 Austin, TX

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In 2019 Vox Media took over The Belmont in Austin TX, to host three days of unfiltered storytelling, live podcasts, musical performances and Eater curated food, during SXSW. We worked with Vox to curate the content and bring their most awesome brands to life. The programming included a special International Women's day live episode of the popular recode decode podcast with Kara Swisher. Kara interviewed Former Texas State Senator, Wendy Davis and Venture Capitalist, Arlan Hamilton, on what it takes to succeed against the odds. We programmed two live episodes of The Weeds, with special guests, democratic nominee hopefuls Mayor Pete Buttigieg and Julián Castro. Other highlights included: Eater  discussions and demos with Chefs Mei Lin and Nini Nguyen; a live episode of Pivot, with Kara Swisher and Scott Galloway; a live episode of Recode Media with Peter Kafta and Mark Cuban; Actress Olivia Wilde and Writer/Producer Katie Silberman, joined Vox's Liz Plank to discuss the chronic under representation of women in Hollywood; and much more.

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