Amal and George Clooney Headline #SkollWF

Insights from Skoll World Forum 2024’s Inspirational Closing

StartingUpGood Magazine


Explore additional insights from our comprehensive conference coverage of the 2024 Skoll World Forum.

The 21st annual Skoll World Forum brings together visionary leaders, innovators, and global change-makers to drive social impact.

The 2024 Skoll World Forum concluded with an inspiring plenary focused on collective action and the power of storytelling.

2024 Skoll World Forum Closing Plenary

Key Takeaways

Focus on Improving Global Health Outcomes

  • The world is experiencing global health setbacks in the fights against HIV/AIDS, malaria, and tuberculosis due to factors such as political polarization threatening funding for programs like PEPFAR, climate change increasing malaria risk, and conflicts driving the spread of tuberculosis in refugee populations.
  • Peter Sands described the Global Fund’s unique partnership between governments, civil society, the private sector and affected communities. He highlighted its success, having helped save over 50 million lives cumulatively since its founding in 2002.
  • The Global Fund prioritizes inclusive, country-driven models that include local community organizations that engage with affected communities. If you want to hear from civil society and the people on the ground then you have to give them real power.

Collective Action for Social Justice

  • The Clooney Foundation for Justice works to fight human rights abuses through legal action and storytelling. It collaborates with private sector partners and other philanthropic leaders to advance human rights.
  • Amal Clooney discussed cases involving ISIS victims and journalists, emphasizing the importance of punishing genocide and crimes against humanity. She emphasized the importance of joined-up efforts among those fighting for justice, noting that adversaries are often more innovative and united.
  • George Clooney highlighted the difficulty of guilting bad actors into change and the need to target their financial interests instead. He acknowledged the long, slow process of achieving justice but maintained hope in the “long arc of justice” ultimately bending towards progress.
  • Actionable anger, learning from failure, and unity among those fighting for justice were identified as key strategies for advancing social justice.
  • Flexibility and adaptability are crucial when strategies to fight injustice lose their effectiveness. As Gayle Smith explained, the people who fight for change in the world have to realize that sometimes change is something they have to do, too.
  • Muhammad Yunus provided a video message about the legal harassment he and his colleagues are facing in Bangladesh with a jail sentence.

The Power of Storytelling and Connecting to Humanity

  • Speakers highlighted the power of storytelling to engage audiences and relate to people’s struggles to drive social change.
  • Zolelwa Sifumba shared her powerful story of contracting MDR tuberculosis as a medical student, the challenges she faced to survive this disease, and the impact had on her life as an activist.
  • The importance of prayer, ceremony, and connecting to ancestors was emphasized, with speakers from For Freedoms leading the audience in reflection.
  • Music and dance were incorporated, with a performance by Yemi Alade, Award-winning African musician, closing the event.


The closing plenary aimed to inspire change-makers to continue their work with renewed conviction, hope, and joy, while not overlooking the daunting challenges our world continues to face. It celebrated the extraordinary leadership and contributions of women throughout the forum, and promoted collective action from all who participated in person and virtually.

Featured Speakers

  • Amal and George Clooney, Clooney Foundation for Justice
  • Claudia Peña, Executive Director, For Freedoms
  • Eric Gottesman, Co-founder and Artistic Director, For Freedoms
  • Zolelwa Sifumba, MDR TB survivor, Global Health activist and advocate
  • Peter Sands, Executive Director, Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria
  • Raj Panjabi, Board Member, Skoll Foundation; President Emeritus, Last Mile Health
  • Yemi Alade, Award-winning Nigerian Afropop Singer, Songwriter, Actress and Activist
  • Gayle E. Smith, Chief Executive Officer, The ONE Campaign

Our StartingUpGood team believes that events and conferences are great places to learn, share ideas, and innovate. We are committed to using our innovative tech tools to share key insights and learnings from top conferences. This article uses to create transcripts and various LLMs to help identify key takeaways. All content for the article was hand-curated and checked for quality.

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