Something that was very apparent at this WINGS Forum, held in Bangkok 16-18 November, is how much the WINGS members have in common and what a lot they can learn from each other. While the plenary sessions introduced loftier themes relating to the role of grantmakers in today’s world – and to the conference title, ‘Making a Difference in Philanthropy’ – the breakout sessions were real working and learning sessions.
The most challenging of the keynote speakers was Anuradha Mittal of the Oakland Institute. She took foundations to task for leaving the policy-making field in the US to right-wing foundations, and criticized US foreign aid to the developing world for harming local farmers. The ‘new’ Green Revolution that the Bill and Melinda Gates and Rockefeller Foundations are bringing to Africa fails to acknowledge either the causes of hunger and poverty in Africa or the failure of the first Green Revolution, she said.