VICTORIA -- A national forum that will bring together top academics and professionals from across Canada will be helmed by a Victoria institution this fall.

The Victoria Forum 2020 will be co-hosted by the University of Victoria (UVic) and the Senate of Canada to discuss solutions to some of the world’s most challenging and divisive problems, many of which were exacerbated or created by the pandemic.

“We put together this initiative to bring together policy makers, academics, civil society and business leaders to come up with solutions for the world’s problems,” said Dr. Saul Klein, dean of the Gustavson School of Business at UVic.

Originally, the two-day forum slated for this November was to take place in-person at UVic. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, however, the entire event will be held virtually.

While the forum is set to begin in November, seminars will begin taking place this week.

Under the theme, “Bridging divides in the wake of a global pandemic,” the forum will draw on emerging trends and lessons learned from the pandemic through biweekly webinars, starting on May 28. 

The forum will examine the growing global divide along environmental, social and economic lines both pre and post-pandemic, according to UVic.

The event is a chance for policy makers, academics, civil society and business leaders from all around the world to come up with solutions for the world’s problems, say event organizers.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has cast a spotlight on societal divisions in Canada and around the world,” said George J. Furey, Speaker of the Senate of Canada.

“As these rifts increase in scale, so too does the responsibility of policy-makers to bridge the gaps. Together with governments, institutions and communities, the Senate of Canada looks forward to contributing to solutions to address these complex issues.”

Klein says that he sees an opportunity now to help the world get back on track post-pandemic.

“We realize that we have to rebuild. We have to rebuild our economies, our societies, our civil life in many ways and this is probably an opportunity to think about how we rebuild better,” he said.

“How do we avoid repeating the mistakes of the past and how do we come up with solutions that will really make a difference?”

Organizers say the Victoria Forum will create an inclusive space to bring together regional, national and international change-makers with different perspectives and expertise who are committed to making the world a better place.

The two-day, virtual forum will be held November 13 and 14. It is the second ‘Victoria Forum’ to be held; the last one was in 2017, with a focus on the benefits of diversity, openness and inclusiveness in society.

People are welcome to listen to the forum and webinars, which begin Thursday, by registering online here.