After a beautiful week full of debates, lectures, espresso, group discussions, music, and new friends, the 2021 Santo Stefano Summit (July 27th - August 3rd) came to a close. All told, our 60-strong group welcomed 18 elite speakers. To everyone involved—the speakers, the participants, the cooking team and organizing staff, the generous Ventotene locals—we give our biggest thanks. Position papers and manifestos from this year's conference can be found below, in addition to more sneak peeks and highlights from our time on the island. Be sure to apply to the 2022 summit when our application goes live!

Topics (click for more)

2 0 2 1 C O N F E R E N C E T O P I C S

The 2021 Summit prioritized three issues, each of which will was the focus of discussions for two conference days:

Worsening Regional Crises—A Moral Conflict

Our first topic looked at regional crises through both a personal, intimate lens and a global, theoretical one. Regional conflicts grow more frequent and more horrific each passing year, notably exacerbated by climate change and a weakening global governance system. Participants examined the moral conflict that arises when addressing regional crises: While many believe that the international community has a responsibility to protect those who are oppressed, tortured, brutalized, and massacred by their own governments or other power-wielding entities, others argue that foreign nations—particularly Western ones—don’t have the right to intervene in the domestic affairs of another state. At what point are human rights a greater priority than national sovereignty or the threat of neocolonialism? Participants also considered international institutions’ past failures to protect victims of regional violence despite espousing the decades-old promise that humanitarian atrocities will “Never Again” be tolerated. The conference sought to understand more deeply the (often geostrategic) dynamics contributing to regional crises, as well as the more local experiences of those bearing the weight of such violence (including the refugee and asylum-seeker); in doing so, participants strove to reinvent a more progressive, more effective global justice system.


Human Dimensions of the Environment

Our discussions of environment and climate change approach an often objective and empirical topic through a refreshingly humanistic perspective. We take the word “environment” to mean the entirety of the social and ecological fabric that make up our respective communities. Participants examined interpersonal and community-based injustices that result from the current infrastructure, policies, and practices that dominate our environments. The Santo Stefano Summit team maintains that access to a physically and socially healthy environment is a human right. We urged participants to consider the following: How do we bolster such health? How do we configure the topic of climate change within a human rights context? How do we rebuild our local and global spaces to better reflect our shared values—and which values should these be? How can we imagine new paths to sustainability over the next 50 years?


Multilateralism, Reimagined

The conference looked to multilateralism as both a problem and a solution. We recognized and discussed the inherent power imbalances promoted both within and beyond the current global governance system—be it through the prioritization of wealthy, Western voices within the structures of international institutions, the neocolonial policies imposed upon countries of the Global South, or the like. Participants discussed the role of neocolonialism on liberal international order and the global economy. They also considered international institutions’ shortcomings, limitations, and instances of ineffectuality. But we also recognized that multilateralism, in essence, is nothing more than a principle, championing unity and global cooperation. What is the alternative to international cooperation? Nationalism and even fascism, both of which are on the rise worldwide. Together, we imagined a fresh, more equitable and more effective global governance structure—in doing so, we asked ourselves the following: What values should be promoted by global governance, and how can we reform and reconfigure existing institutions to embody these values?


* * *

These three topics were chosen not only because of their urgency, but also because of their complimentary nature. Participants were urged to consider the interconnectedness of these issues' root causes and the interconnectedness of their potential solutions. Clearly, each of these topics is incredibly broad and multi-faceted. This was an intentional choice, for it allowed participants considerable agency over the direction in which they took their debates. Which aspects of these topics deserve to be prioritized? Which actions or policies should be avoided by the international community, and which are necessary risks? These were key considerations throughout our week on Ventotene.

Conference Speakers (click for more)

We had the great honor of welcoming the following speakers at the 2021 Santo Stefano Summit:

Dr. Anthony Arend, Professor at Georgetown University

Dr. Arend is Professor of Government and Foreign Service at Georgetown University and founder of the Institute for International Law and Politics. His research expertise includes international law and international organizations. In 2014, Arend co-published the book Human Dignity and the Future of Global Institutions.

Dr. Cecilia Piccioni, Senior Advisor to the Italian President

Dr. Piccioni is the senior advisor to the Italian president and former Italian ambassador to Hanoi, Vietnam from 2015-2018. She served at the Permanent Mission of Italy to the United Nations in New York as First Counselor, Head of the Economic Development Desk, and Italian delegate to the Second Committee of the UN General Assembly. She was involved in negotiating the Sustainable Development Goals and post 2015 development agenda.

Dr. Christian Henderson, Professor of Economics at Leiden University

Dr. Henderson is a professor at Leiden University in the political economy and development of the Middle East, with a particular focus on business politics. He also worked as a journalist in Lebanon and Qatar during the Israel-Hezbollah War.

Christopher Wall, Security Analyst

Christopher is a security analyst and social scientist, with expertise in cyberwar and extremism. He is the author of the recent book The Future of Terrorism: ISIS, al-Qaeda, and the Alt-Right.

Dr. David Vine, Professor of Anthropology at American Univeristy

Dr. Vine is a Professor of Anthropology at American University and recent author of The United States of War: A Global History of America’s Endless Conflicts, from Columbus to the Islamic State. His research interests include inequality, social movements, forced displacement, refugees, US military bases abroad, race, ethnicity, gender, class, sexuality, and nationalism.

Dawa Yangi Sherpa, Executive Assistant at EarthJustice

Dawa Sherpa is an executive assistant at EarthJustice, an environmental advocacy organization. A native of Nepal, Sherpa is an activist against environmental injustice, with a particular focus on hydro dams.

Senior Officer Fabio Russo, UNIDO

Fabio Russo is a senior officer in the Quality Infrastructure and Smart Production Division of the Department of Digitalisation, Technology and Innovation (DTI) in the United Nations Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO). His main area of expertise is in Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) clusters/networks and value chains development. He is responsible for UNIDO’s programme on SME export and origin consortia and has established various partnerships with other UN Agencies, universities and international organisations for the promotion of origin-linked products.

Dr. Fredergia Bindi, Senior Fellow at the Institute for Women's Policy Research

Dr. Fredergia Bindi is a Senior Fellow at the Institute for Women's Policy Research. Bindi formerly served as the Senior Advisor to the Italian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Head of International Affairs and at the Italian National School of Administration, and Director of the Italian Cultural Institute in Brussels.

Dr. Hillary Faxon, Professor at UC Berkeley

Dr. Faxon is a professor in the Department of Environment, Policy, and Management at the University of California Berkeley. She is a feminist scholar, committed to environmental justice and democracy, bringing intersectional questions to the political economy of resources and agrarian change. Dr. Faxon's expertise lies in agrarian change and digital cultures in Myanmar.

Hon. Ambassador Kenneth Yalowitz, US Department of State

Amb. Yalowitz was the former ambassador to Belarus and Georgia as well as a former career diplomat for 36 years in the Senior Foreign Service US Department of State. Yalowitz directed the Dickey Center for International Understanding at Dartmouth College and has taught at Stanford, Georgetown, Washington and Lee, George Mason, and American University.

Lisa de Pagter, Dutch Youth Ambassador for SRHR, Gender Equality, and Bodily Autonomy

Lisa is the Dutch Youth Ambassador for Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights, Gender Equality, and Bodily Autonomy. She is also the coordinating policy officer for women's rights and gender equality. Her research interests revolve around diplomacy, international development, youth engagement, and gender equality.

Dr. Melissa Nursey-Bray, Department Head at the University of Adelaide

Dr. Nursey-Bray currently leads the Department in Geography, Environment and Population at the University of Adelaide. In addition to teaching, she is currently conducting several extensive research programs, including "Indigenous Climate Adaptation," "Community Engagement and Environmental Change," and "Adaptation, Community Environment (ACE)." Dr. Nursey-Bray is an expert on environmental decision-making within communities, with a particular focus on indigenous peoples. Her areas of focus are urban ecology, climate adaptation, and sustainable resource management.

Dr. Heike Speiker, Deputy Director at the German Red Cross

Heike Speiker is the Deputy Director of the International Services and National Relief Division at the German Red Cross. She is the former coordinator of the German Red Cross Ebola Operations and is also an expert in Humanitarian Law and Law of Armed Conflicts.

Omar Alshogre, Former Syrian Political Prisoner

Omar Alshogre is a human rights activist and former Syrian political prisoner under the Assad regime. Omar is currently the director of Detainee Affairs at the Syrian Emergency Task Force.

Dr. Paul Behrens, Professor at Leiden University

Dr. Behrens is a professor in Energy and Environmental Change at Leiden University. He is the author of The Best of Times, The Worst of Times and is passionate about science communication. Paul's research interests align in human consumption and food systems.

Sabrina Axster, Former Research Consultant at the UN

Sabrina Axster was a former research consultant in the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs. She is also a specialist in the political economy of European immigration control and is pursuing a PhD at Johns Hopkins University.


Manifestos (click for more)

The conference manifestos are quasi-position papers that in-person participants wrote together on the last day of conference. They represent a culmination of the week-long program, outlining the global issues we discussed and presenting respective plans of action. This year's manifestos are available at the following link: docs.google.com/document/d/1Laf7vmwxt3O2aA7HXmWH4ZokG38cwGEbA2nF5YHvFuo/edit?usp=sharing

Carousel imageCarousel imageCarousel imageCarousel imageCarousel imageCarousel imageCarousel imageCarousel imageCarousel image

Position Papers (click for more)

All Santo Stefano Summit participants, both virtual and in-person, are expected to submit position papers on one, two, or all three of the conference topics prior to the beginning of our programming. The position paper submissions from the 2021 summit can be found at this link:

https://docs.google.com/document/d/1d7_1RYS0WlLxmHhx8w8CgVvnoMrBjNnxK2yrEcB_WEE/edit?usp=sharing

For more on position paper expectations, see the Learn More tab.

Our quiet conference hall lights up the sky at the end of a busy day


A favorite pastime on the island is grabbing a coffee at one of the many local cafes


Conference Itinerary (click for more)

Tuesday, 27th - Introductory Day


Everyone arrives throughout the day; participants check in by 4:30pm (local time)


Introductory session 6-7:30


Group dinner 7:30 - 8:30


Film screening 9


Wednesday, 28th - Humanity of the Mediterranean & Beyond (Worsening Regional Crises)

The Mediterranean has seen millenia of civilizations, prosperity, and conflict. On this day, we will examine the impact of regional violence and migration in our contemporary world. The conference will seek to understand more deeply the (often geostrategic) dynamics contributing to these humanitarian crises, as well as the more local experiences of those bearing the weight of such violence (including the refugee and asylum-seeker); in doing so, participants can reinvent a more progressive, more effective global justice system.


7:30am Wakeup


9:30-10:30 Breakfast


10:30-1 Conference sessions


1-3 Lunch; Break


5-8:30 Conference session


8:30 Dinner


9:30 Optional Activity Period



Thursday, 29th - Humanitarian Crises: What is Our Role?

(WRC)

On this day we will discuss what role we collectively play in bolstering peace in regions affected by crisis. While many believe that the international community has a responsibility to protect those who are oppressed, tortured, brutalized, and massacred by their own governments or other power-wielding entities, others argue that foreign nations—particularly Western ones—don’t have the right to intervene in the domestic affairs of another state. At what point are human rights a greater priority than national sovereignty or the threat of neocolonialism?


7:30am Wakeup


9:30-10:30 Breakfast


10:30-1 Conference sessions


1-3 Lunch; Break


5-8:30 Conference session


8:30 Dinner


9:30 Optional Activity Period




Friday, 30 - Rain and Rights

(Humanity of the Environment)

In a world of increasingly scarce resources, we must decide how to best protect every human’s right to access rain and sun. We believe that access to clean water and a healthy environment is an inherent human right—one not observed in many local or global spaces. On this day, we will come together to consider the current infrastructure, policies, and practices that dominate our environments—and the inequities that arise as a result thereof. How should our shared value structure surrounding the environment change?


7:30am Wakeup


9:30-10:30 Breakfast


10:30-1 Conference sessions


1-3 Lunch; Break


5-8:30 Conference session


8:30 Dinner


9:30 Optional Activity Period



Saturday, 31st - Endless (De)Growth; A Critical View of the UN SDGs and Other Climate Solutions

(HOTE)

Today, the group will discuss in more practical terms the flaws of the UN Sustainable Development Goals and devises alternate ideas for future prosperity, with a particular focus on environmental entrepreneurship. Moving beyond these, we'll create a more radical stance toward our collective views of equality and justice. We do this within the context of the Mediterranean while challenging the institutional, economic, and political relationship between the Global North and the Global South. We will also examine the notion of “growth” and propose alternate ways for society to interact with development and the environment.


7:30am Wakeup


9:30-10:30 Breakfast


10:30-1 Conference sessions


1-3 Lunch; Break


5-8:30 Conference session


8:30 Dinner


9:30 Optional Activity Period


Sunday, 1st - Northern and Southern Voices

(Multilateralism, Reimagined)

On this day, we will discuss the role of colonial and neocolonial forces shaping the global world order and economy, with a focus on epistemic justice and redistributive justice. What are new economic pathways for the Global South in a post-pandemic world? We will also examine the structural shortcomings of international institutions and reimagine a more equitable and more effective system based on a new set of human rights standards.


7:30am Wakeup


9:30-10:30 Breakfast


10:30-1 Conference sessions


1-3 Lunch; Break


5-8:30 Conference session


8:30 Dinner


9:30 Optional Activity Period


Monday, 2nd - The Power of Art

(MR)

On this day, we will finish our discussions surrounding the future of multilateralism, after which in-person participants will break into three groups and write manifestos on each core conference topic. We will also hear from a keynote speaker and finish the garden and art projects that will be exhibited on the island of Ventotene for generations to come.


7:30am Wakeup


9:30-10:30 Breakfast


10:30-1

Conference sessions


1-3 Lunch; Break


5-8:30 Conference session


8:30 Dinner


9:30 Optional Activity Period



Tuesday, 3rd - Departure Day


10 Breakfast


Participants leave

Diverse sets of opinions beget dynamic debates

Catching a glimpse of Santo Stefano from Ventotene

Participants hard at work on their manifestos

On our final evening, everyone enjoyed a celebratory dinner at a local pizzeria

Organizing staffers had fun, too!

One of our smaller discussion groups gets together to break down a topic

A beautiful view of a local beach

Participants opt for some R&R on a beautiful boat, breaking up a long conference day

Part of the job: Daily Coordinator Aisha doesn't realize she has something on her face


Check out Eutopya's podcast about this year's event!

https://open.spotify.com/episode/0OJJwe9coAScLF6P0LEuEe?si=9505bd90e8884942