Tackling Polarization and Disinformation in Pursuit of SDG16+

Join us for a high-level discussion on the sidelines of the 2024 High-Level Political Forum, hosted by Pathfinders for Peaceful, Just and Inclusive Societies and supported by the governments of Bangladesh, Canada, Czechia, and Guatemala where we will hear from those committed to building inclusive, peaceful, and just societies as they share timely lessons and effective strategies. This gathering will bring stakeholders from various sectors together to address polarization and fragmentation—and foster a policy framework to bridge divides and foster resilient communities.

Download the concept note

July 17, 2024 | 10:00–11:45 a.m. (ET) | 777 United Nations Plaza, 8th FL, New York, NY

In-Person Registration (Deadline: Tuesday, July 16) | Virtual Registration

Amid the economic, climate, and health crises, as well as rapidly evolving socio-economic contexts and escalating conflicts, societies are seemingly facing a new major threat: fragmentation. Polarization has increased in almost every region since 2005, and the Edelman Barometer reveals a widespread belief across 28 countries that the social fabric holding countries together has grown too weak to serve as a foundation for unity and common purpose. The latest Human Development Report identified that polarization creates a “new paradigm of uncertainty.” Confidence in our ability to collectively address climate change, resolve conflicts, and achieve sustainable development for all is eroded when building consensus, even on the most fundamental aspects of decision-making seems virtually impossible. Making matters worse is the widespread distrust towards societal leaders in government, media, business, and non-governmental organizations.

The narratives we tell to make sense of this moment hold the potential to instill hope, encourage empathy, and popularize solutions, but they can also be wielded as weapons. As inequalities within and between countries rise, there has also been a concomitant rise in divisive narratives and tech-amplified disinformation used to pit groups, policies, and identities against one another. There are striking similarities across contexts, whether these narratives foment backlash against gender equality, break consensus around climate action, or incite hatred due to differences in race, place, or faith. Today’s media and information ecosystem is conducive to “divisive entrepreneurs”—actors driven by ambition and greed—to capitalize on hate, fear, and blame. They exploit differences and anxieties arising from the current political and economic system, normalizing prejudice for their own gain.

Learn more about the event in the full concept note here


  • Address vulnerabilities: Understand what makes societies, communities, and individuals susceptible to divisive and polarizing narratives. This includes the connections between societal inequalities and power imbalances, growing distrust, and the lack of independent and diverse media and information ecosystems.
  • Promote solutions: Develop diverse approaches and a comprehensive framework that feed into effective and inclusive governance principles, drawing lessons from different fields (tech-policy, peace-building, social dialogue tools, media), cultures, and contexts.
  • Foster dialogue and collaboration: Bring together relevant actors across contexts and disciplines to discuss what it would take to craft a resilient global strategy that propels us towards achieving SDG16+.


High-level opening segment

  • H.E. Ambassador Martin Kimani, PhD, Executive Director, New York University’s Center on International Cooperation (moderator)
  • H.E. Ms. Kenyeh Barlay, Minister of Planning and Economic Development, Sierra Leone
  • H.E. Mr. Petr Hladík, Minister of Environment, Czechia
  • H.E. Mr. Md. Akhter Hossain, Principal Coordinator (SDGs), Prime Minister’s Office, Bangladesh
  • H.E. Mr. Hugo Allan García, Vice Minister for Strategic Analysis for Development, Guatemala
  • H.E. Alice Wairimu Nderitu, Under-Secretary-General and Special Adviser on the Prevention of Genocide

Expert roundtable discussion

  • Mrs. Alissa Wahid, Founder, Gusdurian Network Indonesia (GNI)
  • Dr. Daniel Rogers, Adjunct Assistant Professor, NYU Center for Global Affairs, co-founder of the Global Disinformation Index
  • john a. powell, Founding director of the Othering & Belonging Institute
  • Ms. Luz Mely Reyes, General Director of Efecto Cocuyo and ICFJ Knight Fellow
  • Mr. Mandeep Tiwana, Chief Programmes Officer, CIVICUS
  • Mr. Merle Mcgee, President and CEO, Everyday Democracy
  • Ms. Raquel Jesse, Program Officer, New York University’s Center for International Cooperation
  • Dr. Rosana Pinheiro Machado, Professor in the School of Geography at University College Dublin (UCD) and director of the Digital Economy and Extreme Politics Lab (DeepLab)
  • Ms. Sasha Havlicek, Co-Founder and CEO, Institute for Strategic Dialogue
  • Ms. Tonia Ries, Executive Director of the Edelman Trust Barometer

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