Since 2017, the Prada Group has hosted an annual conference with the aim of stimulating a debate on the most significant changes taking place in contemporary society. The fourth and latest iteration of these conferences was one through the lens of sustainable multilateralism.
The conference series format consists of keynote speeches, panel discussions, and students’ competitions, and this year, began with the discussion of the concept of “soft power” and new forms of collaboration and multilateralism that are proving to be of crucial importance for achieving global goals such as the protection of the environment and of cultural heritage in a post-COVID society.
Director of UNESCO Regional Bureau for Science and Culture in Europe in Venice, Ana Luiza M. Thompson-Flores explained at the conference, “Rather than seeing young people only as current and future customers, the industry should accept the burden and the honour of giving the right impetus to the minds of tomorrow. Rendering operational the potential of soft power that the fashion industry holds means using it conscientiously to influence public opinion and behaviour through commercial and manufacturing practices that promote the values of sustainability, including respect for cultural diversity.”
The conference was held in Venice, at Ca’ Corner della Regina – the Venetian headquarters of the Prada Foundation, and featured international academic speakers such as Mariarosa Cutillo, Stefano Patuanelli, Francesco Rutelli, and Ana Luiza M. Thompson-Flores.
The conference mainly focussed on the crucial role that the creative and fashion industry plays when affirming cultural identities and roles, and the ways in which they intersect with international institutions and organizations that are ready to collaborate with the business world with values such as solidarity and sustainability, forming the basis of their relationships. Among which is the United Nations – founded with the aim of promoting and defending peace among peoples – which is on a constant lookout for collaborations with companies precisely where it is possible to share social and environmental purposes that go beyond economic logic.
“Liberal humanism has brought about a great advance in human rights and economic development. At the same time, however, it has developed individualism and consumerism. Today it is not a question of counterposing growth and recession, but of inviting reflection on what is useful and what is of no use and indeed harmful. If we look around us, we see numerous initiatives that we might define as oases of fraternity. We must try to create a network of relationships for the harmonious integration of these oases, because the problems we face for the future are such that they cannot be tackled alone but demand collaboration and solidarity”. Explained Prada Group Chairman, Carlo Mazzi at the conference.