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The Rockefeller Foundation Launches “Solvable” Platform to Spotlight Solutions to the World’s Most Complex Issues

New films and a podcast created by The Rockefeller Foundation, in partnership with Malcolm Gladwell and Jacob Weisberg’s Pushkin Industries and the award-winning producers at The Documentary Group, will highlight stories of what global changemakers believe is solvable in the next generation.

New York, NY – The Rockefeller Foundation today announced the launch of “Solvable,” a platform aimed at driving awareness of global issues that are solvable in the next generation. Using the United Nations’ 17 Sustainable Development Goals as a lens, Solvable showcases the efforts that are improving the lives of billions around the world.

On issues from nutrition to climate change and violence-induced trauma to gender equality, the actions of people across the globe today will have lasting effects for generations of the future.  Solvable pairs urgency with possibility in interviews with global changemakers, including Chelsea Clinton, 2018 Nobel Peace Prizewinner Denis Mukwege, chef and humanitarian José Andrés, and Princess Reema bint Bandar Al Saud.

“We believe the greatest challenges facing mankind are solvable in our lifetime not just because we see promising solutions – but because we have seen such extraordinary progress already,” said Dr. Rajiv J. Shah, President of The Rockefeller Foundation.  “In just under six decades, child mortality has declined from 20% of children under five to below 4%; in less than five decades, undernourishment in low-income countries has dropped from 35% to 13%; and over the last three decades, the number of people living in extreme poverty worldwide has dropped by two-thirds.  By harnessing technology and innovation, and working together in partnership, we truly believe we can brighten the future for humanity.”

Solvable will inspire viewers and listeners with content created in partnership with Pushkin Industries, and filmmakers from The Documentary Group.

Solvable includes:

  • the Solvable podcast – from Pushkin Industries with production by Chalk & Blade Ltd, examining solvable challenges through in-depth interviews conducted by bestselling author Malcolm Gladwell, journalist and former Slate CEO Jacob Weisberg, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Anne Applebaum, and Buzzfeed writer Ahmed Ali Akbar. Hosted by Maeve Higgins, the show reached #10 on the Apple Podcast Top Shows Chart with its first episode;
  • a mini-film series – produced by The Documentary Group comprised of 2- to 3-minute interviews with global changemakers outlining why they believe a particular challenge is solvable in their lifetime (see current list below);
  • the documentary film, “Solvable” – also produced by The Documentary Group a character-driven narrative that focuses on solvable challenges aligned to The Rockefeller Foundation’s work to realize food security, access to productive power, and child and maternal health in vulnerable communities, premiering first at the Solvable Summit during the 60th anniversary of The Bellagio Center on Lake Como in Italy in June, and available publicly later in the year through a yet-to-be announced distribution partnership; and
  • a digital platform and #Solvable social media campaign – to aggregate online conversations that lend momentum to these solvable issues and new solutions as well.

The platform will offer new episodes of the podcast and mini-films each week, which will encourage viewers to share the solutions and inspiration with their networks.  The “Solvable” documentary film will be available later this year.  The effort supports progress towards the 2030 target date of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, which “recognize that ending poverty and other deprivations must go hand-in-hand with strategies that improve health and education, reduce inequality, and spur economic growth – all while tackling climate change and working to preserve our oceans and forests.”

“Pessimism is permission to do nothing – to sit on the sidelines. But optimism comes with obligation; if we can solve big challenges, if we know how, why aren’t we doing it?” said Christine Heenan, Vice President for Global Policy and Advocacy for The Rockefeller Foundation. “The idea behind Solvable is that inspiration and information move more of us to act in ways both big and small.”

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About The Rockefeller Foundation

The Rockefeller Foundation advances new frontiers of science, data, policy, and innovation to solve global challenges related to health, food, power, and economic mobility. As a science-driven philanthropy focused on building collaborative relationships with partners and grantees, The Rockefeller Foundation seeks to inspire and foster large-scale human impact that promotes the well-being of humanity throughout the world by identifying and accelerating breakthrough solutions, ideas and conversations. For more information, sign up for our newsletter at rockefellerfoundation.org and follow us on Twitter @RockefellerFdn.

Interview Subjects for Solvable Platform

  • Bill Gates, co-chair of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, on ending childhood malnutrition;
  • Neal Keny-Guyer, CEO of Mercy Corps, on combating extreme poverty by addressing the root problems of conflict and civil unrest;
  • Dr. Raj Panjabi, co-founder and CEO of Last Mile Health, on training community healthcare workers to provide local care;
  • Nandan Nilekani, co-founder and Chairman of EkStep, on preparing workers worldwide for economic disruption by developing software platforms for lifelong education;
  • Victor Ochen, founder and Executive Director of African Youth Initiative Network, on facilitating the healing process for victims of terror and conflict;
  • José Andrés, Chef and Founder of World Central Kitchen, on providing clean and safe cookstoves to three billion people worldwide;
  • Michael Faye, co-Founder and President of Give Directly, on addressing extreme poverty with direct cash transfers;
  • Wendy Kopp, CEO and founder, Teach for All, on ensuring quality education by investing in local leadership and incentivizing new teachers;
  • Dr. Anthony Fauci, Director of NIAID, on ending the HIV/AIDS pandemic;
  • Chelsea Clinton, Vice Chair of the Clinton Foundation, on increasing kindergarten readiness through creative new venues for early childhood learning and brain development;
  • Dr. Denis Mukwege, Founder and Director of Panzi Hospital and 2018 Nobel Peace Laureate, on ending the use of rape as a weapon of war;
  • Ellen Agler, CEO of the END Fund, on combining simple treatment and prevention methods to completely control and eliminate neglected tropical diseases around the world;
  • Dr. Melanie Walker, endovascular neurosurgeon, University of Washington, on reversing neurological damage from stroke and brain injury;
  • Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Board Chair of GAVI, The Vaccine Alliance, on immunizing all children in the developing world against preventable diseases;
  • Admiral James Stavridis, U.S. Navy, Retired, and former NATO Supreme Allied Commander, on enlisting inactive military personnel worldwide to help provide preventative medical care;
  • Arthur Brooks, President of the American Enterprise Institute, on combating extreme poverty through democratic and capitalistic reforms;
  • Kerry Kennedy, President of Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights, on reducing hatred through human rights education;
  • Kristalina Georgieva, CEO of the World Bank, on empowering women through legal and legislative action;
  • Yetnebersh Nigussie, disability rights activist, Light for the World, on reducing inequality for people with disabilities through inclusion in classrooms;
  • Penny Pritzker, former U.S. Secretary of Commerce and founder and Chairman of PSP Capital Partners, on increasing inclusive prosperity for workers in the face of technological change;
  • Jules Kortenhorst, President and CEO of the Rocky Mountain Institute, on accelerating access to clean energy in the developing world;
  • Katja Iversen, President and CEO of Women Deliver, on ending the gender gap in corporate leadership;
  • Jasmine Crowe, CEO and founder, Goodr, on solving the problems of hunger and food waste by using technology to connect surplus food with those in need;
  • Khalid Bomba, CEO of the Ethiopian Agricultural Transformation Agency, on moving farmers from subsistence to producers for a global market;
  • Deborah Berebichez, Chief Data Scientist of Metis, on closing the gender gap in STEM fields;
  • Dr. Dixon Chibanda, Director of the African Mental Health Research Initiative, on getting mental health care to those hardest to reach by training local lay health workers;
  • Princess Reema bint Bandar Al Saud, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia’s Ambassador to the U.S., on giving women around the world tools to achieve financial self-sufficiency;
  • Siddharth Chatterjee, UN Resident Coordinator to Kenya, on preventing maternal mortality;
  • Graham Brookie, Director and Managing Editor of the Digital Forensic Research Lab, Atlantic Council, on fighting disinformation;
  • Katherine Hamilton, Chair of 38 North Solutions, on reducing dependence on fossil fuels;
  • Rosanne Haggerty, President and CEO of Community Solutions, on ending homelessness;
  • Susanne Bruyere, Professor of Disability Studies and Director of the Yang-Tan Institute on Employment and Disability at Cornell’s ILR School, on creating professional opportunities for the disabled population, especially those on the Autism spectrum;
  • Ron Bruder, Founder and Chair of Education for Employment, on addressing the youth employment crisis in Middle East – North Africa with relevant education and skill-building;
  • Arun Sundararajan, Professor of Information, Operations and Management Sciences, NYU, on using digital technology to improve quality-of-life regardless of income;
  • Brian Trelstad, Partner at Bridges Fund Management, on creating greater transparency in impact investing;
  • David Miliband, President and CEO, International Rescue Committee, on streamlining treatment for acute childhood malnutrition in fragile communities;
  • Jake Porway, Founder and Executive Director of DataKind, on using data science to maximize the impact of social change organizations;
  • Dr. Vincent DeGennaro, Founder, Innovating Health International, on preventing cervical cancer in low-income countries;
  • Gina Alvarado, Senior Research and Evaluation Advisor at Landesa, on securing land rights for women around the world;
  • Agnes Kalibata, President of AGRA, on moving subsistence farmers out of poverty through the use of mobile technology and accessible information;
  • Flavia Kleiner, co-Founder, Operation Libero on pushing back against populist attacks on liberal institutions;
  • Renee DiResta, Director of Research, New Knowledge and Head of Policy, Data for Democracy, on stopping the spread of conspiracy theories, particularly the anti-vaccination movement;
  • Roy Steiner, Managing Director of Food, The Rockefeller Foundation, on reducing malnutrition and diet-related disease around the world;
  • Phaik Yeon Cheah, Associate Professor, Oxford University, on the ethics of data sharing especially in biomedical research data;
  • Ashvin Dayal, Managing Director, Power at The Rockefeller Foundation, on how to bring clean energy to 1.3 billion people;
  • Salman Khan, Founder, Khan Academy, on educational resources widely available via YouTube;
  • Tristram Stuart, Author and campaigner, on reducing food waste;
  • Dr. Naveen Rao, Managing Director for Health, The Rockefeller Foundation, on reducing maternal mortality;
  • Mona Hanna-Attisha, pediatrician and public-health advocate, on access to clean water and the Flint water crisis;
  • David Baltimore, Professor of Biology, California Institute of Technology and 1974 Nobel laureate in Physiology or Medicine, on the science behind the treatment of HIV/AIDS;
  • Marieme Jamme, Founder of I AM THE CODE, on female education, coding and tech;
  • David Kaye, the UN Special Rapporteur for freedom of expression and Professor of Law at the University of California at Irvine, on freedom of online speech;
  • Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy, journalist, filmmaker and activist on women’s rights and honor killings in Pakistan;
  • Julia Gillard, former Prime Minister of Australia on gender equality

Press Contact

The Rockefeller Foundation
Nick Spence
212-852-8287
nspence@rockfound.org