This year’s Liberty Forum & Freedom Dinner, #LFFD18, brought together over 700 people from 56 countries to celebrate the victories toward freedom made in the past year, to discuss shared challenges, and to learn from one another how to most effectively advance free-market reforms. This important gathering was made possible by the generosity of many donors, with a special thanks to the Smith Family Foundation, John Templeton Foundation, and Templeton Religion Trust for funding key Atlas Network programs highlighted during Liberty Forum & Freedom Dinner. We also welcomed a number of freedom champions whose attendance had been underwritten by Alan Gibbs, Freda Utley Foundation, and The Lilly Endowment.
1. The most misty-eyed moment...
...came when the Egyptian Center for Public Policy studies was announced as the winner of Atlas Network’s prestigious $100,000 Templeton Freedom Award (sponsored by Templeton Religion Trust) for its inspiring work on budget reform and civic engagement in Egypt.
Our exciting new video and photo storytelling project was unveiled to a standing-room only crowd with stories from Peru and Argentina featuring the real people whose lives are made better by our partners’ work. One such person is Marisol in Pamplona Alta on the outskirts of Lima, Peru, who lacks access to running water. Learn how our partner is working to change that and doing development differently.
3. Longest standing ovation
Former Atlas Network President Alex Chafuen returned to the stage at Liberty Forum & Freedom Dinner to deliver the 6th annual Liggio Lecture. Before he could speak, however, he was welcomed by a thunderous standing ovation to recognize his decades of service to the worldwide freedom movement.
4. A Chinese 'Sonnet to Freedom'
Ma Junjie of ENC Centre for Global Affairs delivered a touching 'Sonnet to Freedom' he wrote to his young daughter while in New York. His Cornerstone Talk — in which some of the brightest think tank leaders share important, big ideas in 10 minutes or less — touched on the state of civil society in China.
5. Most efficient government…
…blackouts. They happen every day in Lebanon, without fail, we learned. Patrick Mardini of Lebanese Institute of Market Studies (LIMS) shared his compelling approach to solving the electricity crisis in Lebanon during the Global Policy Impact session discussing how policy change around the world can have dramatic effects on trade, growth, poverty, and investment.
6. Some people dropped the mic, this guy dropped the t-shirt
Fernando Henrique de Sousa Miranda of Students For Liberty Brasil won this year’s John Blundell Elevator Pitch competition, speaking about the cultural shift away from Che and toward free markets that Brazil has undergone in the last few years.
7. All eyes on Latin America
Atlas Network announced Dr. Roberto Salinas León as the director of its new Center for Latin America, which was officially launched during the pre-event to Freedom Dinner. The center will leverage Atlas Network’s nearly four decades of experience in the region and will work to promote peace, justice, and opportunity to all in a region in the midst of volatile change.
8. Serbian news outlet pitch wins 2018 Think Tank Shark Tank
Petar Čekerevac’s $25,000 winning pitch was for the ‘Talas’ online media outlet, which also won last year’s Europe Think Tank Shark Tank for its initial phase. The website already has 40,000 monthly visitors and has been quoted by leading national figures. It provides news and analysis from a classical liberal perspective. Runners-up of the competition were Marianna Brashear of FEE and Patrick Mardini of LIMS.
9. Who wants to be a trillionaire?
When speaking on the panel panel titled "Advancing Freedom in an Unfree World," Rejoice Ngwenya of the Coalition for Market and Liberal Solutions in Zimbabwe handed out 100 trillion Zimbabwean dollar bills to highlight the rampant inflation of the country and the need for sound money.
10. Communication key to advancing freedom
Storytelling & messaging was the name of the game this year at #LFFD18. The Lights, Camera, Liberty film festival — won by Becket's film about religious liberty in the military — was followed by Think Freely Media's Great Communicators Tournament, new to LFFD this year. The tournament was won by Peter Lipsett of DonorsTrust, who delivered a compelling pitch about the international aid community needing to rethink its approach to poverty alleviation.