At the Paris Peace Forum, grassroots activists highlight urgent issues

At the Paris Peace Forum, grassroots activists highlight urgent issues

Global gatherings like the UN General Assembly, Munich Security Conference, and the World Economic Forum have no shortage of power players engaged in very high-level discussion and debate about the state of the world. The Paris Peace Forum, which wrapped this weekend in the City of Lights, is no exception. The host country’s President Emmanuel Macron was on deck to chat about climate change with Prime Minister Mia Mottley of Barbados. Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky joined via video to remind everyone at the Peace Forum that a war still rages 1200 miles away, and former New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern warned of the dangers of extremist content online.

But the gathering in Paris also put grassroots activists front and center, literally. As you entered the Palais Brongniart, the stunning 19th-century structure that has served as home to the PPF since its inception in 2018, the first sight was a sea of kiosks, each staffed by representatives from more than 50 organizations from around the world who are working at local levels to combat the most pressing problems of our time.


One Qatar-based organization funds projects that promote female leadership—from farms to small business ownership. Another group based in Helsinki is training people in Ukraine to process evidence and testimony of Russian war crimes. From climate change to responsible AI, many of the conversations in the foyer of the palace were as captivating as the ones happening on the main stage a flight below.

Each year, the PPF accepts applications for its “Space for Solutions,” giving physical space inside the venue for these organizations to network with some of the most influential players on the planet.

Aurélie Villaespesa, Projects Officer at the Paris Peace Forum, explained to GZERO’s Tony Maciulis that more than 4000 organizations applied this year. Roughly 50 of the very best were invited to join the forum and share their work, message, and mission.

PPF gave GZERO a chance to roam through the space and meet some of the grassroots gamechangers proving that solutions don’t just come from inside the palace—they often rise from the people.

More from Global Stage

Deepfakes and dissent: How AI makes the opposition more dangerous

Deepfakes and dissent: How AI makes the opposition more dangerous

Former US National Security Council advisor Fiona Hill has plenty of experience dealing with dangerous dictators – but 2024 is even throwing her some curveballs.

AI vs. truth: Battling deepfakes amid 2024 elections

AI vs. truth: Battling deepfakes amid 2024 elections

European Parliament member Eva Maydell said she fears we will soon be unable to separate fact from deepfake fiction.

AI at the tipping point: danger to information, promise for creativity

AI at the tipping point: danger to information, promise for creativity

Artificial intelligence is on everyone's mind these days. The potential for AI to mess up democracy is scary, but the truth is that it can also make the world a better place. So, are bots good or bad for us? We asked a few experts to weigh in during the Global Stage livestream conversation "Risks and Rewards of AI," hosted by GZERO in partnership with Microsoft at this year's World Economic Forum meeting in Davos, Switzerland.

How to protect elections in the age of AI

How to protect elections in the age of AI

GZERO Media, on the ground at the 2024 Munich Security Conference, held a Global Stage discussion on Feb. 17 entitled “Protecting Elections in the Age of AI.” We spoke with Brad Smith, vice chair and president of Microsoft; Ian Bremmer, president and founder of Eurasia Group and GZERO Media; Fiona Hill, senior fellow for the Center on the United States and Europe at Brookings; Eva Maydell, an EU parliamentarian and a lead negotiator of the EU Chips Act and Artificial Intelligence Act; Kersti Kaljulaid, the former president of Estonia; with European correspondent Maria Tadeo moderating. These thought leaders and experts discussed the implications of the rapid rise of AI amid this historic election year.

2024 is the ‘Voldemort’ of election years, says Ian Bremmer

2024 is the ‘Voldemort’ of election years, says Ian Bremmer

2024 is the ‘Voldemort’ of election years, says Ian Bremmer during a Global Stage panel at the Munich Security Conference.

Naming names: The nonprofit tracking corruption around the world

Naming names: The nonprofit tracking corruption around the world

What is the least corrupt country in the world? According to a Berlin-based nonprofit called Transparency International, that would be Denmark. Finland is close behind. At the very bottom of the list is Somalia, dead last out of 180 nations. Founded in 1993 by a retired World Bank Official, Transparency International operates in more than 100 countries, promoting accountability and exposing public sector corruption.

Digital Equity