Homelessness in MadagascarMadagascar is an island of abundant resources and wildlife, yet remains one of the poorest countries in the world. The African country experiences high rates of poverty and vulnerability since it gained independence in 1960. It possesses a complex history of poor leadership, inadequate infrastructure and economic colonialism that continues to negatively affect its population today, specifically resulting in an issue with homelessness in Madagascar.

The Causes of Homelessness

Its geographical location off the Southern African coast makes Madagascar susceptible to natural disasters, such as severe hurricanes, floods and droughts. Unpredictable weather persists, not only destroying homes but also leading to detrimental effects on food supply, health pandemics and overall quality of life. More than 50 natural disasters have impacted Madagascar’s homelessness rate in the last 35 years.

For example, in 2019, a cyclone killed two people and left 1,400 people homeless. Two years prior, an even more powerful storm left 247,000 people without shelter. However, some villages like Antanandava rallied together to rebuild as a community.

Chaotic weather patterns also impact the key drivers of economic growth namely, agriculture, fishing and forestry. While agriculture can sometimes reap the rewards of extreme weather, like heavy rain on crops, droughts on the other hand dry up rice plants, leaving workers with a much lower income. According to a 2017 study, this inconsistent economic growth creates patterns of financial insecurity and failure to diminish the homeless population in rural communities.

Unequal Housing

While some are able to rebuild their homes after a disaster, others are left destitute. More than 65% of the population lives in rural areas, where poverty is significantly higher than in urban regions and where most of the working-age populace resides. Homes in rural communities are mostly built of local materials such as cheap wood or mud, leaving thousands of individuals homeless after one intensive environmental hazard. Southern and coastal areas are usually the first to get hit by a weather crisis, damaging homes instantaneously. This creates a widespread housing shortage and results in the displacement of many Malagasy people.

Solutions

In an effort to fight this consequence of poverty, homelessness in Madagascar has become a priority in the eyes of the World Bank Group which partners with other organizations to offer aid. The organization currently invests a combined $1.28 billion across all 15 of its programs working to reform multiple sectors of Madagascar, including energy, education and health crises. The WBG, in collaboration with the Country Partnership Framework, has created economic objectives to accomplish in its plan for 2017-2021. Some initiatives include strengthening households living in poverty and upgrading means of transportation and energy. In 2019, over 783,000 Malagasy families’ incomes stabilized, allowing them to start businesses and secure their residences.

In addition, aid from UNDP began in 2015 and the long-term goals include ending all poverty, generating universal access to clean water and nurturing sustainable communities. Achieving these goals will ensure that families will gain new homes of their own and be able to maintain them.

Homelessness in Madagascar is a complex problem with many economic and domestic factors contributing to the issue. It continues to be an urgent threat to the lives of its citizens, creating harmful short- and long-term effects. However, with the improvements made thus far, the future for Madagascar is hopeful.

– Radley Tan
Photo: Flickr

Tuberculosis in DjiboutiTuberculosis (TB) is an infection caused by Mycobacterium tuberculosis. In addition to airborne spread, TB can be transmitted through unpasteurized milk contaminated with Mycobacterium bovis. This infection attacks the respiratory system, but in extreme cases, it can impact the central nervous system, bones, joints, lymphatic system and urogenital area. It’s a disease that is endemic in Djibouti, a country in eastern Africa. 

Infection Rates and Spending Levels

From 2000 to 2018, there were two peak levels of tuberculosis in Djibouti — one in 2001, and the other in 2010. In these years, Djibouti hit 716 cases of TB per 100,000 people and 621 cases per 100,000 people, respectively. As of 2018, TB rates were the lowest they had been in since 2000, at only 260 cases per 100,000 people. That being said, TB has remained the number four cause of death in Djibouti since 2007.

Despite the fact that deaths have increased, health data analyzers seem optimistic that the incidence of TB will decline as more funding goes toward health in Djibouti. In 2016, only $66 was spent per person on health. By 2050, experts predict that spending will rise to $87 per person. This increase will largely come from expanded development assistance and a rise in government spending on health — predicted to jump from $35 per person in 2016 to $48 in 2050. With more money being put into the health of citizens, it will be easier to get and keep people healthy. If someone does contract TB, there will be more money allotted for their treatment. Increased health funding will also allow for more community outreach and education around the spread and treatment of TB. If someone contracts TB and cannot get to a medical facility, they will at least have tools to keep themselves healthy and ensure that their case doesn’t spread. 

Refugees and Tuberculosis in Djibouti

Refugees account for nearly 3% of Djibouti’s population. Most refugees come from neighboring countries raging with war. Djibouti’s refugee camps are small, cramped and perfect breeding grounds for TB. While things may seem bleak, there is hope. The government in Djibouti is working with multiple NGOs to bring awareness and treatment to TB in refugee camps. UNDP has partnered with UNHCR and the Global Fund to address tuberculosis in Djibouti. So far, they have provided treatment for 850,000 TB patients, as well as 19,139 patients with drug-resistant TB. The work of NGOs has allowed families to stay with the sick during treatment, without fear of contracting the infection.

The goal of this partnership is to end TB in Djibouti by 2030 — an ambitious goal, but one that is potentially attainable as support and funding help to educate, treat and provide support for the people who need it. While treatment is important, however, these NGOs have also shown that community outreach programs aimed at teaching people how to avoid TB are just as vital in stopping the spread of the disease.

The tuberculosis crisis in Djibouti has been a lasting one. Thanks to recent investments by the government, new technologies to combat TB and organizations helping contain the refugee TB crisis, there is hope for the future of this country and its citizens.

Maya Buebel
Photo: Flickr

Eradicating Poverty Through ICTs
Internet and Communication Technologies (ICT) are social networking websites, instant messaging programs, cell phones and other technologies that allow people to communicate quickly and globally. Information emanates through these technologies allowing developing countries to step into the digital world. Eradicating poverty through ICTs now seems plausible as citizens include themselves in new economic and coordinated opportunities.

ICTs’ Range of Impact

In the Asia-Pacific, governments utilize ICTs to expand markets and introduce services. They have adapted to using e-commerce, supporting businesses that allow more people to become engaged with the government and programs. New strategies constantly emerge as Asian-Pacific authorities and organizations address poverty.

Bangladesh

The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) provides solutions globally for poverty and these differ depending on the country. In Bangladesh, the UNDP pushed an initiative called the Access to Information Act or the a2i. The main focus of this act is to offer citizens the right to public information, allowing multiple interpretations for data such as records. By implementing this act, Bangladesh has reduced the costs of access to health and education information services. The amount of time it took for residents to receive information on their phones or computers dropped by 85 percent and the cost dropped by 63 percent. Digitization of rural areas has saved the local residents half a billion dollars.

Vietnam

The UNDP focuses on e-government policies. According to the United Nations, e-government encompasses the delivery and exchange of information between government and citizens. Vietnam now supports online businesses and allows people to pay taxes over the computer. Services, as an effect, run more efficiently and people have more ready access to transfers or deposits. The number of internet broadband subscribers reached 11.5 million and many expect it to grow 9 percent annually along with 47.2 million on cellular data due to the rapid growth of applications. ICTs affect the way the country runs as well; towns have adopted ICTs, using them in creative ways to provide water and electricity.

Taiwan

Recently, Taiwan has grown into a major manufacturer of ICTs, leading to the export of its products. The Cloud Computing Association of Taiwan (CCAT) devotes itself to making the country an exporter of cloud software. At home, these developed cloud systems save service providers 50 percent, avoiding the need to purchase from overseas. The country’s National Communications Commission proposes to provide all of its citizens with ICTs. It appoints companies to offer universal broadband access to mountain villages, projected to make Taiwan the first country with complete internet coverage. Rural peoples have access to data, and the government offers programs to teach rural residents how to properly use technologies, adapting more to the digital age, helping the goal of eradicating poverty through ICTs.

How ICTs Affect Poverty in the Long Run

The UNDP believes that ICTs should create a direct change in the economy and welfare of various nations. However, failure to address the issue to all people in a country, globally too, creates a gap between those accustomed to technology and those who are not. To continue on the path of eradicating poverty through ICTs, governments must continue to pledge support and work with organizations. The countries above benefit by having their governments providing opportunities to learn new technology as well as adapting technology for other everyday services.

Daniel Bertetti
Photo: Flickr

Girls' Education in Micronesia

Located in the northern region of Oceania, the Federated States of Micronesia is comprised of the island country, Nauru, and four prominent island states: the Marshall Islands, the Gilbert Islands, the Caroline Islands and the Mariana Islands. Modern education in the islands has grown leaps and bounds from its initial introduction via Japan during World War I, especially once the region became Americanized at the conclusion of World War II. With this American aid, the development of girls’ education in Micronesia began to grow swiftly and has continued ever since.

Millenium Development Goals (MDGs)

According to a status report released by the United Nations Development Programme in 2010, the gap between male and female enrollment in Micronesian schools began to close after signing the Millennium Declaration. In 2009, the ratio of girls to boys in primary education was 0.96, compared to the ratio of 0.92 in 1994. In the same year, the ratio of girls to boys in secondary education was 1.02, and the ratio of girls to boys enrolled in the College of Micronesia was 1.14.

Despite this improvement, girls still scored lower than their male peers, though not by much. The same study shows that in the 2008-2009 school year, while boys garnered an average 65 percent test score, girls scored an average of 61 percent, pegging the overall test score at 62 percent.

Chuuk Women’s Council

Chuuk, one of the four Federated States of Micronesia, had become home to many different non-governmental organizations all throughout the 1980s. In 1984, these organizations began to congregate; by 1993, they had totally coalesced to create bigger waves and to form what is known as the Chuuk Women’s Council (CWC).

Currently, the council is spearheaded by Christina “Kiki” Sinnett. In an Office of Minority Health blog post, Sinnett wrote, “The biggest challenge for women in Chuuk is access to education. Unfortunately, in many Chuukese households, girls are overlooked by parents when it comes to education decisions, meaning that they may do whatever it takes to educate their sons, often at the expense of their daughters’ education.”

She further elucidates that many programs the CWC offers are engineered for disenfranchised women who never got the chance to complete their schooling.

Although Chuuk has the highest student populous of all the Micronesian states, the mean amount of time a Micronesian adult spends in school 9.7 years; the United States’ mean amount time spent in school, however, is 12.9 years. This contrast means that while education globally falls short, girls’ education in Micronesia is utterly abysmal.

Promoting Female Wellness

The CWC doesn’t restrict itself to traditional educational lessons. The Shinobu M. Poll Memorial Center triples as a rendezvous for the council’s annual conferences, an educational domain and a wellness center for women. Within the premises, cancer screenings are performed, a dialogue regarding reproduction/reproductive safety is alive, and the doors to HIV tests are open.

In their Healthy Lifestyles Program, the CWC combats tuberculosis as multidrug-resistant tuberculosis promotes abstinence — Chuuk has the highest teen pregnancy rate of all the federated states. The organization also provides reading material for those in need of health-related education.

Another major staple of the CWC is advocacy work, especially regarding violence surrounding women. The establishment lobbied heavily for the age of consent to be legally altered from 13 years old to 18 years old within the nation’s regions.

With much work still left to do and many left uneducated on the harsh realities women face daily in the Federal States of Micronesia, the CWC also stands for “community policing” in their areas. Community policing is, essentially, the spreading of information and reporting of sexual misconduct to expel ignorance and miseducation from the community.

Girls’ Education In Micronesia

Sinnett, who succeeded her mother (the memorial center’s namesake) as CWC president, grew up an active fly on the wall of the nursing lifestyle. “I got to watch her go to work every day,” Sinnet told the Rural Health Information Hub, speaking of her late mother, “care for others, and be a valuable member of our local community.”

This conduct acted as a catalyst for her to become involved herself, and push to ameliorate girls’ education in Micronesia.

– Jordan De La Fuente
Photo: Flickr

goal 4
The United Nations Development Program (UNDP) is in charge of the implementation of 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) approved by the United Nations in 2016 to improve economic, social and political stability around the world through 2030.

The Millennium Goals Program

The goals range from clean water and sanitation, to increasing infrastructure and industrial development in cities. These new sustainable development goals are a legacy built from the UNDP Millenium Goals Program (MDGs) and strive to continue to the success of the older program.

The Millennium Goal program took place from 2000 to 2015 and its key achievements claimed by the UNDP are:

  • More than one billion people have been lifted out of poverty since 1990
  • Child mortality has dropped by more than half since 1990 along with the number of children out of school
  • The total number of HIV/AIDS infections has fallen by nearly 40 percent since 2000

While the UNDP claims that the United Nations Millennium Development Goals strategy is the most successful sustainable development project in history, the organization did state that there were lessons to be learned and more work to be done for future global endeavors. While many of the MDGs were interconnected, similarly to the SDGs, the MDG’s Goal 2 was to achieve universal primary education.

Goal 2 was largely successful. The literacy rate of people ages 15 to 24 was increased from 83 percent to 91 percent from 1990 to 2000 but the gaps between wealthy students and impoverished students and urban students and rural students still remain.

A Focus on Education

Goal 4 of the U.N. Sustainable Development Goal strategy aims to combat this disparity by providing quality education. This task has numerous targets that it plans to reach by 2030 (the end of the program), and one that it plans to reach by 2020. The full list can be found on the UNDP’s Goal 4 targets page.

 Many of these targets make sure that not just boys and men receive help in their education process, but that girls and women do as well. For example, targets one and two specifically state boys and girls in regard to education in their wordings. Target one aims to provide better education and preparedness so that both girls and boys are able to complete free primary and secondary education.

Target two aims to provide early education so that children will have a better chance of completing their primary education. The third target aims to ensure the continuing education of men and women, and hopes to ease their access to tertiary education, such as technical schools, vocational schools and college.

Sustainable Development Goal 4

When searching for statistics about the accomplishments of Goal 4 thus far, it is difficult to see the impact. But it is important to remember that this program is a mere two years old.

Worldwide education statistics will still look similar to the end of the MDG program. However, one can see the seedlings that will sprout in the future and benefit individuals and society as a direct result of Goal 4. In fact, this fruition has already begun — India made Goal 4 part of their country’s “Vision 2030,” or the domestic plan for their future.

Strides in Educational Programs and Infrastructure

On September 1, 2016, or National Teachers day, a coalition program was launched by the government of India, private companies and the U.N. in which students will learn about the 17 Goals through cartoons and comics. These cartoons will be produced in six different languages and be shown in school and distributed around the country.

In 2015, Buenos Aires, Argentina founded a multilingual school, and despite common misconception, the school is not a Spanish to English school as many think. The school is actually a cooperation between Buenos Aires and Beijing that offers classes in the native languages of both countries — Spanish and Guarani for Argentina, and Mandarin and Cantonese for China. This initiative fits into both Goal 4 and Goal 17 of global integration.

Global Goals and Steps for Change

These are not the only initiatives related to Goal 4 implemented by countries looking to improve life for their citizens — SDG funding in Columbia is being used to improve rural education; funding in Mozambique is increasing access to professional training; and in Sri Lanka, food quality at schools is being improved.

With the U.N. groundwork, and cooperation and initiative taken by countries on Goal 4, it is easy to see how it will improve education around the world. 

– Nick DeMarco
Photo: Flickr

Development Assistance Committee
The Development Assistance Committee is an arm of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). Founded in 1961 by the OECD to better organize and execute its agenda, the Development Assistance Committee also has the duty of innovating and monitoring future and ongoing development projects.

These projects target sustainable economic growth in countries who seek the committee’s aid. It also monitors how members of the committee and the OECD use development aid. The Development Assistance Committee is made up of 30 member nations, as opposed to the OECD’s 35 members.

The World Bank, the International Monetary Fund and the UNDP are all observing members of the committee. The members, along with the observing members of the Development Assistance Committee form the world’s leading forum for bilateral economic development and cooperation. It is known for its neutrality.

Official Development Assistance is the or ODA is the term used by the Development Assistance Committee (DAC) to define all assistance rendered by member nations that target sustainable economic development. Due to the fact that the Committee is dedicated to furthering bilateral relations between member nations and nations it deems in need of assistance, ODA is not the only form of aid.

Member nations foster development in areas that are important to their national agendas. For example, Canada, which is a member of the DAC, will focus its foreign aid towards girls’ and women’s rights over the next five years. Denmark, another member nation, will be spending much of its aid in combating the refugee crisis.

This is not the only difference between member nations. Because there is no legally binding agreement holding a nation to the amount of money it must spend each year, there is a wide range in the percentage of assistance money spent. The DAC uses a percentage of a nation’s gross national income.

In 2014, Sweden, Luxembourg, Norway and Denmark all donated more than 0.07 percent of their GNI, a target set in 1974 by the DAC. Germany spent 0.04 percent of its GNI on foreign aid and South Korea spent just 0.01 percent.

The OECD agenda is mostly economic. They focus on economic stability within nations. Currently, it is focusing on re-establishing confidence in markets, promoting public financing as a strong driver of economic growth, developing green strategies for economic growth and ensuring job growth and security for people of all ages.

In 2016, saw the appointment of a new chair of the DAC, Petri Gornitzka, who was the former head of the Swedish Foreign Aid Agency. Gornitzka is pushing for reform within the DAC and she hopes to bring smaller member nations into the fold when making decisions about future projects and funding. She also plans to make the private sector a more viable partner.

In the 2016 DAC Global Plan, the DAC also states that it wants to survey nations who receive aid linked to the DAC on what can be improved. The DAC also plans to bring the smaller donors into the fold by helping them improve the effectiveness of their aid. This is also one of the incentives that the DAC boast to countries who wish to become members.

The last members who joined the committee were Iceland, the Czech Republic, the Slovak Republic, Poland and Slovenia in 2013 and Hungary in 2016. The European Union has made it a goal of all member nations to work towards joining the DAC.

Although the DAC does not do much direct work, its work behind the scenes promoting cooperation greatly benefits the world. The continued growth of the organization will also benefit the world. 

– Nick DeMarco
Photo: Flickr

 

Causes of Poverty in BurundiThe African nation of Burundi has had its share of troubles. It is one of the poorest countries in the world, with subsistence farmers making up 90 percent of the population. Despite its agricultural nature, Burundi is also one of the most population-dense nations in Africa. These reasons, along with years of civil war and hunger, are to blame for Burundi’s poverty.

The Burundian Civil War, fought along ethnic lines from 1993 until its formal conclusion in 2005, is one of the main reasons for Burundi’s poverty. From 1994 to 2006, poverty increased from 48 to 67 percent.

Another reason for the poverty in Burundi is rising food prices coupled with high population growth. Due to this, 53 percent of Burundian children suffer from stunted growth caused by malnourishment.

Natural disasters such as drought threaten Burundi’s critical agricultural sector, as well as the erosion and over-cultivation caused by poor farming techniques. Furthermore, because of the subsistence nature of much of the farming in Burundi, farmers often live on a small income, which also means they have little capital to invest in improved farming techniques or equipment, such as fertilizer.

While there are many reasons for the poverty in Burundi, there have also been a number of proposed remedies. The government has established Vision 2025 in cooperation with the United Nations Development Programme and the African Future Institute and is seeking to reduce poverty to 33 percent by that year. The plan focuses on everything from sustainable land use to better governance and social cohesion. The government has also expanded various child protection measures and, in 2005, made primary education free. In addition, UNICEF has passed out nets laced with insecticide in an effort to fight malaria in Burundi and has helped the country expand its school infrastructure, including building 387 classrooms.

There is no doubt that many of the reasons for Burundi’s poverty are grave. However, the nation’s government seems to be aware that it has its work cut out for itself, and is taking the appropriate steps to rectify the situation on all fronts.

Andrew Revord

Photo: Flickr

Poverty in Moldova

If ever there were a time capsule left in the world, it would be Moldova. Pictures of Moldovans in traditional clothes, locals driving horse-drawn carriages and a country dedicated to agriculture and the production of wine are among the first photos that come up in an image search. Though online photographs of Moldova are charming, poverty in Moldova has been a definitive characteristic of the nation since its independence from the Soviet Union in 1991. What was once a wealthy state became the poorest country in Europe after Soviet liberation.

The Statistics
According to The World Bank, Moldova has experienced economic growth and a significant poverty reduction since the start of the millennium.

Poverty in Moldova has dropped from 30 percent in 2006 to 9.6 percent in 2015. The percentage of those living on less than $1.90 a day has dropped from 39.1 percent in 1999 to zero. At its peak, the poverty rate for those living on $5 a day was at 90.4 percent in the year 2000. It has since dropped to 16.3 percent.

Remittance and pensions are responsible for lifting 51.6 percent of families out of poverty, and pensions are sustaining the aging population.

These two factors are acknowledged as the main drivers of economic growth. In fact, the Republic of Moldova is one of the few European countries that recognizes remittances as a main influencer of the economy, accounting for 26 percent of gross domestic product in 2014.

Challenges Halting Further Progress
Unfortunately, exporting labor leads to the issue of weak labor markets. Labor and demand are some of the challenges that plague Moldova and inhibit its economic progress, keeping poverty a constant.

Dependence on remittance weakens the industrial market and keeps the Moldovan economy in a cycle that increases the trade deficit and proves remittance to be untenable.

Despite an increase in those attaining higher education, younger generations are having a difficult time finding specialized occupations that are not farm-based. Post-secondary education is not a guarantee of a better job, as the business industry is not creating long-lasting positions and many firms do not typically subsist themselves.

Moving Forward
Improving the industrial state of affairs in the nation will continue to decrease poverty in Moldova.

Alex Kremer, the Country Manager for Moldova, told the World Bank that “urbanization, connectivity and off-farm jobs are the best escape routes from poverty”.

The United Nations Development Programme has innovative business development in place for local sustainable economic growth. This project is designed to facilitative innovative business development for new and existing businesses to generate internal economic development and growth in the job market.

So far, the program has already granted 83 private sector companies innovation awards and produced a campaign focused on the employability of Moldovan youth.

The initiative is scheduled to end in 2017, but with movements like this, the future of poverty in Moldova will surely improve.

Sloan Bousselaire

Photo: Flickr

UNDP Supports Universal Immunization Program in IndiaWith high risks of communicable diseases like bacterial diarrhea, malaria, hepatitis A and E and typhoid, there’s a rising necessity for a proper immunization program in India. The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) has partnered with the Indian government and Ministry of Health and Family Welfare to design and put into effect an Electronic Vaccine Intelligence Network (eVIN). This project, known as Improving Efficiency of Vaccination Systems in Multiple States, has already run since 2014 and is to run until 2021 to strengthen the evidence base for policy-making related to vaccine delivery, procurement and planning, and ensure equity in availability.

As the world’s largest immunization program, eVIN technology has already shown results in enabling real time information on cold chain temperatures and vaccine stocks and flows in all 371 implementing districts in India. It has managed to achieve over a 98 percent reporting rate from vaccine storage areas, with over 2 million transactions logged each month, and developed the skills of over 17,000 government staff in store keeping, data operating or cold chain handling in over 550 batches of training programs.

The eVIN is setup on a mobile application that easily allows cold chain handlers to log stock positions at the end of each routine immunization day, which is then relayed immediately onto a web interface for assessment by health officials. In India, this can come to play an important role as geography and communications can pose an issue, like in the small hill-state of Manipur, where vaccine vials are carried over extensive distances to session sites by auxiliary nurses and midwives. Instances of stock-outs have decreased by more than six times here, and eVIN has enabled staff to learn how to use a smartphone and other technology, improving quality of work and management in the process.

This immunization program in India has also significantly empowered women health workers, giving them the opportunity to work with technology after attending regional and district eVIN training sessions. This allows them to manage stocks and temperatures themselves, bridges the digital divide in rural parts of India and ensures transparency alongside accuracy. Over 50 percent of cold chain handlers are women, and many are from older age groups.

EVin has taken India out of the unproductive days of delayed decision making, shortages and expirations, and has created an efficient health system that allows for valuable state-wide geographic, stock-out or excess stock and temperature overviews on each district’s centers. It also allows for large savings by reducing vaccine wastage and allowing for timely and quality injections, as in Rewa, where around $70,000 was saved after six months of eVIN activation.

Though led by the UNDP and Ministry of Health and Family Welfare in India, the Universal Immunization Program is largely supported by GAVI, a global vaccine alliance established in 2000. With support from GAVI and the Indian government, the Universal Immunization Program in India has immunized at least 65 percent of India‘s children and expects to immunize 27 million more each oncoming year.

Zar-Tashiya Khan

Photo: Flickr

Social Good Summit 2017Against the backdrop of a bustling New York City, several celebrities, social media influencers and representatives came together to discuss sustainability, technology and the future of the world. On September 16, 2017, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), 92Y and Mashable hosted the sixth annual Social Good Summit. The theme of the event #2030NOW evoked the question: what kind of changes await the world in 2030?

The 2030 theme serves as a benchmark for the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) first agreed upon in 2015. All 193 member states of the U.N. signed on to work towards goals such as eradicating poverty, encouraging sustainable economic growth and taking action against climate change. The Social Good Summit 2017 takes a look at the ways the world can make these achievements.

Attending the summit were some influential and familiar faces including actress Whoopi Goldberg, activist Deray McKesson and U.N. Youth Observer Munira Khalif.

Positive Change via Technology

A hot-button topic at the Social Good Summit 2017 was technology and the changing face of connection around the world. Many speakers specifically mentioned the role of technology in fostering movements around the world. Founder of Care2, Randy Paynter, led a talk concerning social good technology. Care2 is a platform that allows its users to sign petitions of causes they support.

Randy demonstrated how the platform he helped create makes strides in the fight against global poverty. With Amazon Alexa’s new social good skill, he showcased the Care2’s donation capabilities and ended up donating to the U.N. Foundation. Throughout his presentation, he stressed how easy it has become to play a part in the movement to help the 800 million people living in extreme poverty.

Pushing for Equality

Another important issue at the summit revolved around SDG #5: gender equality. Speakers discussed everything from health to religion. SafeCity developer Elsa Marie D’Silva and director Ilwad Elman spoke about the importance of creating spaces for women at risk of violence. Within the context of the shocking statistics surrounding rape and sexual harassment around the world, the women detailed their ways of trying to end gender-based violence.

Elsa Marie D’Silva developed a nonprofit and an application that maps sexual violence and harassment in India. Ilwad Elman created one of the first rape-crisis centers in Somalia, which has now turned into a human rights center. Both women emphasized how important it is to create a dialogue around sexual violence and harassment in different countries. Elsa Marie D’Silva stated that normalizing the topic will help create change from the bottom. At the same time, Ilwad Elman made the point that even audience members could do their part and spread the messages through advocacy.

Help for Humanity

Another notable segment of the Social Good Summit 2017 featured Khaled Khatib and Mounir Mustafa, members of the Syrian Civil Defense, also known as the “White Helmets.” The White Helmets are a group of civilians on the ground in Syria, who risk their lives to help rescue victims of attacks in the country. The men stated that the war in Syria took lives regardless of people’s political affiliation, so they choose to save lives regardless of their political affiliation.

Mounir Mustafa made the point that because of the way the war captured the country, saving citizens is necessary, not optional. Khaled Khatib, only 22 years old, felt that he needed to be involved in the work in order to document the things they see. Both the men stressed that hope is important for victims in this war and any war around the world. This segment showcased both the importance of the Syrian conflict to the world and the resilience and persistence of the people in the middle of it.

The Social Good Summit 2017 created a space for people from all walks of life and careers to come together and speak on how they would like to see the world in 2030. It helped take another step in the direction of creating a collaborative, open-source conversation about sustainable development.

Selasi Amoani

Photo: Flickr