Be the Change: Social Good Summit 2017
Against 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