I just wrapped up two days at the annual Social Good Summit in New York City. While I have been attending the SGS for the past five years, this year had particular meaning as I was asked to be a United Nations Foundations Fellow. I was given special access to speakers and exclusive events going on around the conference and that was very invigorating, both as a writer and cause marketer. To get up close and personal to many of the people behind major movements that are creating major change around the world was something special.
I’m a strong believer in using one’s voice for social good and I’ve enjoyed using this blog as just one of my many platforms to get word out about initiatives I believe can change the world, but best of all, it was magnificent to be in a room full of people who really care and make it their life work to plug into their passion and go out there and change the world.
Social Good Summit
This year’s Social Good Summit was abouthow we envision the planet in 2030. The conference took the Global Goals, which were created last year and went more into detail about how each goal is being carried out to bring a solution for each. Described as a blueprint for the future, the seventeen Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) with 169 targets address such daunting challenges as climate change, hunger, education, gender equality, sanitation, jobs, justice and shared peace.
I was curious to see how the UN was faring with the mission of carrying out these goals. And while I’m not here to say I definitively can not answer that question, I am here to say that things are happening and that a lot of work is being done in all of the seventeen areas. This year’s attendees were urged to examine how they could play a role in the 2030 agenda. By using our passions, communities and skills, we can push the agenda so much further than ever before. I believe that the Social Good Summit remains a necessity.
Here were a few of my takeaways from the conference and what inspired me. There was a lot to digest in a few days, but here’s what I’m thinking about here and now and what’s motivating me.
The world is finally ready to help refugees. Finally.
It was only one year ago that the world was presented with the devastating photo of Alan Kurdi, a three-year-old Syrian boy of Kurdish ethnic background whose image made global headlines after he drowned in the Mediterranean Sea. The image of his father holding his body resonated around the world and was a wake-up call about the refugee crisis. However, one year later, the situation has worsened considerably. We heard that there are 65 million refugees who need help, and 50% of that number is children. The situation is dire. Obama was in NYC to attend a conference addressing this huge problem. Members of Olympian Team Refugee were at the Summit. The situation was mentioned throughout the conference and is clearly one of the UN’s current main initiatives.
What do I plan on doing? I am working to bring my local community into the international conversation. Stay tuned for this space as I will share details as the situation develops further.
Gender Equality remains a priority.
As SDG #5, a lot of the sessions were focused on gender equality and giving the voiceless a voice. YouTube personalities Jazz Jennings and Ingrid Nilsen spoke out about the state of global equity for the LGBTQ community and how that is being represented in media. Journalist Barkha Dutt spoke with former leaders of Malawi and New Zealand, Dr. Joyce Banda and Helen Clark. Both of these former leaders shared their experiences ruling their respected nations as women and the hardships they faced during their run.
What do I plan on doing? Educating myself. Inspiring my 13-year old daughter. Making sure our next U.S. President is a woman.
Real issues are being tackled.
In some cases, famous people came to talk about causes of importance to them. Talk about using your platform wisely. The Vice President spent about 40 minutes educating the audience on his Cancer Moonshot initiative, which aims to eradicate cancer from society by improving research, patient care and more. As a cancer survivor, his words meant a heck of a lot to me. When he leaves office, he’s going to do so much for this world. Demi Lovato opened up about mental illness and substance abuse. She was frank and very, very real about her battle. Singer Cody Simpson addressed the issue of climate change and what should be done to save the ecosystem. Comedienne Chelsea Handler discussed using her new Netflix show to make a difference, moving her away from the world of celebrity gossip to something more substantial.
What do I plan on doing? Just as VP Biden spoke out and stood for a cause he so sincerely believes in and has a personal connection to, so do I. I am a cancer survivor and I’ve been quiet to date. It may be time to stand up and speak out to help other people.
Social media matters.
From #BlackLivesMatter to #2030NOW, hashtags were flying, and words and messages were being broadcast around the world. I’ve raised money for so many causes and raised so much awareness using my platform. The world has finally seemed to wake up to the fact that this new medium can spread messages faster than every before.
What do I plan on doing? Well, that’s obvious herebut I do have access to many other platforms and I’ll strive to use them further.
Education, education, education.
The best thing we can offer any marginalized person is an education. It was really the WORD of the moment as education can save refugees from poverty, young girls from slavery, and it can create leaders, both male and female, all over the world.
What do I plan on doing? Finishing my Masters, for one thing.
Technology is key.
We were constantly told about new start-ups, new initiatives being created to spark action. The invention of the cell phone has really moved the needle on just about everything. There is so much more possibility than ever before as a result and every year the focus on tech gets deeper and deeper.
What do I plan on doing? Staying on top of technology advances that can save the world.
Citizen Journalism is alive and kicking.
Have a passion for a cause and want to do more than you’re doing? Social media is the best way to spread the word.
What do I plan on doing? Making my voice heard wherever I can on issues that matter most to me.
More younger people are coming to the table than ever. And they are changing the world.
We were introduced to a Memory Banda, who when faced with the prospect of marriage and children at a very young age, decided to take her fate into her own hands, ultimately convincing 60 chiefs to pass by-lows that have protected four million girls from child marriage in Malawi. Throughout the conference, young people were on stage, inspiring us. We were introduced to 17 U.N. Young Leaders who were selected from more than 18,000 applicants for their leadership on efforts to achieve the goals.
What do I plan on doing? Making my kids two of these change makers.
I can’t wait to see what 2017 brings and what progress will be made in the next 12 months. I’m inspired.
Disclosure: I was invited to attend the SGS as a fellow but I was not asked to write anything in particular. All opinions are my own.