Reflections from the Social Good Summit

By Rachana Kumar(LinkedIn)

SGS_1In late September, I attended the 2013 Social Good Summit in New York City. Held at the 92nd Street Y in partnership with Mashable, the United Nations Foundation, Ericsson and The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the Social Good Summit is a three-day global conversation on how social media and technology can help solve some of the world’s most pressing challenges. Organizers describe it as a space where “big ideas meet new media to create innovative solutions.”

It is an highly intense three-day summit and covered a wide variety of global challenges ranging from poverty, global health, climate change, energy, sustainability, education, gender inequality and others. The speakers are invited onto the stage for a 5-20 minute talk or a panel. Speakers are inspirational and force you to think hard to take action. But nonstop information without any break can be overwhelming. Even though I met a large number of wonderful online social good bloggers, I would encourage more interactions and breakout sessions.

I can vouch for more breakout sessions as my highlight of the summit were the 2 round table panels I was invited to by Ericsson.IMG_20130922_163902_613 The first round table was on “Broadband and sustainable development” with Hans Vestberg, Ericsson President and CEO, Jeffrey Sachs, Director Earth Institute and Anne Bouverot, CEO GSMA. Other than learning about the amazing technology for good work by Ericsson my favorite quote was by Anne Bouverot “Mobiles can be used to do good, e.g education, not only to play AngryBirds” and Jeffery Sachs “Every single post 2015 goal depends on technology.”

The second panel was perhaps the most inspiring time in all 3 days for me. When Sam Okello, Founder Hope North, said from his own personal experience that, “when you’re cut away for your people your cut away from your life,” I had goose bumps listening to him talk. The amazing work he is done in collaboration with Ericsson made me realize that there is hope for technology to enable peace and stability.

IMG_20130923_180519_004As Vice President of New Media Task Force (NMTF) the most memorable aspect of the summit for me will be meeting NMTF alum Sawaki Sonoyama and watching NMTF founding advisor Patricia Mechael speak. As Patricia Mechael said “Mobile tech allows us to reach populations we couldn’t before & help transform lives” My take away from the summit was that technology is a great enabler to reach our end goal but a lot more needs to be don’t to reach the goal.

More Info about the summit 

This year’s theme was #2030NOW – “How can new technology and new media create solutions for the biggest problems facing my community and create a better future by the year 2030?” The focus was whether digital solutions we are creating are sustainable for the future.

As a technology professional and a graduate student from School of International and Public Affairs at Columbia University, I was beyond excited about the summit. Technology for development and social good is my passion and hearing from visionaries such as Melinda Gates, Al Gore, Malala Yousafzai, Sir Richard Branson, Jeffery Sachs, Hans Vestberg, US Ambassador Samantha Power, President of the Rockefeller Foundation Judith Rodin, President of the World Bank Dr. Jim Yong Kim and others was truly thought provoking and inspiring.598568_10153297503205085_217028090_n

Even though the summit is held in New York it is global movement aimed at both online and offline users worldwide. From Brussels to Bangalore, Manila to Miami, Toronto to Tashkent, there were more than 150 meetups planned in nearly 100 countries. It was live streamed in 120 countries and translated into seven languages. The overarching ideas revolved around Big Data, Corporate Social Responsibility, Youth Empowerment and the importance of Taking Action.