By Laura Ferreiro
The third annual Social Good Summit concluded yesterday, bringing together diplomats, non-profit organizations, musicians, actors, journalists, students and socially responsible businesses for three days of lively discussions about using technology to address global problems. The summit took place at 92Y Community Center in New York City, but the conversation extended far beyond the Big Apple, with participants joining remotely via digital meet-up platforms in far-flung cities including Beijing, Nairobi and Mogadishu.
The event — organized by the United Nations Foundation, Mashable, Ericsson and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation — boasted an incredible number of renowned speakers, including musician Peter Gabriel, actor and UNESCO Good Will Ambassador Forest Whitaker, singer and UNICEF ambassador Angelique Kidjo ambassador, two-time Pulitzer Prize-winning New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof, Olympic Gold Medalist Allyson Felix, Wikipedia Founder Jimmy Wales, author Deepak Chopra, actors America Ferrera, Maria Bello, Mira Sorvino and Alexis Bledel — and surprise appearances by renowned primatologist and UN Peace Messenger Jane Goodall and World Bank President Jim Yong Kim, to name but a few.
The Summit, strategically held during UN Week, brought together global leaders, artists and NGOs to discuss how to use technology to solve the world’s greatest challenges and make the world a better place. Many notable insights were shared about how to use technology to wipe out diseases and help put an end to world poverty and hunger. It even showed how mobile phone technology and social gaming can help women in developing countries learn how and when to get their children vaccinated and teach them life-saving lessons about good hygiene and nutrition.
There were too many highlights and memorable quotes to mention them all, but here are a few stand-outs:
78-year-old Jane Goodall mixing beats with DJ Apple Juice Kid.
Famed Swedish statistician Hans Rosling bringing UNICEF’s stats about child mortality to life, and making them both informative and inspiring.
“My mom always told me to use my brain, but to make sure it’s linked to my heart.” –Angelique Kidjo, UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador, singer and songwriter
“What would it take to end poverty before it’s expected to end? Every country can achieve prosperity…never again should a country be called a basket case.” –Jim Yong Kim, President of The World Bank
“You serve best by doing the thing you love most.” –Maria Bello, Ambassador for Haitian Women.
“One thing the humanitarian world doesn’t do well is marketing. As a journalist, I get pitched everyday by companies that have new products. Meanwhile, you have issues like clean water, literacy for girls and female empowerment. People flinch at the idea of marketing these because marketing sounds like something only companies do…we need to figure out how to reach people who don’t care about these issues and get them to care.” –Nicholas Kristof, New York Times columnist
“Social media forces you to distill your message and call to action.” --Claire Diaz-Ortiz, lead social innovator at Twitter
“We should leverage new technologies to create powerful networks and expand beyond our existing networks.” –Danah Boyd, senior researcher at Microsoft
“Women’s issues are directly related to water issues. If we don’t address water issues [in developing countries], girls won’t be able to go to school.” –Brooke Loughrin, United Nations
“In the digital age, ordinary people can do much more than anytime before.” –Minister Włodzimierz Cimoszewicz, former prime minister of Poland
“We have to open our eyes not just to what’s going on in other places; we need to open our eyes to what’s going on right in front of us.” –Forest Whitaker, actor and UNESCO goodwill ambassador
“Social networks are the extensions of our minds. We’re seeing the evolution of human identity into a global identity. It’s inevitable—it’s the next phase of evolution of the human species.” –Deepak Chopra, Author and Founder of the Chopra Foundation
“We’re living in a moment where anyone can be a diplomat—all you have to do is hit send. Share your ideas, mobilize your friends, take action online and off.” –Secretary of State Hilary Clinton
“Concentrate on the world’s problems and how to design businesses to solve them. You don’t have to solve the whole world’s problems – start by solving the problems of 5-10 people.” –Nobel Peace Prize recipient Muhammad Yunus