Social Good Summit 2017: SDGs Are for All of Us

When the United Nations Foundation, 92nd Street Y, and Mashable teamed up for the first Social Good Summit in September 2010, they conceived of an event where global leaders came together to discuss how new media was driving innovative global solutions.

The scope of the Summit’s focus on innovation has since widened to take a broader view of technology as a function of global solutions, rather than just new media. And, for the last two years, with the United Nations Development Programme as an added partner, the summit has had an added level of urgency by highlighting challenges and solutions that address the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) officially adopted at the UN Sustainable Development Summit in September 2015. This year’s Social Good Summit was held at 92Y on September 17 in advance of this week’s United Nations General Assembly.

With 2030 as the target for the 17 global goals for sustainability, it’s easy to shelf the SDGs as concerns reserved for high-profile players in the global development, aid, health, and environmental communities. But conversations with more than 70 speakers throughout the Summit served to emphasize that everyone with a mission that involves improving human lives is probably keeping with one of the 169 targets outlined in the SDGs for 2030—whether they know it or not. As UN Foundation President and CEO Kathy Calvin said in a morning session of the summit, all of us are goalkeepers.

Calvin, also a member of Independent Sector’s Board of Directors, was joined by Muzoon Al-Mellehan—a Syrian refugee and the youngest-ever UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador—to make the case that the SDGs are about leaving no one behind.

Also memorable from the morning schedule of the Summit were appearances from two household-name artists who—throughout their careers—have also been recognized for their high-profile activism. Grateful Dead founding member Bob Weir delivered remarks after being named UN Development Programme Goodwill Ambassador. Not long after, Whoopi Goldberg joined Quinn Tivey, the grandson of her late friend and fellow actress, Elizabeth Taylor, to discuss the persistent barriers to inequality surrounding the AIDS epidemic.

Artists, activists, and global leaders of all descriptions traversed the Summit’s stage throughout the day. But one afternoon session that garnered the most applause from the event’s live audience in New York was a conversation moderated by actress Connie Britton with Deputy Head of The White Helmets (Syria Civil Defense) Mounir Mustafa, and Media Officer Khaled Khatid. The 22-year-old Khatid was one of the cinematographers for 2016 Academy Award-winning short documentary, The White Helmets.

To watch the entire conference from beginning to end, check out the summit’s livestream page. To join in the digital conversation from this year’s conference, check out #2030Now.

Types: Blog
Global Topics: Arts, Culture, and Humanities, Civil Rights, Data, Education, Environment, Health and Human Services, International and Foreign Affairs, IS Board, IS Member, Public Policy, Race, Equity, and Inclusion