11 of our favorite talks from the 2017 Social Good Summit

Kicking off the United Nations General Assembly this week, the 2017 Social Good Summit combines some of the world’s greatest advocates, thought leaders, and agents for social change in a series of back-to-back panels and presentations.

For us at Whole Whale, it’s our idea of a #SundayFunday with the intersection of technology and new media being used as a divining rod for measuring social and human progress as we define what we want the world to look like in 2030. Naturally we were at the 92nd Street Y bright and early this past Sunday (September 17, 2017) for the annual meeting, copresented by Mashable, the United Nations Foundation, and the United Nations Development Programme.

And because we’re talking about technology and making change across the globe, of course the event was livestreamed and available for on-demand viewing. Read on for our picks for 11 presentations worth watching (or rewatching) from the 2017 Social Good Summit. Presented in chronological order.

1. The Gathering Place (Amanda Gorman)

At Whole Whale, we have a soft spot for poetry, especially when it’s used for social change. 19-year-old Amanda Gorman, the Inaugural National Youth Poet Laureate, served up just that kind of poetic justice to open Sunday’s summit. It was a great way of reminding us exactly why we all got out of bed on Sunday morning and gathered to discuss the whats, whens, wheres, and hows of social good.


Amanda Gorman performs “The Gathering Place”

 

2. UNICEF: On the Ground (Caryl M. Stern)

Mashable Social Good editor Matt Petrozino interviewed UNICEF USA President & CEO Caryl M. Stern for this look at field work for large organizations. Hearing Stern talk about her own experience as the daughter of Holocaust refugees was moving, but even moreso was the guest appearance of two young refugees living in a camp in Uganda. Speaking via Skype, Anne and Nelson reinforced the need for education as a basic human right. You couldn’t help but feel hopeful for the future when Nelson said his dream was to become a Member of Parliament while Anne said she wanted to become a pediatrician.

 


UNICEF: On the Ground with Caryl M. Stern

 

3. Behind the Curtain of a Movement: How the AIDS Epidemic Put a Spotlight on Barriers that Hinder Equality (Whoopi Goldberg)

Let’s first say that, if your job is to be Whoopi Goldberg’s ASL interpreter, you have an awesome job — especially when your job is to recap how Whoopi became involved with the Elizabeth Taylor AIDS Foundation. Taylor’s grandson and ETAF Trustee, Quinn Tivey, interviewed Whoopi on her work in the AIDS activism arena and how the face of the disease has changed since Whoopi saw the original outbreak in the San Francisco Bay Area. Much has changed since then in terms of mass communication, and digital media can serve as an effective tool for building on the power we have to help amplify other voices. “Don’t accept the ‘okeydoke,’” she says of activism. “The playing field is equal.”

 


Whoopi Goldberg and Quinn Tivey discuss “Behind the Curtain of a Movement”

 

4. Powering Opportunities with Energy (Zia Khan)

Vice President of Initiatives and Strategy at The Rockefeller Foundation Zia Khan makes the powerful point that altruism isn’t about getting a “thank you” from the grateful beneficiary of your donation. Rather, it’s about giving your recipients the tools they need and then getting out of their way. Through this presentation, Khan illustrates the benefit of shifting focus from providing light to providing power, the power of your beneficiaries acting like customers versus charity recipients, and even shows how VR can allow us to see real-world change as it takes place.

 

Watch Powering Opportunities with Energy on Mashable.com (segment begins at 1:49:25).

 

5. Beyond Clicktivism (Jeff Martin and Bob Weir)

The Grateful Dead’s Bob Weir joined Founder & CEO of Tribal Planet Jeff Martin to discuss change that goes beyond “hashtag activism.” As part of this, Martin previews a new initiative launching on Giving Tuesday 2017 that will serve as a sort of “Fitbit for social buying patterns” and allow for a new opportunity of accountability in corporate America. We’re on-board.

 

Watch Beyond Clicktivism on Mashable.com (segment begins at 3:32:02).

6. Counting the Beans: What It Takes to Feed a Hungry World (David Beasley and Arthur Potts Dawson)

File this one under classic “Show, don’t tell.” Rather than discuss how income disparity affects the world hunger crisis, World Food Programme Executive Director David Beasley enlisted the help of chef Arthur Potts Dawson. The advocate for sustainable restaurants expertly diced vegetables for a bean soup while speaking with Beasley and Al Jazeera English journalist Femi Oke. At the end, Summit attendees were invited to try the soup, which cost roughly $1 USD per bowl to make. To make the same bowl using the same universal and humble ingredients in South Sudan would cost $320. Even in replay you can hear the audience’s audible gasp.

 

Watch Counting the Beans: What it Takes to Feed a Hungry World on Mashable.com (segment begins at 3:43:38).

 

7. Modernizing Humanitarian Aid in the 21st Century (Carolyn Miles and David Miliband)

What happens when you get the President & CEO of Save the Children and the President & CEO of International Rescue Committee on the same couch in a discussion led by Ann Simmons of the Los Angeles Times? Awesome things happen. These two powerhouses of saving the world talk about reframing the story when interest in humanitarian projects wanes and how to demonstrate that all help makes a difference — all of this drives home the point that stories only matter if they’re heard.

 


Modernizing Humanitarian Aid with Carolyn Miles and David Miliband

8. You Will Be Found: How Broadway’s Dear Evan Hansen Connects Global Youths (Benj Pasek)

Social media: Echo chamber or force for good? If you’re Benj Pasek, cocreator of the Tony Award-winning Dear Evan Hansen, you’re seeing proof that it can be the latter. Speaking with Mashable’s COO/CFO Michael Kriak, the Oscar-winning composer talks about how his smash-hit show with themes of teen suicide and social anxiety has acted as the catalyst for a digital support community of teens struggling with mental illness. Since the Summit took place a few days after Queen B visited the show, Kriak also asked the important question, “What was it like making Beyoncé cry?”

 

Watch You Will Be Found: How Broadway’s Dear Evan Hansen Connects Global Youths on Mashable.com (segment begins at 4:47:41).

9. Art as Compass (Aaron Huey)

National Geographic photographer Aaron Huey is the Executive Director of Amplifier, the nonprofit creative foundation behind this year’s “We the People” poster campaign. In a 7-minute presentation, he reviews the success of incorporating art into social justice from both the measure of social sentiment (check out the photo of a “We the People” poster on the top of Mt. Everest) and data. “We the People” poster downloads were even tracked in North Korea.

 

Watch Art as Compass on Mashable.com (segment begins at 5:24:43).

10. Shattering the Silence: Gender-Based Violence Solutions (ElsaMarie D’Silva and Ilwad Elman)

Daniela Ligiero, CEO of Together for Girls (which leverages data to end violence against girls and women), moderated this panel with social entrepreneur ElsaMarie D’Silva and Somali-Canadian activist Ilwad Elman. Seeing this just a few hours before The Handmaid’s Tale won the Emmy gave it an extra layer of meaning. No words — just watch.

 


Shattering the Silence: Gender-Based Violence Solutions

 

11. The White Helmets: Syria Civil Defense (Khaled Khatib, Mounir Mustafa)

White Helmets won the 2017 Academy Award for Best Documentary Short for the story it tells of the Syrian Civil Defence organization. Actress and UN Goodwill Ambassador Connie Britton brings Media Officer Khaled Khatib and Deputy Head Mounir Mustafa to the stage to discuss the work that drives the story and messaging forward. (On a personal note, this Whaler’s grandmother was a Syrian refugee; as such she may have fangirled more than a little bit when they came out onstage.) Beyond any technology, beyond innovation, beyond data, at the heart of any real-world change is people. Pure and simple.

 


The White Helmets at the 2017 Social Good Summit

Were you at #2030Now? Share your favorite moments with us at @WholeWhale.