Our Key Takeaways from the 2018 Social Good Summit

By Sara Aghajanian and Alexa Greenberg

September 27, 2018

September 27, 2018 – UN General Assembly (UNGA) week is always an exciting time in New York City with heads of state, philanthropists and business leaders from all over the world coming together to discuss a variety of international issues including peace, security and health. There are also many opportunities for individuals to feel inspired and engaged in these conversations. The Social Good Summit, a UN Foundation and Mashable event held annually during UNGA week, brings together key social good influencers to share their experiences and create dialogue around a common theme: #2030NOW. A few KYNE team members were able to attend this year’s Summit, and we wanted to share our key takeaways:

Companies have a role in creating positive change. Businesses have the potential to make a difference in the world and consumers have a role to play to hold them accountable. For example, The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), Australian and New Zealand production company, FINCH, and founding partner Mars, are asking companies using animals in their advertisements to donate 0.5% of the money they spend on each ad to a new initiative called the Lion’s Share Fund. The fund will be used to support programs that benefit animal welfare. While this percentage may seem small, the number of companies that could participate is so great that millions of dollars could be raised to protect biodiversity and assist conservation efforts. Consumers can encourage their favorite companies using animals in their ad campaigns to join the initiative. “Expect more of businesses… ask more of businesses,” said Andy Pharoah, Vice President, Corporate Affairs, Strategic Initiatives & Sustainability at Mars.

There is a worldwide need for gender equality in access to technology. All over the world, from South Asia to Africa to Latin America, technology and mobile phone access is expanding. However, there is a major gender gap. Globally, boys are 1.5X times more likely to have a mobile phone than girls. There is also a high level of stigma surrounding cell phone use among girls. As 16-year-old filmmaker and girls education advocate, Zuriel Oduwde explained that this unequal access to technology puts girls at a disadvantage by preventing them from obtaining the same opportunities as boys. “We need to show girls why technology is there for them,” said Oduwde. Together, we must break down these stigmas and give girls across the world equal access to these tools.

Youth are leading the way to social change. Young people are playing a bigger role in activism and driving social change. Ten-year-old Mari Copeny, “Little Miss Flint”, is raising awareness about contaminated water in Flint, MI. Sonita Alizadeh, a 21-year-old refugee from Afghanistan, is using her voice to rap about ending child marriage. These are only two individuals, but their actions have had profound effects in getting other young people involved in driving change. As United Nations Youth Envoy, Jayathma Wickramanayake said, “young people are not the leaders of tomorrow – they are the leaders of today.”

We are at a breakthrough moment for mental health. Depression is now the leading cause of disability worldwide and is a major contributor to the overall global burden of disease. For a long time, mental health has not been seen as an important global issue. New York City First Lady, Chirlane McCray spoke about mental health first aid and the training programs available to all New Yorkers through Thrive NYC—a comprehensive mental health plan for NYC. Elisha London, CEO of United for Global Mental Healthannounced the launch of her organization which is committed to ensuring everyone, everywhere has someone to turn to, who is trained to support them with their mental health. Through these and other initiatives, mental health is finally being recognized as just as important as physical health.

During this week each year, there are so many important discussions taking place and topics raised that deserve our attention, and at KYNE we look forward to continuing to work with the global community to advance important health issues and identify where we can play a role in pushing the global agenda forward. If you attended the Social Good Summit or another UNGA event, what stuck out to you as an important point or topic to advance? Let’s start a dialogue.