When the Social Good Summit first began in New York in 2010, the aim was to engage the online community in the development conversations happening during UN General Assembly week, which historically have largely occurred behind closed doors.
This week, the Social Good Summit extended beyond New York to include new flagship events in Beijing and Nairobi. These three hub events, in addition to smaller meet-ups in more than one hundred countries, aimed to create
a global conversation bringing technology and innovative thinking to bear on development challenges. The larger ambition of the Summit partners is to sustain this conversation far beyond this week for months and hopefully years to come.
It was important to have China at the heart of the conversation, despite the obvious challenges presented by time zone differences and translation complexity. The size and scale of social media usage in China is enormous —Tencent’s WeChat platform alone
boasts over 200 million users — and the commitment of Chinese social media companies to using social media for social good is unprecedented.
The newly formed Chinese
Social Media for Social Good Alliance came together on multiple occasions this year, putting competition aside to launch innovative online campaigns tackling major public health challenges. Great examples include a World TB Day campaign in March, in which
the Alliance partnered with the Chinese Ministry of Health to raise awareness and encourage preventative action
against the spread of TB.
On World No Tobacco Day in May, the Alliance again came together to raise awareness on the dangers of passive smoking through a ‘Say No to Forced Smoking’ campaign. As a result of this effort, national awareness of the dangers of passive smoking rose from
5% to 19% — a number that continues to grow today.
At the Beijing event this week, I gave a talk touching on how we at the foundation are thinking about a big challenge: how to deepen peoples' emotional ties and sustain their engagement with the work happening on the ground in the developing world.
Next month, along with our partner Women Deliver, we are excited to launch
Catapult, a crowd funding platform for projects helping to advance the lives of women and girls around the world.
Through Catapult, users can adopt specific projects for causes they are passionate about. They can build a team, fundraise, and spread the word—with 100% of all funds raised going directly to women and girls. And here’s
they key: supporters hear back from the project. They can follow the progress and witness the impact of their efforts firsthand.
Investing in women is at the heart of the solution to so many of the challenges we work on, and we hope that Catapult will give people the opportunity to build deep personal connections with the women and girls the projects support.
Many of the issues discussed this week at Social Good Summit will take years and in some cases even decades to solve. These issues are large, complex, and impact millions of people.
Thanks to inspirational speakers like Chinese gold medal-winning gymnast Zhe Feng, who spoke passionately about the need to eradicate polio from the planet — more about him in my next post — this week helped to catalyze a truly global conversation.
The next few months will determine whether we have created a foundation for a conversation that will sustain for years to come.