Social Good Summit Imagines the World In 2030

Social Good Summit

New York City is well known as the financial capital of the world, but this past week it became the epicenter of the social good movement.

The biggest climate march in history took place in the Big Apple on Sunday, the same day that the fifth annual Social Good Summit (SGS) kicked off. This two-day conference featured global leaders, policy makers, business executives, non-profits and others, who met to discuss the impact of technology on social good initiatives.

(Social Good Summit is) a grass-roots version of the annual United Nations General Assembly.

New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof

The theme this year was #2030NOW, which posed the question, “What type of world do I want to live in by the year 2030?”

Some of the topics addressed during the event at the 92nd Street Y included the environment, sustainability, public health, human rights, poverty and education. There was no shortage of dignitaries in attendance, such as former first lady Laura Bush, recording artist Alicia Keys, Good Morning America anchor Robin Roberts and Melinda Gates, co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

Here are some of our takeaways from SGS regarding the environment:

  • Curious about what cities are doing to combat climate change? Check out C40 Cities, a network of the world’s biggest cities that are taking action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Seth Schultz, Director of Research at C40, discussed the C40 Climate Risk Assessment Framework, which allows cities to evaluate local climate risks and take decisive actions to manage them.
  • Is tapping into millennials the key to reducing carbon emissions? According to Niall Dunne, Chief Sustainability Officer at BT, it makes sense to reach out to this 1.8-billion person demographic. Per Dunne’s talk, 84 percent of millennials would rather make a difference than achieve recognition in their work.
  • Actor Edward Norton and scientist M Sanjayan have joined forces to promote their project Nature Is Speaking, a campaign launching Oct. 6 that emphasizes an important point: Nature doesn’t need people, but people desperately need nature. A series of films have been made to convey to the public what nature would say if it could talk. Many celebrities have signed on to give voice to these “characters.” For instance, Norton provided the voiceover for soil, while actor Harrison Ford did the voiceover for the ocean. The campaign depends on social engagement, Sanjayan said, since there’s no money for large ad campaigns. Follow #NatureIsSpeaking on Twitter for info.
  • Climate justice is a term that was widely used during SGS, but what does it mean? Per Kumi Naidoo, the International Executive Director at Greenpeace, the fight for climate justice can be summed up this way: Many people who have suffered from the impact of climate change are not the ones primarily responsible for the carbon emissions that contribute to it.
  • Yael Maguire, Engineering Director at Facebook Connectivity Lab, says 4 billion people in the world are without Internet access. He shared Facebook’s plans to alleviate this problem. One solution is to use high-altitude, solar-powered drones that are the size of Boeing 747s but “much lighter,” which can remain in the air for days at a time.

Here are a few more topics that caught our attention:

  • Visit to view the free film “Beyond Right Or Wrong,” which conveys a powerful message of forgiveness and conflict resolution.
  • According to author Sheryl WuDunn, you can lower your risk of mortality by 44 percent if you volunteer for two or three organizations per week. By comparison, exercising four times per week lowers your mortality rate by about 40 percent.
  • Supermodel Lily Cole launched a website called, which is a non-monetary sharing platform. Think of it as a place to pay it forward. It’s similar, in some ways, to Yerdle, a site where you can give and receive free stuff. While Yerdle is backed by former Sierra Club president Adam Werbach, has the support of Nobel Peace Prize winner Muhammad Yunus.
  • Austin local and Dell founder and CEO Michael Dell spoke at SGS in his new role as the United Nations’ first global advocate for entrepreneurship.
  • There’s a $15 million Global Learning XPRIZE up for grabs if you create an open-sourced software that promotes literacy.