Environment

On 17 of September, I attended the Social Good Summit 2017, which took place at 92 Street Y Club in New York. A diverse group of speakers and performers got together and vividly presented in nearly 40 panels what social good means to society. All of the panels were thought provoking and inspiring. Some put forward incredible performances for a diverse audience, which consisted of acting, singing, cooking and displaying innovative medical devices.

Social Good Summit 2017
Social Good Summit 2017

I particularly enjoyed Erika Ender’s panel called “A Conversation with Erika Ender.” Erika Ender, a famous singer and songwriter is from Panama. She performed several songs in an inspirational show. One of the strong messages of her truly moving songs was about young people growing up in modern society and needing more support and better opportunities to become productive members of society.

Madame Gandhi, a singer, activist from Los Angeles, as well as graduate from Harvard Business School, put on a video aimed at inspiring various segments of the society, especially young people, to work for social good, to which she dedicated her entire career. Madame Gandhi expressed the strong belief that social media is one of the most powerful tools to be used to motivate people to work towards achieving the U.N. sustainable development goals.

Benj Pasek, an American songwriter and composer pointed out that music can be a tremendously influential force in the society. He is a strong believer that music helps people of all ages, and the youth in particular is strongly influenced by music. Similarly, art can be very powerful in leading the young generation. Aaron Huey, National Geographic photographer stated that art is more than beauty and decoration. According to him, art can be a weapon and a shield, and it can be used as a compass for children, guiding them into the future.

The importance of the focus of the society on youth resonated throughout this incredibly moving and artistic gathering. Notably, according to the UN studies the youth group of age 15-24 was portrayed as key in terms of their potential to make a difference for the world and its future and help the world achieve the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

It is interesting to note that the Social Good Summit in New York was echoing concerns that were expressed at the Social Innovation and Global Ethics Forum organized by Horyou, the social network for social good, in Astana, Kazakhstan on 5-7 September 2017. At SIGEF 2017, Yonathan Parienti, CEO of Horyou pointed out: “we live in a world of exacerbated consumption at all levels that is seriously hindering the implementation of critical sustainable development goals. SIGEF 2017, is set to explore, define and share new ideas that advance social innovation and social good for a sustainable growth for all. It is clear that the involvement of the younger generation, that everywhere is acting for change, alongside stakeholders of all ages, is a positive indication that we are moving forward in the right direction of shaping better times to come.”

Many speakers at the Summit in New York echoed this positive message. No doubt, the youth can become truly productive members of the society if society invests in their education. Education for youth was one of the key themes in the Summit.

The statistics in relation to education worldwide demand urgent action. Statistics are one of the important indicators of progress highlighted in SDG 4, Education. According to statistics shared at Social Good Summit, half of the young people in the primary school age group regrettably are not in primary school, and nearly ¾ of youth in the secondary school age group are not in secondary school. In order to achieve the sustainable development goals by 2030, there is an acute need for urgent action. At the Summit, youth was portrayed as being key innovators to drive forward new products and designs. This age group is often receptive to and friendly with new technologies and trends. Hence, youth can influence United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 9, Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure.

Certainly, young people are significant in terms of influencing businesses. They look to companies for the latest trends, and companies, in turn, look to influence youth. Many speakers noted progress in achieving the sustainable development goals for businesses. The great majority of youth seem to care about the causes the business is supporting. Young people are also key drivers of innovation.

Youth may even be able to influence economic growth by becoming loyalty customers, long-term customers to the various brands. This will help shape the formation of businesses in terms of their demand patterns and various preferences in product selection. Customers who value the brand for the causes it stands for are likely to be both early adopters of new products, as well as loyalty customers, as they feel connection with the brand. As such, they will be a driving force behind the brands and thus contribute to both industry and economic growth, foreseen by SDG 9 and SDG 8, respectively.

Many speakers expressed strong views that to achieve the sustainable development goals youth and other sectors of society need proper housing, food, and affordable health care services. In regards to proper housing, SDG 11, it was pointed out that nearly 15 million children are currently on the move and lack permanent housing means. Being often on the move makes it difficult for them to complete school.

Poverty concerns figured highly on the agenda at the Summit. According to statistics shared at the meeting, while overall poverty levels have declined since 1990, a substantial part of the world still lives on less than 1 dollar per day. In this connection, many participants stressed substantial ongoing hunger in the world, while there is also a lot of food waste. This food could potentially be distributed among those who are in need in inexpensive and effective ways. One speaker expressed a particular view that billions of dollars can be made by alleviating hunger and providing other sustainability resources to people in acute poverty.

In regards to inadequate access to sustainable energy sources, it was stressed that twenty percent of people worldwide do not have access to electricity at all.

There is no affordable healthcare in many parts of the world. More than 400 million people still lack access to healthcare worldwide. This problem is substantial. Whoopi Goldberg eloquently stressed the particular problem of having people turned away from hospitals when they are ill. Some were in favor of universal healthcare coverage, as is the case in many countries, and argued that it would allow for more affordable healthcare.

Global warming was also stressed. Many urged to take proactive action on this important issue. While some highlighted that solutions have been constantly put off, others were alarmed that even one degree of warming is significant.

All agreed that it is important to give people a sense of worth through education, jobs, poverty reduction and access to various energy sources, pursuant to relevant Sustainable Development Goals of the United Nations. The Social Good Summit is an event that happens annually, and it is worthwhile attending it.

Written by Elena Tarrassenko

Horyou is the Social Network for Social Good, which connects, supports and promotes social initiatives, entrepreneurs, and citizens who help the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals to build a more harmonious and inclusive world. Horyou is also the host of SIGEF, the Social Innovation and Global Ethics Forum, taking place in Astana, Kazakhstan during the EXPO 2017, from 5-7 September. We invite you to Be the Change, Be Horyou!

Eurostat launched a report showing the progression of the European Union towards the 2020 social and economic targets.

The report highlights the main achievements of  EU 2020 targets
The report highlights the main achievements of EU 2020 targets

2020 is only three years from now and, surely, a lot has been already accomplished. Still there’s so much left to do in such short time. One major point raised by Eurostat is that he European Union lacks cohesion between its member States when it has to deliver better levels of employment and productivity while reducing the impact on the environment.

Europe 2020 targets cover five areas of concern: Employment, Research & Development, Climate Change & Energy, Education and Poverty Reduction. Each member state has its own national target within the common targets. By analyzing the data, Eurostat, the statistical office of the EU, produced a report called “Smarter, greener, more inclusive?”, in which it details the Unions accomplishments since 2008, as well as it outlines the programs major trends.

The report thus highlights the “substantial progress” made in the area of climate change and energy, through the reduction in greenhouse gas emissions and energy consumption, combined with an increase in the use of renewable sources of energy. Positive developments have been made also in education, through an increased tertiary education and a reduced number of early leavers from higher education.

The areas where progress was limited were employment and R&D expenditure, while poverty reduction has reached poor results since 2008.

When analyzing each EU Member State data, Eurostat shows there’s still a lack of cohesion among the 27 countries. When it comes to reducing greenhouse gases emissions, for example, States as Portugal and Denmark have surpassed their targets on energy consumption and efficiency when France and Italy are still far from honoring their commitments and are hardly likely to do so by 2020.

From the poverty reduction perspective, only a few countries, like Austria and Bulgaria, have shown a slight development, while Spain and Greece are struggling to reach the 2020 targets. Currently, 23% of the EU population faces the risk of poverty or social exclusion, while employment rates among females have risen since 2008, inducing a vulnerability of this gender group.

Access the full report here

All 2020 targets are directly or indirectly related to the UN Sustainable Development Targets and are part of the EU commitment to the social and economic inclusion of its population.

Horyou is the Social Network for Social Good, which connects, supports and promotes social initiatives, entrepreneurs, and citizens who help the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals to build a more harmonious and inclusive world. We invite you to Be the Change, Be Horyou!

Fundada em 1985, a Casa Pequeno Davi é uma organização incansável no compromisso com crianças e adolescentes em vulnerabilidade social e em situação de rua. Desde os anos 1990, o trabalho social realizado na capital da Paraíba, João Pessoa, vem se ampliando para atender ao entorno familiar de crianças e adolescentes, atuando também em escolas do bairro do Roger, onde funcionava o lixão metropolitano, e também no estado do Ceará. Hoje, a Casa Pequeno Davi é uma organização que atua nos espaços de formulação de políticas públicas (conselhos, fóruns e redes), conquistando parcerias ao longo do tempo e conquistando a credibilidade da comunidade e da sociedade em geral. Leia mais sobre esse membro ativo da nossa plataforma Horyou!

A Casa Pequeno Davi promove atividades de apoio a crianças e adolescentes na Paraíba e no Ceará
A Casa Pequeno Davi promove atividades de apoio a crianças e adolescentes na Paraíba e no Ceará

Quais são as principais inspirações para o trabalho da Casa Pequeno Davi?

A defesa dos direitos, o respeito à pessoa humana, a ética, a responsabilidade, a transparência, participação, a igualdade e a democracia plena.

Que tipo de impacto a organização deseja causar no mundo?

Uma sociedade justa e responsável, onde os direitos humanos, sobretudo de crianças e adolescentes, sejam respeitados e efetivados.

De que forma as redes sociais e a tecnologia influenciam no dia a dia da organização?

Maior visibilidade da organização por parte da sociedade em geral, possibilitando novas parcerias. Ainda com a possibilidade de inserção do público (crianças, adolescentes e familiares) na chamada inclusão digital por meio dos cursos, oficinas oferecidos pela instituição por meio das parcerias.

Quais foram as principais evoluções da atuação da organização em relação à comunicação e as novas tecnologias?

Visando ampliar sua visibilidade, a organização investiu na comunicação, utilizando todos os meios de comunicação possíveis (site, blog, redes sociais, campanhas e materiais impressos). Hoje, a Casa Pequeno Davi é uma organização de referência na área defesa dos direitos humanos, em especial de crianças e adolescentes no Estado da Paraíba.

A organização faz parcerias para promover atividades variadas com as crianças
A organização faz parcerias para promover atividades variadas com as crianças

Qual a importância de participar de uma rede social do bem social como a Horyou?

No mundo globalizado, a participação em uma rede social com a amplitude da Horyou, é de fundamental importância para ampliar a escala da visibilidade institucional. A conexão com outras organizações, o compartilhamento dos objetivos e das ações fortalece a metodologia do trabalho para o alcance da missão.

Vivemos em uma era de constante transformação. Quais são as mudanças positivas que você deseja para a sua comunidade e para as gerações futuras?

Acreditamos que, em primeiro lugar, precisamos de uma consciência ambiental globalizada porque as gerações futuras dependem do nosso comportamento atual. Não é mais possível conviver com o desrespeito em todos os níveis, seja entre as pessoas, seja com o ambiente em que vivemos.

Estamos contribuindo para a formação cidadã de crianças e adolescentes que são prioridade absoluta, de acordo com o Estatuto da Criança e do Adolescente. Esse público precisa ter seus direitos efetivados na prática para que possam ter melhoria na qualidade de vida e um amanhã diferente.

A Horyou é a rede social do bem social. Conectamos e apoiamos iniciativas sociais, empreendedores e cidadãos que promovem a implementação dos Objetivos de Desenvolvimento Sustentável da ONU, para que possamos construir um mundo mais harmonioso e inclusivo. Seja a mudança, seja Horyou!

What do alternative sources of energy, cooking workshops and a virtual reality device to make people feel like refugees have in common? Cultural innovation and the will to change positively the world we live in. Last month, the Center for Contemporary Culture in Barcelona hosted a round of conferences and a prize for social innovation, gathering specialists in such topics as sustainable cultural management and climate change in a two-day row of interesting debates about the challenges of our times.

Cultural Innovation International Prize
Cultural Innovation International Prize

The pannels started with Laura Pando, an experienced cultural manager who strives to help the cultural sector to adopt more sustainable practices. In the last 10 years, Laura helped museums, music festivals and governments to opt for clean energy solutions, calculate their carbon footprint and develop leadership in the industry. «In a recent poll, we discovered that 50% of people don’t remember ever having a conversation about climate change. Art and culture have a great responsibility on promoting this debate. If we don’t talk about it, it won’t exist in people’s minds», she said.

The following conference was presented by Laura Faye Tenembaum, science senior editor for NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab. In a passionate talk, she engaged the audience on the idea that climate change is a «fascinating challenge». «You can’t see countries’ political divisions or boundaries from the space. We’re all facing the climate change and have to work together», she said. Laura warned that the effects of carbon pollution might be invisible on earth but are becoming more visible from space. Climate change, she says, is not a topic of the future. It’s already been happening for decades now and affecting our daily lives. «We need to transform how we live. Society is resistent to change, and has a negative feeling about it. I dare you to face the challenges as exciting”, she concluded.

Laura Faye Tenembaum
Laura Faye Tenembaum

Laura Tenembaum was also a member of the jury for the Cultural Innovation International Prize. In its second edition, the competition gathered 228 projects from 59 countries, mainly developed by young researchers, artists and entrepreneurs. The 10 finalists presented their projects in Barcelona and the winner was The Newton Machine, a battery prototype that stores renewable energy using gravity. The prize also gave an audience award to Neighbourhood Upcycling, a locally based project for plastic recycling that can be replicated to promote circular economy worldwide.

The jury gave a special mention for the project Ode for the Future, which used art, installation, and performances to show the effects of climate change in six geographic spots from Catalonia, Spain. All the projects, though, had the opportunity to be presented to a broader audience and to create an impact – the finalists received feedback from the jury, as well as ideas to put into practice.

The projects were exposed at the Centre of Contemporary Culture in Barcelona
The projects were exposed at the Centre of Contemporary Culture in Barcelona

Click here to read more about the 10 finalists and the Cultural Innovation International Prize. (in Spanish)

Horyou is the Social Network for Social Good, which connects, supports and promotes social initiatives, entrepreneurs, and citizens who help the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals to build a more harmonious and inclusive world. We invite you to Be the Change, Be Horyou!

We never think about eating as a political act, even though our choices are directly linked to social and environmental issues. Fair production and trade, water consumption of each product we buy at the market and carbon footprint of food transportation are only a few of the concerns we should take into consideration before giving the first bite in an apparently innocent snack. The organization Slow Food International does a great work raising awareness into the civil society and promoting fair, healthy, harmonic initiatives that both respect the environment and communities. Here are highlights of their interview!

Wheat farmer in Australia
Wheat farmer in Australia

1. What is Slow Food International’s purpose?

Slow Food is committed to restoring the value of food and to grant the due respect to those who produce it in harmony with the environment and ecosystems, thanks to their traditional knowledge. Since 1996 Slow Food has started to work directly with small-scale producers in order to help them safeguard agro biodiversity and traditional knowledge through projects like the Ark of Taste, that collects small-scale quality productions that belong to the cultures, history and traditions of the entire planet and today have almost 4,500 products on board. Or Presidia, that sustain quality production at risk of extinction, protect unique regions and ecosystems, recover traditional processing methods, safeguard native breeds and local plant varieties. One of the projects Slow Food is most proud of is “10.000 Gardens in Africa”, launched in 2010. The Gardens are created by local communities who plant traditional vegetables, fruits, culinary and medicinal herbs using sustainable techniques, involving young people and drawing on the knowledge of the elderly. The aim is to promote biodiversity, value African gastronomic cultures and raise awareness about big issues like GMOs, land grabbing and sustainable fishing. Around a third of the gardens are in schools, serving as open-air classrooms with an important educational function and often supplying healthy, fresh vegetables for school meals. This, in turn, is training a network of leaders aware of the value of their land and their culture. The other gardens are run by communities, and the produce is used primarily to improve the nutritional value of the community members’ everyday diet, while any surplus is sold to generate supplementary income.

In 2004, Slow Food launched the Terra Madre network, which brings together food producers, fishers, breeders, chefs, academics, young people, NGOs and representatives of local communities from 160 countries. In a world dominated by industrial production, Terra Madre, which means Mother Earth, actively supports the small-scale farmers, breeders, fishers and food artisans around the world whose approach to food production protects the environment and communities.

2. What is your mission and vision of the world?

Slow Food was founded to counter the rise of fast food and fast life, the disappearance of local food traditions and to encourage people to be aware about the food they eat, where it comes from, how it tastes and how our food choices affect the rest of the world. Slow Food envisions a world in which all people can access and enjoy food that is good, clean and fair. Good, because it is healthy in addition to tasting good; clean because it is produced with low environmental impact and with animal welfare in mind; and fair because it respects the work of those who produce, process and distribute it. For this reason Slow Food works to defend biodiversity and to promote a sustainable and environmentally friendly food production and consumption system; to spread sensory education and responsible consumption; and to connect producers of quality foods with co-producers (conscious consumers) through events and initiatives.

Farmer's market
Farmer’s market

3. The Slow Food movement has gained more momentum in the last years. What would you consider as the main reasons behind the increased global awareness of the way we consume food?

We think that today, due to the increasing level of illnesses related to our daily food, people are starting to realize that their actions and daily choices have a repercussion on their health. People are starting to be more accurate in their food choices, on where they buy their food, on what’s inside what they eat. Also the concerns about the environmental challenges, like climate change, has increased the attention consumers are paying to how their choices can mitigate them. The industrial food system of production and consumption is in fact the first cause of pollution, CO2 production, loss of biodiversity. Today, Slow Food involves over a million activists, chefs, experts, youth, farmers, fishers and academics in over 160 countries. Among them, a network of around 100,000 Slow Food members are linked to 1,500 local chapters worldwide.

4. Are you committed to the Sustainable Development Goals or do you address some of the SDGs with your projects?

Some of the Sustainable Development Goals share our philosophy and our aim. Our philology, good, clean and fair tackles several SDGs, naming good health and wellbeing, responsible production and consumption, decent work and economic growth. We are working to address the huge problem of food waste, by organizing events like Disco Soup through our Young network, where people cook only food that would have been thrown away. That means that we are trying to help reach the zero hunger goal and that we vision sustainable cities and communities that would weigh as less as possible on the environment. Industrial animal production (linked to high levels of meat consumption) is responsible for 14% of greenhouse gas emissions, if we take into account the whole chain from food production to final consumption. Similarly, aquaculture consumes immense quantities of fishmeal, pollutes the water and, in many parts of the world, is responsible for the destruction of wide swathes of mangrove forest. On 2015 Slow Food launched an appeal called “Let’s not eat up our planet! Fight Climate Change” which aimed to sensitize the public on how much the agriculture weights on the climate change issue. Also for the “life on land and below water”, we are really sensitive about animal wellbeing, and we organize every two year an event called Slow Fish completely dedicated to sustainable fisheries and marine ecosystems.

Slow Food International has built a network with chefs worldwide
Slow Food International has built a network with chefs worldwide

5. Do you think food industries are getting more committed to producing food with less environmental, health and social impact? What are your main challenges to get them on board?

We have recently seen an increase of attention regarding these aspects. If industries are interested in finding more sustainable solutions for the environment and the health (in a serious way and not for marketing reasons) we are ready to facilitate the process and give advice.

6. Horyou is the social network for social good. What’s the importance of internet and social media to spread the message of movements like Slow Food and other positive initiatives?

We think that internet is a fundamental tool that can be used to share ideas, visions and experiences all over the world. For example people, especially youngsters and producers, could share their experiences to see how a same problem is tackled in different areas of the globe. Conversely, we don’t think it’s a useful tool if it takes place of human interactions and communications.

Horyou is the Social Network for Social Good, which connects, supports and promotes social initiatives, entrepreneurs, and citizens who help the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals to build a more harmonious and inclusive world. We invite you to Be the Change, Be Horyou!

The city of Katowice, in Poland, was chosen by the UNFCCC as a venue for the 2018 UN Climate Change Conference, the “COP 24”.

Katowice, Poland
Katowice, Poland

It will be the third time the country hosts a UN Climate Change conference – the two previous ones were held in 2008 (COP 14 in Poznań) and in 2013 (COP 19 in Warsaw).

Patricia Espinosa, the Executive Secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), said: “I would to like to thank the Government of Poland for agreeing to host COP 24 as part of the Eastern European Group and look forward to working with Minister Jan Szysko and his team to make the conference a success on all fronts.”

“2018 will be another important year for international climate diplomacy as nations move forward to implement the Paris Climate Change Agreement – indeed 2018 is when governments are expected to reach some key milestones,” she said.

“These range from finalizing the guidelines for fully operationalizing the agreement to taking stock of how countries are doing collectively in terms of being on track to realize Paris’s aims and ambitions over the coming years and decades,” added Ms. Espinosa.

Ms. Espinosa was shown a research centre in Toruń where the Government of Poland is scientifically monitoring how forests absorb carbon. Forest protection is a key part of efforts to address climate change. Ms. Espinosa said she looked forward to joining with the people of Poland to realize a successful conference that pushes forward the implementation of the Paris Agreement.

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