SocialInnovation

Do you know that, in 2010, Syria was a peaceful and wealthy country, the land of several UNESCO World Heritage Sites, with a steadily growing tourism industry? Damascus, the capital, and Aleppo, were beautiful and lively places, with a strong traditon od trade and flourishing businesses. That was only seven years ago; today, whenever Syria is mentioned, it is war and refugees that first come to mind.

Aleppo residents internally displaced have begun to return.  Photos UNHCR
Aleppo residents internally displaced have begun to return. Photos UNHCR

Last month, the UNHCR launched a multimedia platform, developed in partnership with Google, that uses technology, data visualization, videos, maps and photos to reach to a global audience about the real situation in Syria. Using the latest trends in content marketing, the Searching for Syria website is more than a journalistic project – it’s an educational tool that answers the most asked questions put through to Google worldwide.

. What was Syria like before the war?

. What is happening in Syria?

. Who is a refugee?

. Where are Syrian refugees going?

. How can I help Syrian refugees?

A family walks across the desert terrain towards the Al Hol camp for refugees and displaced persons. Photos UNHCR
A family walks across the desert terrain towards the Al Hol camp for refugees and displaced persons. Photos UNHCR

“Searching for Syria aims to dispel myths and misconceptions about Syria and refugees and provide an entirely fresh look at the biggest humanitarian tragedy of today,” said UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi. “This is a fantastic project with Google that allows us to pinpoint and answer the five key questions about Syrian refugees and displaced that audiences most want to know and help us rally much needed support and funding for our humanitarian effort.”

“We’re proud to work with the UNHCR to develop Searching for Syria to help raise awareness and inform the world on the human cost of the ongoing conflict and the refugee crisis,” said Jacquelline Fuller, Vice President of Google.org. “The scale of the Syrian refugee crisis is difficult for most of us to fathom, but the questions on Searching for Syria are a reflection of many a people’s desire to understand. Among the top searches in Germany, France, and the UK last year was: What is happening in Syria?”

Jankidar, a 31 years old Syrian student who fled to Lebanon. Photo UNHCR
Jankidar, a 31 years old Syrian student who fled to Lebanon. Photo UNHCR

Through the platform, the audience learns interesting facts like the actual number of Syrian refugees and where they are fleeing to – mostly neighbouring countries like Iraq and Lebanon. The vast majority doesn’t go to Western Countries. The content is presented through short editorial passages, refugee profiles, photographs and videos. Users can also share content via social networks, donate or sign up to UNHCR’s #WithRefugees global petition asking the world leaders to ensure education for refugee children, adequate shelter and livelihoods for refugee families.

The “Searching for Syria” website is available in English, French, German and Spanish with an Arabic version soon to follow.

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!

Desde que iniciou suas atividades atendendo pessoas em situação de rua e com dependência de álcool e drogas na Cracolândia, em São Paulo, a SER Sustentável continua perseguindo a sua missão – a de usar a sustentabilidade para promover a integração de cidadãos em vulnerabilidade social. Com cinco anos de história, a organização é um membro ativo da plataforma Horyou! Nessa entrevista, a presidente Silvana Grandi conta sobre as principais atividades da SER Sustentável e a sua visão de futuro.

A SER Sustentável participou do SIGEF 2014
A SER Sustentável participou do SIGEF 2014

Qual a história da SER Sustentável?

A SER Sustentável iniciou suas ações atendendo pessoas em situação de rua e dependentes de álcool e outras drogas na cracolândia de São Paulo, há 05 anos. Prestamos até hoje serviços de conscientização ambiental, capacitação técnica e fiscalização de Comunidades Terapêuticas, locais de acolhimento em que são internadas as pessoas com dependência química.

Atualmente, trabalhamos em parceria com uma ONG na periferia da zona sul de São Paulo com um projeto de capacitação e construção de moradias sustentáveis de baixo custo para a Comunidade da Matinha, que se encontra em situação de extremo risco social.

Qual é o escopo de trabalho da organização?

O trabalho da SER Sustentável consiste em conscientizar, fiscalizar, humanizar e promover ações multidisciplinares em comunidades periféricas de São Paulo e realizar trabalhos de prevenção para pessoas com a dependência do álcool e outras drogas. Atualmente faltam espaços que promovam a efetiva reinserção social destas pessoas principalmente as que vivem em situação de extremo risco dentro das comunidades vulneráveis. Queremos também reinseri-los na sociedade com geração de trabalho e renda, utilizando oficinas e projetos sustentáveis de capacitação, geração de trabalho e renda.

A SER Sustentável por meio de sua equipe, presta assessoria profissional baseada em ampla capacitação e preparo de Organizações Sociais, Assim, elas podem adotar procedimentos de atendimento para pessoas em vulnerabilidade social e uma acolhida humanizada, minimizando possíveis sequelas que sua extrema vulnerabilidade proporciona.

Entendemos que a Gestão Sustentável inicia-se a partir da valorização do ser humano e em todos os seus ambientes onde está inserido. Diante desse cenário, a SER Sustentável tem como objetivo criar, promover e atuar como parceira junto às comunidades vulneráveis, ONGs, associações de bairro e de classe e de pessoas em extremo risco social no sentido de orientar, propor ações de contenção e de readequação para essas situações já recorrentes por meio de projetos, assessoria e orientações direcionadas.

Equipe SER Sustentável
Equipe SER Sustentável

Que tipo de impacto a organização deseja causar para o mundo?

Ser referência global em projetos socioambientais para inspirar e multiplicar projetos e ações de cidadania e meio ambiente em comunidades que vivem abaixo da linha da pobreza e em situação de extremo risx«co social.

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

As redes sociais e a tecnologias são ferramentas cruciais que complementam os projetos e ações da SER Sustentável. Um exemplo foi a Horyou, esta importante plataforma que através de nossas redes sociais conheceu nossos projetos e até hoje são parceiros na divulgação de nossas ações.

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

A Horyou, além de ser uma plataforma rica em informações e em organizações sérias, também influencia o mundo a buscar continuamente novos olhares, projetos inovadores e contatos com pessoas experientes, fazendo com que cada membro agregue valor em seu projeto. Nos deu a oportunidade de conhecer novas culturas e nos impulsiona o tempo todo a não desistir. São importantes motivadores e mobilizadores de ações socioambientais.

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

Desejamos impactar e transformar a vida de cidadãos que vivem abaixo da linha da pobreza unindo todos os atores sociais em prol de uma sociedade mais justa. Através dos projetos e ações realizados, queremos deixar um legado para que as próximas gerações continuem nosso trabalho e também usufruam de um mundo menos desigual e com mais respeito, amor e cuidado ao meio ambiente do qual fazemos parte.

A responsabilidade social empresarial é essencial para a evolução dos Objetivos de Desenvolvimento Sustentável da ONU. Como parte do compromisso de retratar iniciativas bem-sucedidas que promovem a inclusão social e a preservação do meio ambiente, entrevistamos Henrique Hélcio, Coordenador do Grupo de Trabalho Coprodutos da Usiminas, um dos maiores complexos siderúrgicos das Américas. Nessa conversa com o Horyou blog, Henrique fala do projeto Caminhos do Vale, que viabiliza a pavimentação de estradas rurais no Vale do Aço, em Minas Gerais, a partir de rejeitos do processo industrial. A iniciativa já aplicou mais de 1 milhão de toneladas utilizadas em cerca de 600 quilômetros de estradas rurais, na restauração de 50 quilômetros de vias urbanas e na recuperação de 35 pontes, encostas e áreas degradadas.

Estrada pavimentada pelo programa Caminhos do Vale, da Usiminas
Estrada pavimentada pelo programa Caminhos do Vale, da Usiminas

Qual o envolvimento da Usiminas com os objetivos de desenvolvimento sustentável? A qual deles o projeto Caminhos do Vale é direcionado?

O Caminhos do Vale está inserido no Programa de Sustentabilidade Usina Circular da Usiminas, que, como o próprio nome sugere, tem como base o conceito de Economia Circular e se apoia nos três pilares da sustentabilidade. Ao todo, o Usina Circular conta com quatro vertentes que têm como objetivo reduzir a emissão de CO2, ampliar a eficiência, evitar o desperdício e conservar ou aumentar a vida útil das matérias-primas, bem como inovar para garantir a sua durabilidade.

No caso específico do Caminhos do Vale, que conta com a coparticipação das prefeituras, a Usiminas destina adequadamente o material originado de seu processo industrial; incentiva a implementação de projetos socioambientais, a exemplo da recuperação de 684 nascentes e da proteção da fauna e da flora, como contrapartida à doação do agregado siderúrgico; e promove a melhoria do acesso viário das comunidades, especialmente as rurais, o que impacta diretamente a economia, a educação, a segurança e a qualidade de vida dos moradores.

Pavimentação de Santana do Paraíso
Pavimentação de Santana do Paraíso

Além do Caminhos do Vale, há outros projetos de sustentabilidade social e ambiental? Pode citar alguns?

Sim, a Usiminas conta com diversos projetos e programas voltados para essa temática. Especificamente em relação ao Usina Circular, podemos destacar o projeto Junto e Misturado – Baia de Mistura de Resíduos. A partir da revisão de práticas operacionais, adequação e adaptação de equipamentos já existentes, o projeto tornou possível a captação e reciclagem da lama fina originada na produção na Usina de Ipatinga. Antes depositada em aterro industrial, a lama reciclada passou a ser utilizada em substituição ao uso de minério e antracito no processo produtivo da siderúrgica.

A reciclagem da lama trouxe resultado nos três pilares da sustentabilidade. No ambiental, houve a redução da disposição do material em aterro industrial, assim como a preservação de recursos naturais como minério e antracito, devido à menor demanda. O projeto também fez a diferença para a comunidade, com redução de 60% ao mês no número de viagens de caminhões em vias públicas (redução de 550 viagens/mês) durante transportes de material para o aterro industrial. A produção também se tornou eficiente com economia anual de R$ 3,4 milhões em aquisição de matérias-primas.

Equipe da Caminhos do Vale
Equipe da Caminhos do Vale

Na sua opinião, qual o papel das empresas em transformar positivamente o mundo em que vivemos? Acredita que o setor privado está se envolvendo mais com questões sociais e ambientais?

Acredito que já houve avanços nesse sentido, mas ainda estamos longe do ideal. Especialmente no setor industrial, vivemos mais de dois séculos dentro do modelo linear de produção, que é o extrair, fabricar e descartar, sem uma preocupação sobre o que estamos deixando de herança para as gerações futuras. Mudar paradigmas e adotar ações realmente efetivas no caminho do modelo circular, especialmente na maneira como nos relacionamos com matérias-primas e resíduos, são movimentos que ainda podem encontrar resistência dentro das empresas. Ainda assim, é inegável que o tema está mais presente do que nunca na agenda corporativa e que estamos criando novos espaços de discussão e ação. Acredito que as empresas podem e devem retornar às comunidades e ao meio ambiente tudo aquilo que é de certa forma retirado deles no processo industrial.

Horyou apoia as iniciativas de inovação social que ajudam o mundo a alcançar os Objetivos de Desenvolvimento Sustentável

The researcher Diego Viana is a social currency enthusiast. By mixing philosophy and economics, his main fields of study, the Brazilian academic believes that we, as a society, need to rethink the current strategy to develop a more equal and fair system focused on people and its needs. In this interview for the Horyou blog, Viana comments Bitcoin, the role of social currencies within capitalism and the challenges surrounding them. He also gives his impressions on Horyou’s Spotlight, the first social global currency for economic inclusion, which was created to distribute wealth and promote a fair redistribution system. After participating in the IVth International Conference of Social and Complementary Currencies, in Barcelona, Viana gave this interview to the Horyou blog.

Diego Viana
Diego Viana

– What does your research consist of?

The basic question I’m concerned with is how our notions of what money is and what it does, associated to the architecture surrounding it, affect the ways we live, the habits we assume, the tasks we undertake. This research takes place within a philosophical framework in which the reasoning is focused more on how things come about than on how they can be defined. In other words, it’s a question of operations, not so much of essences.

From a practical point of view, the difference is that I try to understand money according to the movements in which it appears, rather than an understanding of its nature. This means that different kinds of movements (or operations) imply different notions of money. This in turn implies that money is necessarily much more than a tool to make exchange easier or smoother, it is the core operator of a whole system that defines how exchange actually takes place, and what roles we play when we engage in it.

It is very hard for us to understand this difference if we remain stuck in the contemporary idea of money, in which our savings, our shopping and our wages are all denominated in the same currency, which is also the currency of taxes, public investment, high finance, speculation… This has not always been the case and won’t necessarily be the case in the future: different elements can be used for different forms of interaction that today are performed by money. By the way, sociologists such as Viviana Zelizer have demonstrated that even our general purpose money is earmarked in its actual uses, according to gender, age, profession etc. This is an issue in which social currencies play a decisive part; more generally, I like to use the term “monetary invention”, because these currencies aren’t necessarily designated for a social use, there can be innumerable reasons to create other forms of currency. The important question regarding monetary invention is: what kind of operations and systems are we forging when me introduce and develop new monetary forms? if we don’t deal directly with this question, we’ll be turning in circles.

social currency

– Do you believe that social currencies are important tools for tackling inequalities and promoting economic inclusion?

Absolutely. This is exactly what I believe. But we must pay attention to the architecture that comes with the currencies, that is, the architecture that makes a certain currency act the way it does, otherwise the currency in question might serve very different purposes.

First of all, let us remember that the hegemonic money in our days is designed in such a way that it will almost necessarily generate more inequality: just think about Piketty’s research, or how the Troika acted regarding Southern Europe, or how the IMF acts regarding developing countries. In the post-war period, consider how complex the economic and social had to become in order to reverse, or at least mitigate, this tendency towards inequality. And consider how quickly the very same system turned back to economic and political concentration once the Welfare State began to be imploded.

Now let’s bring up Bitcoin, for example. One of the founding ideas of this digital currency is that there will be a limited amount of it, to make sure there won’t be a tendency towards runaway emission, since it is a system that works supposedly without human intervention. The result is that those who already own Bitcoins will have less and less incentives to spend it, and those who mined them early on will always have an advantage over those who adopted Bitcoin at later stages, or who obtain them by actually buying Bitcoins on the online markets. This design doesn’t favor inclusion or equality at all, quite the reverse.

So when the chips are down, the point is that currencies aimed at economic inclusion must be thought in such a manner that they will upend certain mechanisms associated to the hegemonic forms of money: a preference for accumulation and speculation, for example, or the need to work ever harder, even though the increased productivity has ceased to bring greater welfare. This has been tried and tested in many ways, but as long as they are simply correctives to general purpose money, these efforts fall short.

So in my view the great challenge is to articulate the community of social and complementary currencies in such a way that it will be preferable, for all those who don’t directly benefit from the speculation and accumulation promoted by contemporary money, to adopt other monetary forms. And also, as it goes, to generate forms of money that can’t be taken over by the banking system, a.k.a. “Big Money” (such a lovely nickname).

– Can social currencies thrive under capitalism?

There is much that can be done with social currencies under capitalism, from easing the connection between small businesses to the enforcement of local economies. But of course, these are all limited in scope, as I said in the examples above, since capitalism itself will only interact with them as long as they can be seen as assets available for monetization from the hegemonic banking system.

If by thriving we mean surviving and having a certain role in the wider world, sure, social currencies can complement capitalism quite well. But if we have greater ambitions for social currencies, for example, opening doors for a more sustainable, fair and humane world, then we must think of social currencies as inventing new forms of organizing the economies of collective living, beyond the mere exploitation and competition of capitalism. In this sense, to thrive means to overcome capitalism and cannot be done under it, except in the sense of underground, sapping its foundations.

– What are the main challenges you see for the global spreading of social currencies?

Aside from the challenges I mentioned above, I’d also bring up, firstly, the continued tendency to view social currencies, or complementary currencies, as merely a local feature, a strategy to improve the living conditions of this or that group or region. I’d also mention the difficulties concerning communication and, more important still, technologies: not every group of people involved in monetary invention has the ability to use technologies that articulate social currencies globally. But once more, there would have to be the desire to do just that: spread social currencies globally, in the sense of being articulated, perhaps convertible among themselves. After all, there already are social currencies all over the globe. The only question is whether this is part of a wider project or not. I would like it to be, for certain.

Spotlight, the first global social currency for economic inclusion, created by Horyou
Spotlight, the first global social currency for economic inclusion, created by Horyou

– Spotlight is a global social currency that aims to use internet interactions to promote wealth redistribution. Do you believe the Internet and social networks have a critical role for the success of social currencies?

This is easy to ascertain: since the digital technologies of blockchains and others came about, the attendance to social currency conferences has grown at an accelerated pace. To this I could add that even the smallest and most limited social currency initiatives seem to have projects for becoming digital these days. Also, barter clubs or time banks, which used to be associated to neighborhoods and other small territories, can now function in much wider contexts. Cellphones can be used for microcredit and social networks dedicated to lending and donating have been created.

Once again, it is a question of who holds the knowledge, thus the power, and above all how many participants actually share the conception of what can be done with a social currency and what it is being generated for. This is why, for example, the fact I mentioned above, about so many small social currencies going digital, is neither good nor bad in itself. But it does express a certain awe and amazement with technologies that is certainly not desirable. Technologies should be envisaged as the opening of possibilities to act, not as panaceas.

In the digital realm, the destiny of social currencies is inseparable from the destiny of the commons. For now, the commons are losing the war, as the plutocracy takes up more and more power. Let’s see if we can rethink the strategies and turn this over.

Diego Viana is a researcher at Diversitas (FFLCH-USP) and Iconomia (ECA-USP) Laboratories. PhD candidate at FFLCH-USP, Master in Philosophy (Nanterre) and economist (FEA-USP). Also a regular contributor for the press, most notably Valor Econômico and Página 22, in Brazil.

The Sustainable Development Goals are admirable and necessary –still, they are more an agenda than a set of concrete policies. In a new report, the United Nations Research Institute for Social Development (UNRIDS) shares examples of strategies and real policies to achieve the global objectives by 2030.

Policy Innovations for Transformative Change was launched on October 17th
Policy Innovations for Transformative Change was launched on October 17th

Launched on the International Day for Eradication of Poverty, October 17, Walking the Talk, the UNRIDS report on Policy Innovations for Transformative Change, brought a clear message to the governments and stakeholders involved in the implementation of the SDGs, engaging them to act on turning the agenda into fact. Displaying a full range of case studies along with a research-based social policy innovation approach, the report offers sustainable development, social care and economic solidarity solutions through the lens of transformative change.

Katja Rujo, the report coordinator for UNRIDS, asserted that transformative change digs to the roots of poverty, inequality and environmental destruction and is thus more effective than simply treating their symptoms. Palliative and one-size-fits-all interventions, for instance, are not enough; innovative and eco-social policies are more effective, as long as they promote sustainable production and consumption, power re-configurations and changes in economic and social structures.

Such programs are currently implemented in Brazil and India where an integrated approach that aims to achieve both social and environmental goals has been adopted. In Brazil, for instance, a program established in 2011 provides financial incentives to families that make a living out of collected forest products in return for a commitment to adopt a sustainable use of natural resources. In India, again, the law guarantees at least 100 days of paid employment each year for every rural household that focuses on water security, soil conservation and higher land productivity.

Cu-c-17XEAAc3Hi.jpg-large

On the care system side, the Uruguayan program Sistema Nacional de Cuidado enrolls young children and adults with specific needs or disabilities in the solidarity system, providing them with a minimum life quality standards. The program is a result of a broad political mobilization which includes social movements, women legislators and academics.

Isabel Ortiz, Director of the Social Protection Department with the International Labour Organization (ILO), pointed out that transformative change is a policy that reflects a new paradigm formed in the early 2000s in line with the SDGs. “It is the concept that social, economic and environmental issues are integrated, and that we should create policies and safety networks for everybody, not only the poor”, she explained.

The United Nations Research Institute for Social Development (UNRIDS) shares examples of real policies to achieve the SDGs
The United Nations Research Institute for Social Development (UNRIDS) shares examples of real policies to achieve the SDGs

The six keys areas mapped by the report are social policy, care, climate change, domestic resource mobilization, governance and social and solidarity economy. This multidisciplinary approach opens the gates to solutions in all 17 Sustainable Development Goals. It requires, however, a commitment from all actors on local, national, regional and global levels. “In 2016, 132 countries are cutting their budgets – not only in rich Europe but in many developing countries. How to implement SDGs in this scenario?”, asks Isabel. The answer might lie in innovation and efficiency – and research plays a vital role in this equation.

Written by Vivian Soares

Social Good Summit cover

One part of technology, two parts of social innovation, mixed with a generous deal of good intentions and a pinch of thoughtful investments: voilà! We have a recipe for successful social entrepreneurship. Horyou blog is media partner of the Social Good Summit, an impact investment and social innovation event which took place in Geneva on the 6th of October, during which we followed the journey of real-life changemakers and now share their stories!

Organized by Impact Hub in conjunction with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the one-day event was focused on promoting social entrepreneurship and impact investing for the achievement of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Dozens of entrepreneurs, investors, media and organizations shared success stories and inspiration to transform the world into a better place.

The Social Good Summit took place at Impact Hub office, in Geneva
The Social Good Summit took place at Impact Hub office, in Geneva

The opening speech was delivered by Sarah Bel and Maria Luisa Silva, from UNDP who called for the engagement of all actors to pursue the agenda of SDGs. The private sector and innovators are key participants on this social good path as “we will need an incredible amount of innovation in the next 15 years, and that’s exactly what the private sector does better”, said Maria Luisa. Karen Wilson, from the OECD, asked: “Why invest in social innovation? Because it makes good business sense – it is an innovative and increasingly accountable way to diversify portfolios”.

The Summit was then open to the real stories of young and brave finalists of Accelerate 2030, a social impact supporting program which received more than 177 applications from 10 countries. The 5 best projects were presented during the Social Good Summit. There were amazing stories such as Agruppa’s, a Colombian startup who has helped small food shop owners to buy 30% cheaper and be more competitive only by aggregating their demand in a mobile technology solution; or Ignitia’s, a tropical weather forecast company much more accurate and with a strong focus on small farmers from climate change vulnerable areas in Africa.

Agruppa was one of the Accelerate 2030 finalists
Agrippa was one of the Accelerate 2030 finalists
All the entrepreneurs gave a short pitch to the audience and then answered questions about their business models, challenges, potential grey areas and future developments. All of them were looking for investors and shared their prospective plans with a very engaged public.

Many of them face the challenge of maximizing their impact. “Good leadership, quick learning and simple business models are important drivers”, said John Ayliffee, CEO of Swiss Idea Box. Access to talent and to financing are also challenges, according to Krisztina Tora, from the UNLTD, especially in developing countries – difficulties like finding good back office professionals were mentioned by some entrepreneurs during the event. All of the speakers shared a vision for 2030: a world with equal opportunities for all social entrepreneurs, shared business models and markets. Deeper and broader positive impact on society.

Ignitia provides weather forecast for tropical regions
Ignitia provides weather forecast for tropical regions

Investors also had the opportunity to express their views on innovative ventures. Bertrand Gacon, from Lombard Obier bank, sees mainstream investors increasingly accepting the idea of impact investments – he believes entrepreneurs still have to work on liquidity mechanisms to be more attractive. Katherine Millinga, from Schwab Foundation, added that social enterprises should leverage technology, distribution and aggregation solutions to attract more investors.

Aymeric Jung, from Quadia, believes sustainable businesses are a matter of survival. “Impact investing is the new economy”, he said. Ivan Agabekov, from INOKS, explained impact is not a subcategory of investment – according to him, performance and impact should not be excluding.

The Social Good Summit ended with their visions of the future – a more impactful one, with more innovative and profitable social entrepreneurs and a true aim to turn the Sustainable Development Goals into reality. Being a strong supporter of the SDGs, Horyou shares their views and believes that the future lies in social innovation & social good. 2030, here we go!

Written by Vívian Soares

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