Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Social Good Summit aims to put social media to work for development during UN Week

African first ladies tweeting for the first time is only one of many wonders of technology and global development to be highlighted at the upcoming Social Good Summit and its Digital Media Lounge to be held during the U.N. General Assembly next week in New York.

The United Nations Foundation and its high tech partners behind the Summit gave us a sneak peek of coming attractions during a tele-briefing yesterday.

There will be a head of state at the Social Good Summit — President Kikwete will accept an award for his commitment to furthering technology and new media in Tanzania — and the first ladies of Kenya, Nigeria and South Africa will also be on hand to tackle Twitter. In an event entitled “First Ladies, First Tweets,” they will publicly demonstrate their first efforts to harness social media to advance their issues.


The four-day agenda is packed with a mix of celebrities promoting their particular health issues (Ted Turner, Lance Armstrong, Barbara Bush, Geena Davis, Christy Turlington Burns, Mandy Moore), development champions (Raj Shah, Jeffrey Sachs and Muhammad Yunus) and technological innovators, like the heads of Mashable, R to Z Media, Skype and many others.

Kathy Calvin, CEO of the UN Foundation, said that the Social Good Summit is an example of the kind of things that “UNF does to support the United Nations that the UN would not be able to do easily on its own. In this case, to highlight new technologies that help have more development impact for less cost.”

Calvin said that the global health issues focused on by the Summit include non-communicable diseases (the High-Level Meeting on NCDs Sept. 19-20 is a highlight of the week) and maternal and child health, including malaria, polio and measles.

"This is no longer a question of whether social media can change the world — we know it can," said Randi Zuckerberg, founder of R to Z Media and the moderator of the briefing. She hopes the Summit will allow people to share very specific case studies of efforts that have worked.: “How do we mobilize more people to use new technologies to achieve concrete actions?”

An example is “Spread the Buzz to Stop the Spread of Malaria: An Interactive Facebook Town Hall.” That Zuckerberg will moderate and will feature Mandy Moore, malaria ambassador for PSI.

I am looking forward to blogging from the Digital Media Lounge at the 92nd Street Y all next week. I was at the first Social Good Summit last year for a day, and wished I had spent more time there. You can apply here.

And for those who either can’t get into the Social Good Summit or can’t get enough of social media, ONE, Women Deliver, and Vestergaard Frandsen are organizing another event to prove that social media can be a powerful tool to educate, inform, inspire, and make real change on issues like HIV/AIDS, maternal health, child health, clean water and environmental sustainability. The event, “Blogging for Good: Connecting Online Audiences to Offline Actions for Women” will be held 6:30 to9:00 pm at Westin at Times Square and you can RSVP here.

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