U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry at the 2016 Social Good Summit. Photo by: Freya Morales / UNDP / CC BY-NC-ND

U.S. Vice President Joe Biden and wife Jill Biden, the new queen of Netflix Chelsea Handler, teen superstar Cody Simpson, 30 Rock actor Alec Baldwin and U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Samantha Power all mingled in New York this weekend at the Social Good Summit.

Development practitioners, NGO leaders and celebrities convene each year at the summit to discuss the latest at the intersection of tech and social good. This year’s event, hosted by Mashable in partnership with the United Nations Foundation, the United Nations Development Program and the 92nd Street Y, was no different.

In 2015, Social Good Summit attendees were implored to tell everyone about the sustainable development goals. This year’s attendees were urged to examine how they could play a role in the 2030 agenda. By using their passions, communities and skills as an entry point, those tuned in to the summit were encouraged to contribute to achieving the goals in big and small ways.

Here are our four takeaways:

1. Everyone has something they can contribute to the goals.

Chelsea Handler spoke about how she is using her show on Netflix, which reaches 190 countries in 22 languages around the world, to tackle issues such as climate change, refugees and the importance of education. Jean Case of the Case Foundation emphasized the importance of creating equal opportunities for female and minority entrepreneurs who are often best equipped to create solutions in their communities but lack funding, mentorship and support.

2. Young people are already driving the SDGs in the right direction.

Young people took the stage to talk about the issues facing youth and shared the ways they are leading globally — from representing refugees at the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Games to raising awareness for ocean preservation to fighting for disability rights and access.

Ahmad Alhendawi, the U.N. secretary-general's envoy on youth, also announced the inaugural class of 17 U.N. Young Leaders who were selected from more than 18,000 applicants for their leadership on efforts to achieve the goals.

3. Tech will play a big part in achieving the SDGS — and it’s all about how we use it.

As more of the world gets online, apps are here to stay. Panelists spoke about the impact of mobile technology as a means to educate, inspire and elicit action. A new app, SDGs in Action, released by GSMA and Project Everyone lets users learn more about the SDGs, track the goals they care about and create personal actions to support them.

4. Global leaders are finally ready to take action on refugees.

Ambassador Samantha Power spoke about President Barack Obama’s legacy, highlighting that refugee action is central to conversations in New York this week.

“President Obama is putting refugees at the center of his time here,” Power said.

The need to shift from a short-term response to long-term solutions was driven home by UNHCR chief Filippo Grandi: "Humanitarian resources are not a solution — they are a stop gap."

Check back on our coverage of New York Global Dev Week here, follow @Devex and join the conversation using #GlobalGoals.

About the author

  • Carine Umuhumuza

    Carine Umuhumuza is a former associate director of communications at Devex, where she wrote about the latest trends, tips, and insights on media and communications for the global development community. Previously, Carine led digital initiatives at Devex for development agencies, major corporations, NGOs, and social enterprises.