Inspiration for Change at Social Good Summit 2014

As UN Week begins in New York City this week, the Mashable and UN Foundation Social Good Summit is in full swing. Changemakers, innovators, global leaders from diverse backgrounds are gathering again this year to figure out how we can end poverty by 2030.

The second day kicked off with a message of hope and action from UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, followed by an interview of Nick Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn, authors of Half the Sky, whose new book, A Path Appears, launches tomorrow. Kristof and WuDunn spoke about how their new work seeks to identify ways in which we can “spread opportunity” through well-targeted, intelligent interventions. They spoke about how they learned that researchers have identified early-life interventions targeted at infants and toddlers as having potential extraordinary impact – such as encouraging parents to talk and read to their children, the push for universal pre-K, improving access to primary health care for underprivileged new and expectant mothers and at-risk young children. Targeting very young children – when the “plasticity of their minds is still pliable”, as WuDunn noted – can help pave the way for success in the rest of childhood, and in life. This type of analysis highlights how more and more, do-gooders are relying on data, evidence and research to define, design and implement successful interventions to help relieve poverty and inequality.

Kristof mentioned a couple of times in his talk that this is not about finding a “silver bullet”, but about “silver buckshots” – lots of small interventions, which, combined, have an overall strong impact. The Social Good Summit  – a 2-day, action-packed event, with dozens of speakers and short panels, where everything from protecting endangered species, to drone technology and empowering transgender communities is discussed – is a good embodiment of this notion of “silver buckshots.” One of today’s speakers, world famous neuroscientist Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor,  spoke about how we are all “energy beings having an energy experience,” which is actually the perfect way to describe the experience of attending the Social Good Summit. Should your belief in the ability of humankind to affect positive change need a boost, I highly suggest connecting with the Social Good Summit – you can watch the recordings here, or check out the hashtags #2030NOW, #SGS14 and #SGS2014.

UN Week is a week “progress hustlers” (as Ben Goldhirsh, founder and CEO of Good, described the community of movers-and-shakers gathering in New York this week