Reflections on The Social Good Summit

Conference comes on the heels of Sustainable Development Goals adoption
Sienna Miller addresses the crowd at the 2015 Social Good Summit. Photo courtesy Casey Kelbaugh.

Editor's Note: Earlier this week, several Action Against Hunger team members participated in the Social Good Summit in New York. Our thanks to Natalie Edmonds, Tomi De Torres, Asif Khan, and Jorge Taveras for this piece.

“This is a time of fear and heartbreak…but this is also a time for hope.” So said UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, kicking off the two-day Social Good Summit, convened by Mashable, the United Nations Foundation, and UNDP at New York City’s 92nd Street Y. Two days prior, the United Nations General Assembly adopted the new Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and the theme for the day, #2030NOW, put those 17 global commitments at the forefront of the conversation.

These goals provide a big to-do list for the next 15 years, and, as Richard Curtis -- the filmmaker who is helping these goals become famous through his Project Everyone campaign -- said, “Our challenges require us to approach our solution with ‘and,’ not ‘either/or.’”

Action Against Hunger works every day toward reaching goals two and six, zero hunger and clean water and sanitation.  It is clear that we cannot solve global problems, and create sustainable societies, without addressing underlying issues like hunger and access to clean water.

Our staff attended the 2015 Social Good Summit as part of the launch of the SDGs. As our work ties in closely with the SDGs, we were excited to hear speakers who advocated passionately -- and shined a light on areas that are often overlooked. Rebecca Milner of International Medical Corps and actress Sienna Miller highlighted the importance of the refugee crisis. “Eighty percent of displaced people are women and children. They come from conflict areas, and not just Syria, it’s South Sudan. It’s the Democratic Republic of Congo,” she said. At Action Against Hunger, we work tirelessly with displaced communities in these countries and many others. While needs in the DRC and South Sudan are extensive, they are not covered extensively by the media. Humanitarians, business leaders, celebrities, students, and activists at the Social Good Summit emphasized the importance of continued awareness of often ignored crises and issues.

Panelists also echoed Action Against Hunger’s calls for peace, recognizing that the only real way to curb humanitarian needs across the world is to stabilize countries at war. David Miliband, President & CEO of the International Rescue Committee, emphasized that “we need political solutions to humanitarian problems” and Former US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright underscored that “the international community needs to be doing more.” These voices for further action are crucial to solving issues of displacement and extreme poverty.

The SDGs and the Social Good Summit show a renewed commitment to the work done by Action Against Hunger and our fellow humanitarian NGOs. They call on world leaders to do their part to help stem the worst concerns facing us today, and mobilize people everywhere to take action.

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