This year marked the 10th anniversary of the Social Good Summit, an annual conference hosted by the UN Foundation, Mashable, 92nd Street Y and the United Nations Development Programme that celebrates advocacy and activism for social impact.
While this year’s Summit focused on climate change, in line with the Climate Summit during the UN General Assembly and on the heels of the climate strikes around the world, there were many conversations applicable to every social good movement.
The climate action movement has highlighted the increasing prominence of “new power” in addressing today’s pressing issues. No longer are people satisfied to sit back and let the traditional power structures control the discussions and decision making. This was on full display at the Social Good Summit, where a number of speakers hit the nail on the head on the importance of engaging youth, indigenous and underserved people, and ultimately all voices in solving problems.
Here are 11 quotes from the Social Good Summit that highlighted the importance of new power in driving change and solving the world’s most pressing problems:
- “If there hadn’t been bottom-up organizing, a lot of us wouldn’t be here right now… Absolutely everything on the ground makes all the difference.” – Elizabeth Yeampierre, Executive Director of UPROSE
- “Indigenous communities need to have a seat at the table. They may not be in NYC, Paris or London, but they have the knowledge to create change.” – Hindou Ibrahim, Environmental Activist, Geographer and Coordinator of the Association of Peul Women & Autochthonous Peoples of Chad
- “For a young person to fulfill their potential, we’ve got to open the door for them and we’ve got to let them lead.” – Dr. Natalia Kanem, Executive Director of UNFPA
- “Enabling youth leadership isn’t about teaching young people…It’s about listening to them.” – Latham Thomas, author and founder of Mama Glow
- There is an unfair power balance between youth organizations and funder organizations – Jayathma Wickramanayake, UN Youth Observer
- ”If you look at history, all major movements that changed the world were started by young people.” – Catherine Flowers, Alabama Center for Rural Enterprise and Environmental Justice
- “Do not confuse youthful moral clarity with naivete.” Dr. Ayanna E. Johnson, Founder/CEO of OceanCollectiv and Founder of Urban Ocean Lab
- “The more activism that is out there and the more you can inspire others is really important – we need everyone’s involvement, not just a few.” – Cindy McCain, Chairman of the Board, The McCain Institute for International Leadership
- “We’ve got complex problems, but we can only solve them with a collective response…We cannot do it without women and girls from the global South.” – Sarah Spiker, Global Project Operations Manager, Cotton-On Foundation
- “This is our collective moment in history to disrupt the status quo, & the Social Good Summit is just the kind of platform young people need to have their voices heard loud and clear.” – Achim Steiner, Administrator, UN Development Programme
- “All of us share the responsibility and the opportunity to co-create a better world.” – Christiana Figueres, Founding Partner Global Optimism, Former Executive Secretary UN Climate Commission
Missed the Social Good Summit? You can watch it here.
Learn more about the role of new power in driving change: sgENGAGE Podcast Episode 106: The Power of Movements