BEIRUT: Enjoying the music and nibbling on appetizers that complemented their drinks, the young audience filled Teatro Verdun Wednesday night. The UNDP organized its sixth annual Social Good Summit in Lebanon, and no one wanted to be left out from planning the 2030 they all dream of.
This meeting is an international initiative, whereby more than 111 meetings take place in different cities around the world.
According to Celine Moyroud, UNDP Country Director, the annual Social Good Summit is a gathering of global thought leaders, new media and technology experts, grassroots activists, and influential voices around the globe.
The summit took place during the United Nations General Assembly week and focused on how technology and innovation can help advance global progress for everyone, everywhere. The Social Good Summit is a collaboration between Mashable, the United Nations Foundation, the United Nations Development Program, and 92nd Street Y, organizers noted.
“The Summit unites a lively community of global citizens and progressive thought leaders around a common theme: #2030NOW,” said Moyroud. “The Social Good Summit focuses on how we can unlock technology’s potential to make the world a better place for a dynamic exploration of the world we want to live in by 2030.”
In Lebanon, the Social Good Summit is an annual event that brings together activists, university students, journalists, NGO representatives, bloggers and strong influencers to share and exchange knowledge, debate about hot topics and discuss big ideas aiming to find solutions to issues that impact today's youth.
Introducing the summit, Mona El Yassir, UNDP Communication Officer, mentioned the topics focused on this year.
“This year’s agenda includes peacebuilding and social cohesion/stability, press freedom and freedom of expression on social media, promotion of human rights, inclusiveness & equality (youth and gender), and civic engagement,” said El Yassir.
The slogan picked for the year is “Leaving no one behind,” a topic geared to facilitate discussion regarding how to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals or SDGs by the year 2030.
The 17 SDGs ranging from “No poverty,” aimed at ending poverty in all forms, to “Partnership for the Goals,” strengthening the Global Partnership for Sustainable Development replaced the Millenium Development Goals, when the former were adopted by the UN General Assembly in New York in 2015. During the session, the General Assembly set the 2030 agenda designed to shift the world into a sustainable path, organizers noted.
Three panels covering fake news, freedom of expression on social media, and corruption on economic recovery with emphasis on the role of youth and the private sector were conducted in two sessions, in which all three discussions were moderated by Ziad Abdel Samad, Executive Director of the Arab NGO Network for Development (ANND).
The first discussion on fake news tackled the risks of spreading such information to the society, and how it threatens its cohesion and social stability. The panelist during this discussion was Haramoun Hamieh from Hulool organization, which specializes in fact checking. Hamieh presented samples of fake and real news in means to differentiate between them.
“Fake news spreads five times faster than regular news because of the sensational vocab choice and the misleading titles,” said Hamieh. “In that sense, we as individuals should be more careful with what we share with others.”
She then proceeded to give an example on that, which is Merkel’s news about her devastation after visiting Lebanon, which, after checking, turns out to be misquoted. “More to that, if we check the section in which this article was published in, we would recognize its sensational title ‘News that you wouldn’t find elsewhere’ and that speaks volumes about the credibility of the publication.”
The second panel about freedom of expression on social media tackled the issue from three points of view: a traditional media viewpoint was presented by Rana Najjara, freelance journalist and media consultant, an activist approach presented by Gino Raidy, Lebanese blogger, and a human rights dimension presented by George Ghali, Executive Director at ALEF Liban.
“I’ve been blogging for over nine years, in which I was called twice to the Office of Information Crime and my blog was censored in a third incident,” said Raidy. “Instead of keeping track of peoples’ opinions we should focus our efforts on targeting fake news – which is not information we don’t agree with, but rather information that an elementary student can distinguish as fake but we can’t because of our prejudices.”
The last panel was about corruption on economic recovery; it included Nabil Abdo, Senior Researcher for ANND, who gave an introduction about the influence of corruption on the economy; Joumana Talhouk, representative from Mada Youth Network, who tackled the youth’s role in raising awareness on corruption and their duty to promote collective actions; and Badri El Meouchi, Corporate Governance Consultant from Tamayyaz, who touched on how to enhance awareness and create lobbying groups to cease business corruption.
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