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Finance & Innovation

Greenpeace’s blazing conviction and other standouts from day 2 of the Social Good Summit

“I stand before you somewhat nervous,” said Kumi Naidoo, the international director of Greenpeace, as he approached the lectern in the middle of day 2 of the Social Good Summit.

From the moment he stepped on stage, Naidoo broke with the calm atmosphere of the Summit. His vehement plea for action was the most mesmerizing event of the day.

He railed against the concentration of power and corruption that stifles climate action around the world, reminding the audience that “just because something is legal does not make it just.”

He invoked a friend who was murdered by apartheid who told him that the greatest thing you can do for humanity is not to give your life, but to give the rest of your life. And he made a passionate case for the need to urgently take action.

“One of the challenges of the moment is to muster up a billion acts of courage,” he said.

Naidoo’s session was the farthest thing from empty rhetoric. This was a man on fire with conviction. Earlier in the day, partly because of pressure from Greenpeace and other organizations, Shell backed out of its plans to drill in the Arctic. Important, because if the oil in the Arctic is extracted and burned, then the climate fight is basically over.

Other takeaways from day 2 of the Social Good Summit:

1) The day started on the right note with a focus on refugees

Rebecca Milner and Sienna Miller told the crowd that 80% of the roughly 60 million global refugees are women and children. 42,500 people become displaced each day and the average amount of time spent in displacement is 17 years, according to Sienna.

“If you attack a woman, you attack the fabric of society,” said Rebecca. Locally trained psychosocial workers and midwives are critical components in the effort to aid refugees.

2) Trans-tipping point? Or a protracted state of emergency?

Laverne Cox was joined by Shelby Chestnut and Cecilia Chung to talk about the need for more data visibility for transgender people.

When deep stigmatization exists in society, trans people are intimidated from declaring their status. This causes violence and discrimination to go unreported all the time. Plus, many governments simply do not attempt to quantify the number of trans people, where they are located and what support they need. If there was better data, then the pressure of statistics would cause policy change and mobilize necessary resources.

3) Everyone needs to be a feminist

Freida Pinto and Amber Khan drove this point home. Conflict zones, especially, need to be vectors of feminism.

4) “Our generation can be the one to end AIDS,” Charlize Theron.

Growing up in South Africa, Charlize Theron saw many people die from the virus, and she thought, inevitably, that she would die from it, too.

She warned the crowd not to let the complacency of good medicine distract the world from eradicating this horrific disease. The fear is that AIDS will come raring back if attention lulls.

5)  Enric Sala on the oceans

Enric Sala painted a pretty grim picture of the oceans, but also pointed toward salvation.

Less than 1% percent of the oceans are protected and this has led to the destruction of coral reefs, fish populations and negative changes in the composition of water. Perhaps most garishly, the vast islands of plastic trash floating in the oceans symbolize the reckless treatment of the oceans as a wasteland.

But more parts of the ocean are coming under protection, leading to huge surges in fish populations, fish quality, water quality and biodiversity. These sanctuaries are also major engines of economic growth as they attract tourism, require maintenance and allow for more consistent fishing.

6) The world needs $1.18 per child per day for education. Currently, the world is 14 cents short. That’s way less than a cup of coffee.

Julia Gillard made a strong case for funding global education.

7) Mastercard processes 42 billion bits of information per second.

The need for more data was a prominent theme throughout the day and the volume processed by Mastercard is certainly impressive. The question is, how can this data be used for good?

Data collection around the world is gender asymmetrical, meaning women are often poorly accounted for.

As data becomes even more widespread, many problems around the world can be better tackled as people will finally be able to grasp their dimensions. 

But Bill Hoffman of the World Economic Forum warned the audience against myopia. "We're all pointing to the moon, but looking at our fingers," he said.

8) Virtual reality as the next frontier for empathy?

Virtual reality technology used to convey crises around the world has the potential to mobilize citizens in peaceful countries, according to one of the sessions at the Summit.

"We get to bring the velocity of technology to bone-deep storytelling,” said panelist Christian Stephen.


Overall, day 2 brought together a refreshing array of perspectives from the non-profit and corporate spheres.

You can check out the rest of the summit’s events on our liveblog.

And go to TAKE ACTION NOW to show your support of the Global Goals. 


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