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Social Good Summit demonstrates youth commitment to the future

By M.OYUNGEREL

What kind of a world do we want to live in by the year 2030?
Leaders from 192 countries have gathered at the UN General Assembly in New York, from September 25 to 27, and adopted the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, a set of 17 goals.
Meanwhile, another event was taking place on the other side of the globe – Social Good Summit (SGS).
SGS is a global event that brings people together to “unlock the potential of technology and to make the world a better place”. The event takes place in approximately 100 countries in the world, and it was streamed live on the internet. One of these countries was Mongolia.
SGS Mongolia took place on September 26, at IT Park from 8:00 am to 3:00 pm. This was the second time the event was held in Mongolia. The main organizers were the Center for Civic Education, IT Park, United Nations Volunteers, United Nations Youth Advisory Panel, and the Mongolian Youth Council.
This year’s summit focused on health, environment, education and opportunities concerning youth, technology and sustainable development goals.
Over 200 people were selected to participate from the online registration.
“Many people sent requests and applications to us but we chose them based on their essays about why they wanted to participate and how they could impact change,” said R.Narangerel, the director of the Center for Civic Education.
UNDP’s Deputy Resident Representative Thomas Eriksson reminded, “We have no planet B”, and therefore the only way forward is sustainable development, which is development without harming the planet.
He highlighted that everybody and every action has an impact.
“It’s about how we live, how we behave, how we invest, how we consume, and how we do business.”
“We have engaged people, many young people here to find solutions, work and identify how this agenda could help Mongolia become a better place, how it could make the world a better place. So 2030 starts now, with your voices,” said Eriksson.
Parliament member Ts.Oyungerel gave a motivating speech to young people to take the summit’s goals as opportunities, contribute in reaching these goals and change, as an individual, as a nation and as one world.
“During my time, democracy was the thing. I dedicated about half my life to democracy. Now, Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) are the thing. This is your time,” she said.
Ts.Oyungerel pointed out Mongolia’s inability to fulfill two of the seven Millennium Development Goals (MDG) against poverty.
“The Prime Minister and I went to New York two weeks ago to discuss the wins and losses of the MDG and what to do in the future with the SDG’s. We are ashamed that we couldn’t use the chance to solve the issues and fulfill the two goals. Now in fifteen years, we don’t want to be saying ‘We had all these capital but we couldn’t use it’ again,” she said.
She underlined the need for better technology, innovators and businesses.
“I believe these innovators here will make a change. We will fulfill our duties and I hope you do too. But talking about it is one thing and executing is another. I want you to take the issues I talked about as an opportunity and do something about it, and share it,” Ts.Oyungerel said.
Next, actor B.Amarsaikhan, who portrayed Arigbukh in the Netflix series “Marco Polo”, gave a humorous and inspiring speech based on his life experience.
Khusugtun Ethnic band then played an extraordinary piece titled “Chinggis Khaan”.
The crowd was divided into three categories after lunch, and the discussions started in corresponding rooms: Information Technology (IT) and Physical and Mental Health; IT and Quality Education; and IT, environment, climate change and overcoming the impacts.
Each discussion was held for two hours and had a speaker, a moderator and three panelists. It was organized in a panel discussion format. Usually in a panel, the panelists discuss within the guidelines provided by the moderator in front of an audience, followed by questions.
Some of the audience wasn’t aware of the discussion format or even what a panelist or a moderator was. Due to the lack of explanation, people had different expectations. In the education session, the moderator allowed questions from the audience and I heard many say “this wasn’t a discussion.” I felt that a simple explanation would have saved a lot of time and confusion at the summit.
The education session had the most people, about twice the size of people in the session on environment. The director of Khovd University, Yanjmaa, gave a speech about the accessibility of education. The session was mainly about self development, accessibility of education and the way it related to social media. The importance of education quality for the disabled was noted by hearing-impaired participants. What comes after formal education, as well as the issues that revolve around it was discussed. Ongoing projects about education were also introduced.
Some participants felt that the discussion should have revolved around education, opportunities and information technology, and youth involvement in improving these issues to fulfill the SDG.
“If the topic was about the current education system and the problems throughout the country, I would have been more than satisfied. However, the panel deviated into a different fields. Instead of talking about educational opportunities, such as scholarships and funding opportunities or websites that provide free courses such as edX, and Coursera, the topics revolved around the general issues the education system is facing,” said one participant.
Saranchuluun, the first prosthetic legged marathon runner in Mongolia gave the speech at the summit. The IT and Health panel discussed about health issues such as stress, weight, and appetite. It also focused on the over usage of social media, which could be the cause of stress and loss of confidence.
The panelists also delved into the positive impacts social media and discussed personal experiences. At the end of the discussion, they came to the conclusion that the individual’s attitude is what really matters if they want to resolve these health issues.
As a solution to the problems discussed, the session participants came up with an idea to build a smartphone application that gives information about food security and health problems in Mongolian. During the discussion, I found an 82-year-old woman expressing her view about healing through music.
“The reason I can attend these events just like you young people is because I have learned to treat myself with music,” she said, and encouraged the use of music against stress.
Until this point, the panelists’ discussions on information technology was limited to social media.
In the IT and environments session, Bayarkhuu, a broker, presented his current project concerning the zud, a blizzard. The smaller number of viewers enabled the discussion to be held in the traditional way with everyone sitting around. The discussion revolved around four main topics; climate change, its impact on everyday life, government policies concerning the issue, and young people’s roles in halting climate change.
“Climate change is everyone’s responsibility. We are required to expect solutions and policies from these new candidates in the election,” the moderator said.
Forever Young band, which originated from the Orange Sessions against domestic abuse, performed at the event and talked about sending a powerful message against abuse through music.
The moderators of every session later came up on stage and gave a quick overview of the discussions.
The participants at the event also gave valuable information, such as the news about the translation of Khan Academy videos into Mongolian and the possibility of using free Microsoft and Google Education programs.
The participants said at the end that they were proud of the level of youth involvement in this event.
The event was streamed live online for the people who didn’t have the opportunity to attend.
Approximately 30 volunteers helped with the organization for over a month. A sign language translator had been provided for viewers with special needs. She did an outstanding job translating the whole program for seven hours, even translating song lyrics.
“In the end, although there were some minor strays from the main topic, the summit showed how engaged young people in Mongolia are in the SDG,” said one participant after the event.

Short URL: http://ubpost.mongolnews.mn/?p=16372

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1 Comment for “Social Good Summit demonstrates youth commitment to the future”

  1. Thanks for the article. Just a clarification – the main organizers were UNDP and UNFPA Mongolia. More info here: http://www.mn.undp.org/content/mongolia/en/home/presscenter/articles/2015/09/01/social-good-summit-meet-up-in-mongolia-/

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