2030 now: reflections on the 2014 Social Good Summit

Written by: The DHS Program

26 Sep, 2014

Social Good Summit Banner2 Days. 45 Sessions. 97 speakers. An audience that wants to think critically about the issues the world faces today and what it will look like in 2030. That was the setup for this year’s Social Good Summit, hosted by Mashable and the UN foundation in New York City during UN week.

On September 21-22, 2014, I was in the audience, which was both exhausting and exhilarating. As with anything involving social media, the action was non-stop. The agenda was fast-paced (no, really, things were scheduled in 5 minute increments) and topics ranged from women’s empowerment to conflict-free technology, from maternal and child health to the realities of climate change.

But there was a common thread connecting speakers as diverse as Dr. Jim Kim, Helen Clark, Nicholas Kristof, and Dr. Donald Hopkins. Each speaker took the stage and proclaimed the absolute imperative of collecting quality data. It is data that will allow us to accurately measure the progress we’ve made towards achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). Data will drive decisionmaking not only for the next set of goals, but on policies and programs that shape the way the world looks in 2030, 2050, and beyond.

The MDGs have been touted as being widely successful in ramping up initiatives to tackle the world’s biggest problems. But without many of the indicators included in DHS surveys on maternal and child health, HIV, malaria, and women’s empowerment, we wouldn’t know how to create meaningful metrics to track them. We wouldn’t know what we’ve achieved and where we’ve fallen short.

Of course, the presentations were about much more than just data collection and use. We heard stories about education and connecting classrooms half a world away. Richard Curtis persuaded participants to “star” in his next movie. Alicia Keys wrapped up day one by speaking about her new “We are here” campaign and performing the song she wrote to spur the movement. She urged the audience to consider our interconnectedness and reflect about how each one of us could think less about “I” and more about “we.”

On Monday, as the Social Good Summit began its second day, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon reflected:

“Your ideas can help make #2030Now. It’s more than a hashtag—it’s a vision.”

Everyone has their own ideas about what the future will bring, and many presenters at the Social Good Summit, including Richard Stengel, appealed to the audience with urgency. In the end, these calls for action reflect the most important aspect of the Summit, that the sharing and learning isn’t over. We can all reflect on what “2030 now” means and how the choices we make now will affect our collective future.

Did you have a chance to participate in the Social Good Summit, in NYC or online? What does #2030Now mean to you? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

And—because this is about social media after all – #ICYMI, here’s the video feed, so you can catch up and join the conversation.


  • The Demographic and Health Surveys (DHS) Program has collected, analyzed, and disseminated accurate and representative data on population, health, HIV, and nutrition through more than 400 surveys in over 90 countries. The DHS Program is funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). Contributions from other donors, as well as funds from participating countries, also support surveys. The project is implemented by ICF.

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Anthropometry measurement (height and weight) is a core component of DHS surveys that is used to generate indicators on nutritional status. The Biomarker Questionnaire now includes questions on clothing and hairstyle interference on measurements for both women and children for improved interpretation.