"Taking Action Online", by ConnectAID's Board Member Adam Rogers provides a step-by-step advice on how to use social media for social good, raise funds, build communities and inspire action for achieving together the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
Can Social Media really be used for Social Good and to achieve the SDGs?
The internet, as it is known today, was originally developed by the US military as a tool for communication with and command of its forces and weapons around the world. It is a beautiful irony that something that was once created for war now offers our best chance at creating everlasting peace—prospering as diverse communities in harmony with the environment and with each other.
Never has it been as possible for nearly everyone, everywhere to take part in and take action for creating a better world. We can reach across oceans and connect with people we may never meet in person. We can access information and knowledge about nearly everything under the sun on our smartphones. We can and must all be aware of the problems plaguing our planet and how we each may be at least partially responsible for them.
No matter where we are located, if we have a phone or a computer, we can take action online to address environmental challenges, to support social justice for all, and to advance sustainable development.
But opportunities require work to become realities, and peace is still an elusive concept for many people. Since 1945, despite a half century of nuclear standoff and multiple smaller conflicts, big wars don't seem to happen anymore. However, although deaths from conflict have been steadily declining since the Spanish Civil War, there is much work to do until we can finally declare Peace on Earth.
Another obstacle to peace: despite enormous progress in the last 20 years, a third of the world's population lives in extreme poverty, while more than 15,000 children die daily from preventable causes (which is still much better than the 35,000 daily deaths of children under 5 that we saw in the 1990s).
Carbon continues to build up in the earth’s atmosphere, influencing global weather patterns with unpredictable and potentially devastating consequences for the people below. Most projections of the effects of climate change envisage intense competition for increasingly scarce resources–leading to regional instability, social unrest, and wars over water. Despite advances in modern medicine, many countries lack adequate health infrastructure or are shackled by corruption and insurance schemes that exclude massive segments of the population—making them more vulnerable when health emergencies arise. In many countries, although laws are in place to safeguard human rights and justice for all, huge gaps remain in how these laws are applied and for whom.
There are now more than 2.3 billion active social media users worldwide, about a third of the planet’s population. This ubiquitous presence makes social media an unavoidable part of any strategy to support, fundraise, and advocate for and/or contribute to the achievement of the social, environmental, and political causes like the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals.
Unlike the past, where campaigners blindly communicated and hoped for the best, social media enables you to target and engage with potential supporters, partners, and like-minded activists in real time.
As Helen Clark points out in the foreword to my new book, Taking Action Online, social media, like anything, can help or hinder societal progress depending on how it is used. Its negative influences are well documented. As she says, social media "stands accused of everything from causing anxiety and depression among teens to creating echo chambers for fake news and political bias."
Helen says Taking Action Online presents a positive view of social media and "how it can be used to support efforts to end poverty, protect the planet, and ensure that all people everywhere are able to live in peace and with shared prosperity."
By Adam Rogers, Author of Taking Action Online