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Echoing Green’s 2019 Summit Examines Social Innovation and the Sustainable Development Goals

Percilla Frizzell '18, founder of Sacred Generations, and Kevin Kung '19, co-founder of Takachar, discuss their work and impact at the Echoing Green Summit.

Social entrepreneurs, business leaders, philanthropists, and investors from around the world gathered in Los Angeles for Echoing Green’s Summit on Social Innovation

This November, the 2019 Echoing Green Summit gathered more than 300 of the world’s most promising social entrepreneurs, industry professionals, corporate champions, impact investors, and thought leaders. Along with hosting a week of peer-led workshops, advisory sessions, and consultations for Fellows, we launched a Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) Engagement track as part of this year’s programming.

On the Frontlines of the SDGs

As a global community of almost 1,000 social entrepreneurs, Echoing Green has the unique convening capability to bring together leaders and practitioners who are tackling key global challenges in innovative and different ways. Throughout the week, each SDG Engagement track convened working groups to identify the challenges and opportunities facing their respective fields, including topics like Decent Work (SDG 8), Reducing Inequality (SDG 10), and Climate Action (SDG 13). Fellows defined concrete issues within an SDG goal, outlined current and potential solutions for that issue, and proposed actions to move the goal forward.

Echoing Green’s unique perspective within the social entrepreneurship and social innovation field, where leaders are on the front-lines of tackling these issues, brought forward ideas and perspectives not discussed in the traditional development conversations. The SDGs, by nature of being a UN framework, are too often lacking in bringing in new stakeholders and embedding opportunities for innovation to grow. By engaging across sectors, and putting innovation at the heart of the conversation, we unearthed new insights, new recommendations, and a new path forward to examining and achieving the goal.

Achieving Social Change Across Sectors

We were thrilled to be joined by other notable speakers who addressed multi-sector, collaborative approaches to achieving social change. Don Gips, CEO of the Skoll Foundation, discussed how to better engage social entrepreneurship and innovation as a means to addressing deeply rooted systemic challenges. Stockton Mayor Michael Tubbs, in conversation with Echoing Green Fellow Gina Clayton-Johnson, discussed his work innovating the city of Stockton through initiatives like the Stockton Economic Empowerment Demonstration (SEED), the U.S.’s first-ever mayor-led basic income pilot. And finally, Elizabeth Grizzle Voorhees, managing director of creative initiatives at Define American; Reyna Montoya, Echoing Green Fellow and founder of Aliento; and Aaron Samuels, co-founder and COO of Blavity, focused on the importance of the stories behind social change work—the stories that bring the data to life, attract resources, and galvanize a movement.

These leaders, along with more than 120 Echoing Green Fellows, joined conversations with more than 200 partners and guests including representatives from Guggenheim Partners, Mastercard Center for Inclusive Growth, Stanford Graduate School of Business, YouTube, Devex, and more.

Building Equity and Sustainability for All

As we continue to grapple with challenges central to systems change and social entrepreneurship, we were proud to host a Summit that asked what role our moral imagination can play when it comes to building an equitable and sustainable future. Participants were able to get a deeper understanding of social entrepreneurship and the SDGs, new connections to potential partners and experts across fields, and new ideas for how key trends can influence and impact their work.

To view photos from the 2019 Summit, visit our Facebook page.

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