An Open Day for Global Citizenship in India!
What made the Global Citizenship Conference 2019 extra special? 300 Practitioners, 25+ Collaborators, and a tireless crew, all of who came together to celebrate a first-of-its-kind Open Day for Global Citizenship, with inspiring Springboard Sessions, lively panel discussions, five hands-on workshops, ten companies at the Social Innovation Expo, an intercultural evening, and ample networking opportunity over lunch and dinner!
The Open Day for Global Citizenship held on the 25th of September, 2019, marked an exemplar shift in the sense of reaching out to a wider audience and rooting for all-inclusive participation from Global Citizens worldwide, with close to 300 practitioners, experts, and social innovation leaders coming together under one roof in Bangalore, India.
The day began with the Springboard Sessions, an interactive event designed to let the audience comprehend the stories of global changemakers and possibly emulate them in their own journeys of self-discovery and contribution to the society.
Ashish Srivastava from CSTEP, a Bangalore-based technology and policy think tank, wowed audiences with his ‘people first, technology last’ approach sought to reverse the paradigm adopted by policymakers when driving sustained social impact projects.
Vivek Srinivasan, our second Springboard Speaker, is the founder of the Startups Club. Initially conceived as an NGO, Vivek realized the intrinsic value of data and channeled it to turn Startups Club into a financially sustainable endeavor. Today, Startups Club is a leading platform for early stage startups in India and continues to guide enthusiastic startup founders along their impact journey.
The third speaker was Sandhya Sarah Jose from IDEX Accelerator. Connecting with the audience by narrating her own tale of confusion, exploration, and discovery of her career path, Sandhya talked about creating a new talent economy of ‘intrapreneurs’. She is a practicing intrapreneur herself, and a strategist and program manager.
Up next on the dais was Vladimir Fomene – a Senior Fellow of the Melton Foundation. A Global Citizen of many achievements, Vladimir is the co-founder of HealthStack and is currently researching in Centre Pasteur Cameroon. He has successfully developed an innovative approach to malaria diagnosis with the aid of Artificial Intelligence.
Kasha Sequoia Slavner, founder of The Global Sunrise Project (a media hub for inspired storytelling about the global community), spoke to the audience through a compelling video presentation. Kasha is a documentary filmmaker who uses her passion for visual storytelling to create media that inspires people to make positive change.
For more Springboard Sessions inspiration, watch a collection of 25+ stories of transformation on our YouTube channel here.
Panel Discussions on Sustainability, Technology, and Social Innovation
Six diverse personalities, each a distinguished figure in their own field, formed a fierce panel during the Open Day for Global Citizenship at the #IndiaGCC2019. Their accomplishments bound by the common thread of the desire to secure justice for civilians and strive towards creating an inclusive global community, made for an interesting and thought-provoking conversation. Here are some of the insights that our panelists discussed:
Tara Krishnaswamy, the co-founder of Citizens For Bengaluru, opined that “politics of our cities affect us, whether we like it or not.” Tara reminded us that citizens cannot have a passive role in a democracy and must always play a crucial role beyond electing their representatives.
Nalini Shekar, the co-founder of Hasiru Dala, showcased the important role of waste pickers in our cities, and the importance of waste management and human rights. She narrated how Hasiru Dala recognized the potential in recyclable waste and was able to generate employment opportunities for thousands.
Brinda Adige, a passionate women’s rights activist, author and the driving force behind Global Concerns India, reflected about the role of civil society. Criticizing the general public of complacency, she spoke about the troubles faced by the police department in the state of Karnataka and the resulting mistrust between them and the citizens.
Ashish Srivastava, head of the Digital and AI Lab at CSTEP, elaborated on the impact of technology on society as a whole. Ashish cautioned that “the wrong use of technology can lead to an unraveling of communities”. He also spoke about the current challenges created by social networking and capitalism.
Vivek Srinivasan, co-founder of Startups-Club, made it abundantly clear to us that “small algorithms go a long way in society”. According to him, AI as a utility is not inherently good or bad, but its effects are largely dependent on the usage. Used correctly, AI can be a harbinger of a stable economy and a sustainable future.
Social Innovation Expo
The Open Day for Global Citizenship, also convened eight prominent startups and companies from the Social Innovation and Sustainability sector. These companies showcased projects, products and interacted with GCC Participants during the Open Day Networking Hour.
Biomimic Theory, an organization whose aim is to ensure that customers are equipped enough to avoid plastic products and consume sustainable ones, showcased several products in line with their motto of sustainability, such as zero-waste wet bags, cutlery kits, etc. Hasiru Dala, a waste management services company, presented their two key innovations, namely environment sustainability methods and ensuring justice for the employee sector involved in waste management.
Dopolgy, another company that produces eco-friendly products for sustainable living, had interesting newspaper pencils, seed paper packs, and other similar green alternatives on display. Joining the Social Innovation Expo was the Akshaya Patra Foundation, a non-profit organization that provides free lunches to school children across India. They run a school lunch program for government-aided schools and aim to encourage schooling and education through this program.
Bridge47 – Building Global Citizenship, a project co-created and implemented by 15 European and global civil society organizations, was also in attendance at the Expo, advocating for global justice and eradication of poverty by mobilizing the global civil society. Another prominent citizen organization, Citizens For Bengaluru presented innovative solutions to problems faced by the city’s residents. By holding campaigns and mobilizing support, they seek to compel the public authorities to solve various civic issues.
Daily Dump compelled GCC audiences to opt for zero-waste living and responsible waste management, by composting of waste generated from households, offices, and other waste generators. The Green Innovation Centre, another sustainability endeavor, brings out innovations in the agricultural and food enterprise sector to help small scale farmers expand their business. Apart from coordinating Farmer Study Groups and developing apps, they showcased products and types of equipment to aid farming.
Following a dynamic networking hour over lunch, it was time to get active during Hands-On Workshops. Five different workshops opened doors for participants to engage with incredible social impact organizations around technology, sustainability and social innovation. In close association with the UN Sustainable Development Goals, the workshops followed an “interactivity” model and a “hands-on” approach. Here is what happened in a nutshell:
Using Data As a Tool for Monetization
Meaningful data collection and ways to successfully monetize data were the cornerstones of the workshop. The host, Vivek Srinivasan from Startups-Club, explained that any startup must first find a problem they wish to address. The next step would be to validate that problem by actually enquiring about the people affected by it. Then, the search for the solution begins.
Groups of participants had to pick an issue faced by society today and were asked to present their solution on that topic. Some of the ideas presented included an app to limit phone usage, a bicycle that can be used to generate electricity, customizable helmets to incentivize the youth and so on.
Influencing Policy for an Inclusive Society
“Policies must support and adapt to societal and technological changes, and this is where policy research comes into play.”
In this workshop, Shramana Dey and Gayathri Muraleedharan from CSTEP, a Bangalore-based policy and research think tank, introduced participants to the world of policy research, and how this comprehensive solution approach can be applied to positively impact society.
The workshop focused on the critical criteria to be considered for policymaking, including policy research, analysis, and design while emphasizing the power of technology, science, and policy in the context in which it is relevant to the issues our society faces today.
Honing Skills For Social Innovation
Hosted by Melton Fellows and Design Thinking practitioners Barbara Mora and Neli Blum, this workshop aimed to activate participants’ social innovation capacity and equipped them with applied knowledge about design thinking and project planning. Approaching complex problems from a broader perspective and understanding the value and importance of community engagement in order to develop technology solutions that meet the needs of the people on the ground, were some important learnings from the session. Attendees were given an exercise to devise a solution to a major problem of their choice. This exercise made participants realize that “(…) things on the global sphere affect the things on the local sphere as well and encouraged them to exercise their Global Citizenship knowledge to help develop novel solutions for pressing global issues.”
The Future of Work: Making a Living While Making a Difference
Countering the widespread belief that social impact careers mean low pay, self-sacrifice, and diminished social status, there has been a dramatic evolution of the social sector in recent years. This workshop, conducted by Diana Thomas & Melissa Hayes from the Amani Institute, demystified social impact careers by unearthing the many shapes, opportunities and forms that social impact can take. Participants explored future trends of work, identified their true calling to hone professional skills for social impact, and delved into arising opportunities to make a living while making a difference, at the pivotal intersection of technology and sustainability.
Applying Social Enterprise Models to Achieve the SDGs
Hosted by Bhavna Mathur, Executive Director of IDEX Accelerator, this workshop unpacked the What’s, How’s and Why’s of an emerging and effective phenomenon in the social, economic and cultural landscape: Social Enterprises. The workshop’s main focus was on giving the participants the skills to become social entrepreneurs by analyzing the different Social Enterprise models, keeping the Sustainable Development Goals as their final objective.
Catch all the action from the Workshops, the Social Innovation Expo and other exciting elements of the conference in this short compilation of our highlights!
After a day constituting numerous productive activities, the Intercultural Evening brought the curtains down on the Open Day for Global Citizenship. This evening celebrated intercultural melange and displayed the essence of the truly global spirited conference.
The Melton Fellows from Ashesi University in Ghana painted a picture of the current ways and methods through which Africans are actively engaged in the modern movement towards sustainable development.
The Melton Fellows from Jena, Germany pitched in on the Cultural Night with a play centered around sustainability! By portraying the student culture back in Jena, they communicated the importance of recycling, managing plastic and contributing to a sustainable environment to the gathering.
Melton Fellows from Temuco, Chile took us on a walk along heritage, music and dance by sharing a Mapuche poem about community and belonging, a Chilean song of gratitude for life and a dance performance to a cheerful piece of Cueca.
The Melton Fellows from Hangzhou, China presented a theatrical performance inspired by the famous Chinese novel, “Journey to the West”
The performances from the host in Bangalore, India took the audience through a soulful journey of the various forms of Indian classical music, and emotional mime based on a soldier’s dedication and sacrifices to his motherland, and a glimpse of the various Indian folk dance forms, which were particularly energetic and vibrant!
A Melton Fellow shares,
The cultural capsules and cultural presentations always feel valuable as they do not only represent part of the cultures we are sharing with, but they also represent what other Fellows want us to learn or enjoy about them. It feels like a gift: They are always prepared and organized with love and dedication, and being part of them or watching them, leaves me always feeling blessed.
Participants then enjoyed an Indian dinner with local delicacies, with time for them to unwind, socialize and look back on the day that was!