Social Good Summit in Beirut 2013
Social Good Summit 2013 held for the past three years is the place where global leaders, NGO representatives, journalists, bloggers, activists, representatives of political parties and a large number of youngsters, meet to discuss big ideas and find solutions for our greatest challenges.
UNDP Lebanon participated in the global conversation through organizing a meet up group: 70 participants from different cultural and educational background met in Alt City Café in Hamra, on 24 September 2013, to discuss what innovations should we focus on to pave the way to a better future for 2030 and beyond.
The topics were decided based on current events happening in Lebanon where citizens are witnessing a sharply rising influx of Syrian refugees along the northern and eastern borders representing a major and increasing burden on host communities, competing for already limited social services, employment and other economic opportunities. Also strengthening civil peace initiatives was another factor that contributed in selecting the main topics for the debate.
UNDP Country Director Luca Renda welcomed the participants and explained the aim of this discussion and highlighted that Lebanon has the highest number of confirmed participation (more than 120 participants) he ended his speech by thanking Alt City Café and encouraging the listeners to work together on erasing all signs of apathy and demand change.
The debate of the first topic which was presented Dr. Itani, Social Media professor at LAU Founder and CEO of Think Media LABS, focused on how to create advocacy groups or pressure groups to promote a cause on social media. He started by displaying a brief video on the Social Good Summit and what are the main expectations. He mentioned that “there are Key ingredients for success”, he urged the listeners to take actions in the community and being consistent, clear, specific and reliable about the action they want to take. He also stressed on “content analysis to turn likes into actions”: to observe what content users are engaging with on your social media and act accordingly.
The second topic focused on Social media as a crossroad between media and the conflicts arousing of the misuse of social media. Mr. Khodor Salameh, Activist Blogger, pointed that politics and religion interfere on daily basis in the work of the media in Lebanon and wondered whether the media works according to financial interests or does it look for a way to promote and enhance the public opinion? He indicated that the misuse of social media is interfering with the peace building process and creating violence and discrimination against persons on the basis of religious and political parties. He ended his speech by displaying a video on means to verify the authenticity of the photos and videos published online.
Regarding political interference with social media participants expressed their views on the importance of having a political party active on the social media as a way to create interaction with people.
The third topic discussed by Patricia Khodor, senior reporter at L’Orient Le Jour, exposed how host communities and Syrian refugees in Lebanon are not able to make their voices heard throughout social media. Ms. Khodor opened the discussion by displaying a video on Lebanese hosting communities in Lebanon. She pointed out that the refugees represent a major and increasing burden on host communities, competing for already limited social services, employment and other economic opportunities. She also indicated that many people are unable to have access to social media in order to make their voices heard.
The closing discussions and recommendations were the following:
· On a short term basis:
Ø Setting a Strategy or a guideline to organize the relationship between the Lebanese citizens and the Syrian Refugees
Ø Organizing training sessions for municipalities on how to effectively communicate and deal with surrounding areas and local communities where the bulk of Syrian refugees reside
Ø Doing workshops on means to verify the authenticity of all photos and videos published online to all journalists
Ø Regarding the Syrian Refugees: Initiatives on coordinating where the money should go by creating a financial unit in the government on how to channel the money towards primary needs.
Ø Security control on social media should be banned by law as social media is the only open space for discussions
Ø Work on a peaceful binding between the two communities to erase racism through the increase of awareness and understanding through media campaigns focusing on the public at large.
Ø To set public consultation meetings between donors and governments through the NGOs
· On a Long term basis:
Ø Hoping that by 2030 we become a secular state : reduction of relations between the government and the religion of the state, to replace laws based on the book (such as the Ten Commandments and the law) with civil laws, and the elimination of discrimination based on religion.
Ø Using the social media to support the empowerment of women.