Ahead of UN Assembly, Global Leaders Convene to Promote Social Change

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It’s UN Week in New York City, as global leaders descend to discuss challenges facing the world population. But before the members of the United Nations sit, several other initiatives and events are poised to take advantage of the influx of global leadership. 

Running through Thursday, Mashable’s Social Good Summit brings together a broad group of societal and business leaders to tackle social problems with technology, including Richard Branson, co-founder of Warby Parker Neil Blumenthal, the CEO of Water For People, executives from Johnson & Johnson and dozens more. 

Former Vice President Al Gore, a featured speaker at the event, announced the launch of his latest environmental initiative, “What I Love,” at the event. 

The experiential site asks visitors what they love to do, eat, wear and more, and then serves up a “personalized canvas of the immediate effect of carbon pollution on what they love, be it chocolate, beer, skiing, or shoes.” The site utilizes a partnership with the Climate Reality Project, an NGO that provides the scientific data behind the questionnaire results.[more]

“‘What I Love’ is a true testament to the power of creative collaboration,” Larry Olson, Creative Director at Climate Reality Project, said in a statement. “Our mission is to make climate change real and immediate for people; to create emotional connections with people that are powerful and personal enough to spur them to take action.”

The mash-up of technology, imagery and personalization hopes to bring consumers closer to Gore’s broad environmental cause—one that is echoed throughout several other global events taking place this week, including the Clinton Global Initiative.

The annual CGI event, which brings together global political figures and business leaders, focuses on initiatives that will bring about social change, with this year’s theme, “Mobilizing For Impact,” meant to push leaders beyond idea creation and into creating long-term strategies for success. The four-day long event kicks off with the award of the Hult Prize, the largest student competition that awards $1 million in seed funding to the “sole startup idea that best secures food for undernourished communities — particularly for the 200 million people who live in urban slums,” according to Entrepreneur. The competition differs slightly from previous years, as the groups of enterprising students have already tested their programs in developing countries. This year, the competition will also bypass filtering the prize money through an NGO, instead delivering it directly to the winning startup group—which must already be incorporated as a company—so that they can implement their plan. 

The event wouldn’t be complete without the Global Citizens awards, which recognize individuals and businesses across many different sectors for their contributions to society. This year, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg will receive the “Leadership in Public Service” award, while 16-year-old Pakistani schoolgirl Malala Yousafzai, who was shot in the head by the Taliban while trying to pursue an education, will receive the “Leadership in Civil Society” award for her continuing efforts through her nonprofit Malala Fund, and another New Yorker, Jessamyn Rodriguez, who owns and runs Hot Bread Kitchen, which trains low-income men and women how to bake and sells their products to major grocers, will receive the “Leadership in the Private Sector” award. 

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