09/24/2012 01:26 pm ET Updated Nov 24, 2012

Entrepreneurs and Innovators Changing Lives

Humans have an amazing capacity to innovate; we also have an amazing capacity to care about each other. When these capabilities come together, the results can be extraordinary.

Researchers witnessing human suffering -- soldiers dying of infection during World War I, children stricken with polio and other diseases -- have discovered life-saving vaccines and antibiotics. Agriculturists have seen hunger and starvation and worked to improve crop output.

In this era of cutting-edge technology and mass communication, we're seeing more and more examples of innovation for social good:

  • Solar lamps designed to light up hospital rooms in communities that lack reliable access to electricity;
  • Crowdsourcing technologies that help on-the-ground teams more effectively respond to humanitarian disasters;
  • Mobile phones that provide new and expectant mothers living in remote communities with health care information;
  • Online petitions to press powerful establishments for change; and so many others.
While there is a lot of great innovation happening, we have the capacity -- and the need -- for so much more. From poverty to disease to climate change, the world faces big and urgent problems. The good news is: Each of us has the power to make a difference. You don't have to be a government official or a development expert to bring about change; you just have to be fed with the status quo and willing to take action. Entrepreneurs, innovators and technologists have skills and ideas that can't be found anywhere else. That's why we need their engagement to help solve global challenges. We're not looking for these experts to stop doing what they love; we need them to apply their talents -- whether it's coding, materials research, app development or something else -- to the problems at hand. Many members of these communities are already on the front lines of social change, spearheading projects that are changing the game in development -- but we need all the brainpower we can get. This September, as world leaders gather in New York City to tackle some of the world's toughest issues at the United Nations General Assembly, the UN Foundation is co-hosting the Social Good Summit along with Mashable, the 92nd Street Y, Ericsson, UNDP, and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, to discuss how to unleash social media and technology to help solve global challenges.

The Social Good Summit brings together -- both online and in person -- activists, technology experts, entrepreneurs and world leaders to share ideas, make connections and push for progress on international development issues. The summit explores a range of topics, from how to use gaming technologies for change to how social media can help anti-poverty advocates get their message out. Participants are discussing the latest cutting-edge developments and learn about exciting new initiatives to tackle the world's toughest challenges.

This year's summit will also feature a landmark global conversation on today, September 24th. Over the course of a day, participants at connected summits in Beijing, Nairobi and New York, plus more than 200 meet-ups around the world, will discuss how technology can improve -- and is improving -- lives in local communities and around the world.

Finding global solutions will require global input. To deliver new solutions and usher in a brighter tomorrow, we need to tap into the ideas and capabilities of people across borders and across sectors. We hope you will join the conversation.