Innovating at the Global People's Summit

09/20/2017 09:15 am ET

The United Nations is on a trajectory to inaccessibility. Tucked away in urban conference rooms, negotiations over the world’s most pressing issues are kept far from the people most affected by them. While branches of the UN work closely with situations on the ground, its sprawling bureaucracy risks becoming out of touch with the everyday lives of the global community.

This manifests itself in high-profile, influential events. The United Nations World Humanitarian Summit convened in Istanbul last May to strategize around crises and disaster relief. While primarily focusing on the UN’s immediate aid for displaced persons, there were substantial barriers for refugees to attend the conference. Regulatory obstacles--immigration status, funding for travel, inability to leave work--can ultimately decide who gets in the door. Hazami Barmada, the event’s lead Strategist, couldn’t bring two critical team members to Turkey because of their refugee status. Although heads of state, NGO leaders, and UN officials gathered under glossy logos and on huge stages, the conference was far more accessible to some than others.

Barmada knew it was time to change this deeply ironic model of decision-making. Along with a cohort of UN campaigns, the Barmada Group is working to put on the first Global People’s Summit, the first-ever completely online summit to take place parallel to the United Nations General Assembly. Anyone can log onto discuss the world’s most pressing issues as it affects their communities, or tune into training sessions on how to ignite social change. It's a huge step in the UN’s mission to innovate itself, and regain relevancy the world needs at this moment in history.

In the words of Hamilton, it’s time to put people of the global community in the room where it happens. The Global People’s Summit will be featured in an interactive display at the concurrent UN General Assembly, and curated to inform future decisions. Anticipating the reach of 50 million people in more than 160 countries, it could be the beginning of a new era in global civic engagement. “The summit aims to take conversations out of exclusive conference rooms and put them in the public sphere,” Barmada said. “Transforming the world is only possible if we begin to more effectively engage global networks and unlock capacity for action.”

Learn more about participating in the Global People’s Summit: www.globalpeoplesummit.org

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