World's Top Social Innovators to Gather In Dublin

Firfty of the world’s top social innovators will gather in Dublin next month to help kick-start an ambitious plan to tackle key challenges facing Ireland

The idea behind Change Nation is to connect proven solutions with talent and finance to accelerate innovations in areas such as the environment, health, education, civic participation and economic development.

The three-day event – billed as a “social innovation platform” by its organisers – will involve more than 300 one-on-one meetings between social entrepreneurs, philanthropists, business and political leaders.

It is due to take place in Dublin between March 22nd and 24th and is hosted by Ashoka Ireland, in partnership with businesses, the Government and the media.

Speaking at the announcement of the initiative, Paul O’Hara, director of Ashoka and founder of Change Nation, said many of the solutions to Ireland’s problems already existed at home and across the world. The challenge, he said, was to identify these solutions and implement them.

“The solutions to be discovered at Change Nation have proven themselves to be effective, each one typically impacting on thousands of lives. Systematically importing and accelerating these proven solutions will increase our speed, efficiency and success rate in addressing these challenges,” he said.

The social innovators at next month’s event will pitch 50 solutions to help address a range of challenges. The organisers say they hope to have at least half of these ideas implemented in some form within 12 months. Mr O’Hara said the organisation was inviting everyone to discover these solutions at its website,

“We hope that people will get involved in the solutions they are passionate about, or choose to create their own. Ireland needs more change-makers and everyone has a role to play,” he said.

Among the social innovators due to take part in the three-day event include:

Matt Flannery of Kiva, an online platform which allows lenders and borrowers to meet and help bring finance to small and medium-sized businesses. The company has facilitated more than $280 million in loans since it was established in 2005.

Peter Eigen of Transparency International, who has helped lead a global coalition to challenge corruption in more than 90 countries. Ignace Schops, a Belgian environmentalist, who is helping to realise the untapped potential of neglected nature reserves by enhancing both their environmental and economic value. His citizen-led initiatives have led to the creation of dozens of businesses and hundreds of jobs in nature reserves across Belgium.

In a statement, Taoiseach Enda Kenny welcomed the Change Nation initiative.

“By working together, Ireland can not only emerge from its problems, but emerge stronger and better. Social innovation is especially valuable because it can create radical new alliances between communities, government and business to address fundamental social and economic challenges,” Mr Kenny said.

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(Source: Irish Times)