top of page

Leveraging Social Media for Changemaking: Fulfilling the UN's 17 Sustainable Goals

Written by Sara McQuaid. Edited by Tvisha Shah Welcome back and thank you for joining us on the CCP blog! Today we want to explore the often overlooked positive side of social media and its connections to change making. Undoubtedly, social media is a communal giant with a permanent role in society.  In all likelihood, you probably came across this article through a social media prompt on the CCP Instagram, LinkedIn, Medium, Twitter, X, or Facebook account, (which by the way please give us a follow on our respective platforms, please!) When used as a tool for changemaking, social media can have a constructive impact in the fight for eradicating homelessness and achieving the United Nations 17 Sustainable Goals for an equal world. The 17 Sustainable Goals (UNSG) were developed in 2030 with the aim of creating a more sustainable and equitable future for all: “They recognize that ending poverty and other deprivations must go hand-in-hand with strategies that improve health and education, reduce inequality, and spur economic growth – all while tackling climate change and working to preserve our oceans and forests.” At CCP, we champion the power of positive discourse to promote changemaking conversations in our community and firmly believe the 17 goals possess transformative potential to shape a brighter future . With mindful and respectful usage, social media becomes a platform where change can thrive and stigmas can be dismantled. Let’s discuss eight ways we can use social media as a catalyst for change and fulfill the United Nations 17 Sustainable Goals!




1.As a powerful educational tool in understanding the challenges of poverty and homelessness: We can use education through social media to fulfill two UNSG goals: Goal One: No Poverty and Goal Four: Educate Children in your Community. It is easier than ever for research institutions or educational groups to share information based approaches on ending homelessness and poverty in society.  Social media is part of a practice experts call:  “knowledge management”, which has been defined as: “a discipline that promotes an integrated approach to identifying, capturing, evaluating, retrieving, and sharing all the enterprise's information assets including databases, documents and procedures.” We can share important facts and statistics about the challenges those experiencing poverty face and have information-led research help to dismantle stigmas surrounding those suffering from poverty.  Research has identified education as crucial in fighting poverty because it helps create social mobility and equip individuals with the tools they need to find better employment. 


2. To create and develop communities: Centuries ago, people used to gather around the communal fire at night to share stories, pass on legends, and traditions. Cultures flourished in these spaces and while we have upgraded our communal spaces over the last centuries, the desire for togetherness continues to flourish. Through social media, we can visually connect with others through photos, videos, and audio clips. The Harvard Study of Adult Development has shown after eighty years of research, that the more socially connected we are, the longer we live! For many individuals who struggle with physical or mental challenges, social media communities can serve as substitutes or physical communities they may lack the resources to access. This dedication to using social media for community building helps us to achieve Goal Three: Ensure Healthy Lives and promote well-being for all at all ages. 3. As preservative memory banks: Gone are the days when the past was lost inside rolls of undeveloped film rolls, ruined paper and lost disposable cameras. We can use social media to track progress in working towards the UNSG 17 Sustainable Goals.  As described by media technologists:  the web can constitute not only a place for communication, “as is self-evident, but also a place for remembering and for the narration of life experiences—which can be individual and collective, textual and visual—through which the work of memory becomes visible.” After a ten year study researchers Jungselius et al, found that social media played an important role in creating a sense of connectedness to time: through the sharing of memories or past moments on social media, we can reflect on ourselves in time and re-connect with others. Although it is crucial to be mindful of who we are today, we can use this connection to become a better change maker through self-reflection. 

 

4. Conversation starters: Through social media, we can encourage dialogue about the Sustainable Goals and why these goals are important benchmarks for a sustainable future for all. By harnessing social media’s different ways of engaging with each other, we can create strong spaces where positive discourse can flourish and we can work to end the stigma surrounding homelessness and poverty. For example, we can create spaces online that can turn into in-person meetings to discuss the on-going water crisis as highlighted in Goal 6: Clean Water and Sanitation for all. Did you know, in 2022, 2.2 billion people lacked safely managed drinking water and hand washing stations? These statistics are alarming, underscoring the critical need to emphasize the importance of ensuring universal access for every individual to basic needs.



5. Network and opportunity expansion:  Through social media, we can meet with other changemakers with fresh perspectives and work towards the 17 Sustainable Goals. There are endless job and volunteer boards across the world where you can find movements seeking changemakers. The Canadian Courage Project is always seeking new volunteers, but you can find other opportunities for changemaking that speak to you through sites such as the Ontario Nonprofit Network website or VolunteerMatch.org.

6. Industry Updates: Social media is not only great for preserving memories, but a great way to stay connected to changes inside the industries or movements we care about most. A recent Dutch study saw that the use of sites like LinkedIn helped professionals stay connected in their industries and in fact recognized changes six months sooner than others not using LinkedIn in the industry. Goal Ten: Reduced Inequalities can be tackled by staying informed about the  changes taking place in various industries. By taking a proactive approach to staying connected with organizations such as the United Nations or UNESCO that work to eradicate poverty, we can harness the power of change quicker than ever. 




7. Enhance student connection to their studies: Although social media is often used as a distraction from studies, when used in a positive manner, it can be used as a tool for empowerment inside the classroom.. Not only can social media become a tool of education, but studies showed social media gave students a positive place to discuss homework and helped students feel more connected to their work. When students feel stronger connections to the material they are learning, they can gain a deeper appreciation for their learning and experience a heightened sense of empowerment. This helps to achieve Goal Four: A Quality Education, where not only students are receiving education but one that is enriching with a long lasting impact. 8. Support small businesses: Social media helps to make our spending mindful and impactful. We can learn about who we are shopping from, rather than going into a box store and feeling disconnected from the creator and the supply chain. We can find organizations such as The Sustainable Review or EarthJustice that help us to understand the connection between what we buy and the environment. By shopping sensibly, we can work towards United Nations Goal Twelve: Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns. 



Ending thoughts In conclusion, at CCP, we want to harness the dynamic and ever changing power of social media in alignment with the 17 Sustainable Goals to create an equal world for all. Through our partnerships with programs such as Jack.org and Bluedoor to work towards multiple Goals such as Goal One: No poverty, Goal Two: Zero Hunger, Goal Three: Good Health and Wellbeing, Goal Four: Quality Education and Goal Eight: Decent work and economic growth. We believe in the power of promoting youth to live their most mindful and sustainable lives as the future changemakers in society. Social media is a powerful tool in connecting our changemakers to each other and further developing their skills they have harnessed in our workshops. By participating in mindful conversations, we can end the stigma surrounding poverty and homelessness through informed discussions. By leveraging the tools provided by social media, we have the opportunity to educate ourselves on how to allocate our time and money to the causes that mean the most to us. Through the advocacy efforts of organizations promoted through social media, we can gain effective insights in how to eradicate homelessness and positivity. By harnessing the communal aspects of social media, we can work towards achieving these goals by 2030 and creating a more equitable world for all. To learn more about the 17 goals, you can visit the United Nations here.



Works Cited Faizi, R.F., El Afia, A. and Chiheb, R. (2013) (PDF) exploring the potential benefits of using social media in ..., Research Gate . Available at: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/272998596_Exploring_the_Potential_Benefits_of_Using_Social_Media_in_Education (Accessed: 02 April 2024). 

Gazettemikepetroff (2024b) Over nearly 80 years, Harvard study has been showing how to live a healthy and happy life, Harvard Gazette. Available at: https://news.harvard.edu/gazette/story/2017/04/over-nearly-80-years-harvard-study-has-been-showing-how-to-live-a-healthy-and-happy-life/ (Accessed: 02 April 2024). 

How does education affect poverty? it can help end it. (no date) It can help end it. Available at: https://concernusa.org/news/how-does-education-affect-poverty/#:~:text=In%20fact%2C%20according%20to%20UNESCO,rate%20by%20more%20than%20half. (Accessed: 02 April 2024). 

Jungselius, B., & Weilenmann, A. (2023). Keeping Memories Alive: A Decennial Study of Social Media Reminiscing, Memories, and Nostalgia. Social Media + Society, 9(4). https://doi.org/10.1177/20563051231207850 Kay, S., Mulcahy, R., & Parkinson, J. (2020). When less is more: the impact of macro and micro social media influencers’ disclosure. Journal of Marketing Management, 36(3–4), 248–278. https://doi.org/10.1080/0267257X.2020.1718740 Nisar, T.M., Prabhakar, G. and Strakova, L. (2019) ‘Social media information benefits, knowledge management and Smart Organizations’, Journal of Business Research, 94, pp. 264–272. doi:10.1016/j.jbusres.2018.05.005. 

Utz, S., & Breuer, J. (2016). Informational benefits from social media use for professional purposes: Results from a longitudinal study. Cyberpsychology: Journal of Psychosocial Research on Cyberspace, 10(4), Article 3. https://doi.org/10.5817/CP2016-4-3


13 views0 comments

Comments


bottom of page