No longer business as usual

2014The 2014 Social Good Summit brings together a diverse and rich array of speakers and participants, bearing testimony to the depth and breadth of skills and talents the world has. But the Social Good Summit is not happening in a vacuum; the Ebola crisis in West Africa, the conflicts in the Middle East and Climate Change all form an obtrusive background to the Summit. These challenges are familiar and have been around for a long time and it is time the challenges confronting the world today be viewed as multi-disciplinary in nature. For example the Ebola epidemic is not only a public health challenge, but a governance issue as it betrays weak governance structures in the affected countries; it is also a regional trade issue affecting businesses, as morbidity and mortality affect the labor force while closing borders and affecting supply chains; it is also a sociological issue as cultural practices fuel the spread of the disease. In view of this the world needs to adopt a multi-disciplinary approach to development, requiring many disciplines and many parties to work together in a coordinated way.

Development literature is replete with the terms ‘multi-disciplinary’, ‘multi-dimensional’ and ‘multi sectoral’, but efforts to translate these into action have not been as prolific. As the world pauses to reflect on the Millennium Development Goals and shape the Sustainable Development Goals it can no longer be business as usual. Every issue needs to be viewed and addressed from many perspectives. Gone are the days when development work was left to governments, nonprofits, philanthropists and charities. Businesses need to be engaged beyond traditional Corporate Social Responsibility; religious institutions’ extensive influence cannot go unnoticed; technology and digital media have a lot of untapped potential; development projects must become more entrepreneurial and innovative in nature, and real time disaggregated data should become more available. As the world transitions from the millennium development goals to sustainable development goals, it is critical that everyone embraces both the letter and the spirit of multi-disciplinary approaches and make these a practical reality. It is time to find unlikely allies, and court nontraditional sources of support. The costs of not doing things differently are too enormous to afford, but with the resources in the world today, a better world by 2030 is well within our reach. #2030NOW #atlascorps