Role of New Media and Social Innovation in Development

Jan 24, 2015

Professor Wang Xiuli from Peking University addresses the Social Innovation Seminar

On 24th January, United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) China partnered with China Center for Comparative Politics and Economics (CCCPE) to host a Social Innovation Seminar on how new media can enable social innovation and empower civil society organisations (CSOs).

During the past decade, there has been a surge of interest in social innovation as a way to renew the social sector and respond to some of the greatest economic, environmental and social challenges. The seminar targeted 25 grassroots and community-based organisations that were listed for the 2014 Social Innovation Award Ceremony held the day before where four outstanding social innovation initiatives were awarded with the UNDP Special Recognition Award. 

The seminar provided substantive and practical takeaways for the award ceremony attendees, strengthening their knowledge on information and communication technologies for development (ICT4D), creating a learning space for them to have in-depth discussions with experts and building a platform for resource mobilisation and networking.

In particular, the participants had fruitful discussions with eight speakers from internet tycoons such as Tencent and Sina, tech-based social enterprises such as Yiyun Disaster Map, as well as academia and peer civil society organisations. The one-day event covered a substantial array of topics, ranging from website and APP designing, digital branding for organizations and online community building to interactive campaign organising and crowd-funding in the internet era.

As part of UNDP’s continuous efforts in promoting an active civil society and enhancing their capacity in China, Mr. Patrick Haverman, Deputy Country Director of UNDP China launched the UNDP-produced Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) on civil society organizations’ capacity building for initial enrollment.

Mr. Haverman expressed new media’s role in UNDP’s work. “Providing access to new resources and services and strengthening the capacity of civil society organisations is central to our approach. New media, especially the internet can be a great way to do this, as internet  connects stakeholders, mobilizes new resources and delivers services at lower cost.”

Professor Wang Xiuli agreed by stating that “one of the key words of internet philanthropy is connection. The internet connects different people, various networks of resources, supply and demand, offline and online.”

Impressed by the seminar, Dr. Ding Kaijie, Assistant Director of China Center for Comparative Politics and Economics (CCCPE), expressed that he is both, a co-organiser and a beneficiary of this learning. He believes that new media will bring immense attraction to social innovation and eventually make sustainable impacts in society.

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