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Israeli Innovators at the UN Present Social Sustainability Initiatives

The Start-up Nation is not all about tech. Although Israel’s ‘Silicone Wadi’ is best known for its hi-tech innovations and billion-dollar acquisitions, the tiny ecosystem in the Middle East has so much more to offer the world. This week, six business and social organizations representing Israel at the United Nations will share innovative solutions that aim to advance environmental and social sustainability. This is part of the UN’s High-Level Political Forum convened to review the progress of its global 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

In the context of sustainable development, social sustainability is a lesser-known but vitally important issue facing all growing economies, which requires a whole new style of innovation that places individuals, families and communities at the center.

Sustainability, and social sustainability in particular, is underpinned by social responsibility and a conscientious concern for future generations – development and growth that leave no one behind. The best way to attain it is through capacity building: providing tools and reinforcing social structures with the clear aim of nurturing equal opportunities for the individual and facilitating community resilience.

To narrows gaps and advance social mobility in a sustainable way, we cannot rely on well-intentioned but short-lived interventions. Social sustainability is about well-conceived smart solutions with measurable, tangible and life-changing outcomes. It is about pooling resources, managing knowledge and supporting critical decisions with reliable real-time data.

As the CEO of the Rashi Foundation, which has been working for 35 years to reduce inequalities in Israel and promote social mobility, I am proud that we are among the organizations invited to present their solutions for sustainable social development at the United Nations.

The two initiatives the Rashi Foundation will present at the UN are both based upon a capacity-building model, tried and tested in Israel and ready to be duplicated in other countries to promote social sustainability. “City at the Center” helps to develop cities’ capacity to provide opportunities and drive social mobility for residents, fostering empowerment of local leadership and inclusion of the entire community and all stakeholders in the process. The second, “Social IT Systems”, harnesses technology to facilitate effective delivery of nationwide social services by developing a platform to monitor large-scale personal and community interventions, analyze the data and gain insights as the basis for decision-making.

Social initiatives must no longer ignore sustainability in their strategies. Social sustainability must be at the heart of any serious effort to tackle social gaps, poverty and inequalities and make a real, lasting and meaningful change.

About the Author
Michal Cohen is the CEO of the Rashi Foundation, and the former general director of the Education Ministry.
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