15 JUNE 2012


The main topic was the newest trend in Communications and Public Information. The majority of participants were communications personalities with proven experience and extensive impact. One main purpose was to sharpen the focus on the potential of digital U.N. operations. The main conference room was at the U.N. compound, at the main floor of the temporarily used main offices.

However, the main U.N. Department of Communications and Public Information was totally absent.

Obviously, many of its dedicated, talented and hard-working staff would have loved to attend. At least some of those working on www.un.org would have found it useful and relevant. But none were in sight. To his credit, the head of U.N. Information Technology, Soon-Hong Choi, who is linked to another U.N. Department, was prominently present. Also prominently present almost everywhere in the gathering was Amir Dossal, who after retirement from the U.N. Fund was designated as Special Representative of the Secretary General, and has just launched his own Global Partnership venture. But no visibility from U.N./DPI.

Why? Could it be that between the appointment of a head of that Department, the person in charge, the inexperienced and unqualified Maher Nasser, who looks constantly terrified, is too scared to do anything he is not told specifically to do?

This Social Innovative Summit was held on 31 May at the U.N. North Lawn Building (the temporary premises). An impressive number of business, technology, and community leaders gathered to explore the launching of what they called: Foundation for a Digital U.N.

Speakers of the whole day meeting included: Adam Brotman, Chief Digital Officer - Starbucks; Alan Hassenfeld, Chairman of the Executive Committee - Hasbro; Alicia Keys, Multi-Platinum Grammy award-winning Musician, Actress & Philanthropist; Amir Dossal, Chairman - Global Partnerships Forum; Bill Gross, Chairman & CEO - Idealab; Craig Venter, Chairman & President - J. Craig Venter Institute; Desh Desphande, Chairman & Co-Founder - Sycamore Networks; Dov Seidman, Chairman & CEO - LRN; Ellen Lambert, Executive Director, Corporate Contributions - Merck; Howard W. Buffett, Executive Director - Howard G. Buffett Foundation; Hunter Walk, Head of Social Good Initiatives - YouTube; James Gowen, Chief Sustainability Officer - Verizon; Jean-Pierre Rosso, Chairman - World Economic Forum USA: Jeff Seabright, Chief Environmental Officer - Coca-Cola; Jeff Swartz, Former CEO & President - Timberland; Jeffrey Hollender, Co-Founder - Seventh Generation; John Abele, Founder - Boston Scientific Corporation; Jonathan Greenblatt, Head, Office of Social Innovation - White House; Kay Koplovitz, Chairman - Liz Claiborne; Laura Arrillaga-Andreessen, President - Marc and Laura Andreessen Foundation; Maura O'Neill, Chief Innovation Officer - U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID); Monica Lozano, Chief Executive Officer - impreMedia; Nicholas Negroponte, Chairman & Founder - One Laptop Per Child; Nick Beim, General Partner - Matrix Partners; Pat Mitchell, President & CEO - The Paley Center for Media; Peter Bloom, Chairman - DonorsChoose; Rebecca Lucore, Head of Corporate Social Responsibility - Bayer Corporation; Rhonda Mims, President - ING Foundation; Samir Sanbar, Executive Editor, www.unforum.com; Shannon Schuyler, Senior Managing Director, Corporate Responsibility - PwC; Soon-Hong Choi, Chief Information Technology Officer - United Nations; Steve Gleason, Former NFL Player; Founder - Team Gleason Foundation; Tiki Barber, NFL Former Pro Bowl Running Back & NBC Broadcaster; Timothy McClimon, President - American Express Foundation; Tom Shadyac, Director, Screenwriter, and Producer - "Ace Ventura," "Bruce Almighty," "I Am".

Among those attending the invitation-only gathering were senior representatives of prominent companies and foundations including: Abbott, American Express, AOL, Bain Capital, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Bristol-Myers Squibb, British Petroleum, CDW, Clinton Global Initiative, Cisco, Citi, Deutsche Telekom, Discovery Communications, eBay, ESPN, F5 Networks, Facebook, Ford Foundation, Gap, General Electric, Genzyme, Goldman Sachs, Google, Heineken, Hewlett-Packard, Howard G. Buffett Foundation, IBM, ING, Intel, J. Craig Venter Institute, J.P. Morgan Chase, Kaiser Permanente, MasterCard, Merck, McKesson, McKinsey, Memorial Sloan-Kettering, Microsoft, MTV Networks, National Geographic, NBC Universal, Nokia, NYU, ONE Campaign, Pfizer, PwC, Robin Hood, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Salesforce,com, Samsung, Siemens, Skoll Foundation, Sony, Starbucks, T-Mobile, Time Warner, United Nations Foundation, Verizon, Viacom, Virgin, VMware, Wall Street Journal, Wal-Mart, Walt Disney, Western Union, World Bank, YouTube.

If nothing else, the meeting was a unique opportunity to get a special group of influential communications, business, and civil society leaders to connect with one another and explore the vision that could influence a wider community. More to the point for the U.N., it was a welcome recognition of its potential role in an innovative, though complex, area of increasing impact on our everyday world.