Social innovators vow action at Change Nation event


A THREE-DAY meeting of 50 of world’s top social innovators in Dublin has yielded hundreds of commitments to help establish projects to tackle key challenges facing the country.

The Change Nation event, billed as a “social innovation platform”, involved connecting social entrepreneurs with philanthropists, business and political leaders through hundreds of one-on-one meetings in Dublin Castle and Farmleigh.

The idea is to adopt proven solutions to problems in areas such as environment, education, civic participation or health and to expand them in Ireland.

At the conclusion of the event in Farmleigh on Saturday, the Change Nation team had logged some 225 commitments to help develop key solutions over the coming months. Among them were pledges to:

Join and develop a “parliament watch” website - set up in Germany in recent years - to allow citizens communicate with and scrutinise their political representatives;

The Health Service Executive will establish“Project Echo”, originally set up in New Mexico in the US, which uses technology to safely treat chronic diseases in rural and isolated areas;

Minister for Children Frances Fitzgerald has invited the head of Roots of Empathy – an initiative in Canada which promotes empathy among schoolchildren – to contribute to Ireland’s early years education strategy;

Offers to provide a premises for the “My Mind” group in Cork, which is an affordable, self-referral model of mental healthcare that has been operating successful in Dublin.

Paul O’Hara, founder of Change Nation and director of Ashoka, a group which promotes social entrepreneurship, said the commitments of support were just the beginning of the process.

“We’d like to see 25 of these ideas started up within 12 months. Some of them are already up and running – in that case, we want to accelerate their growth,” he said.

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