Interview with Helen Clark, UNDP Administrator and Former New Zealand Prime Minister

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Written by Monica Gray, Video Correspondent

United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Administrator and former New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clark shares her experience using social media to spur positive social change worldwide.

Interview conducted by Diplomatic Courier Video Correspondent Monica Gray at the Social Good Summit in New York City. The Social Good Summit, sponsored by the United Nations Foundation and Mashable, is held every September at the start of UN week.


[Diplomatic Courier:] How is UNDP leveraging social media to tackle big policy issues around the world?

[Helen Clark:] We find Twitter tremendous for outreach, for spreading ideas, obviously for saying what our own work is as part of finding solutions to big development challenges. We get tremendous feedback. We’re encouraging all our country officers to get their Twitter accounts active—get the photos up, get the stories up. Development is about stories. It’s about stories of achievement, of progress, of people’s lives being better than they were. People really want to hear about this. They don’t want to hear about all the failures—they want to hear about what difference are you making.

[DC:] How do you translate social media activity into action on the ground?

[HC:] I think that development is about a lot more than just the money that you invest in it. I think it’s about inspiring people to take action themselves. It needs leadership at the national level, but it needs leadership at the community level as well. A little money can go a long way if it’s backed by people who really want to make a difference and change things.

[DC:] How can young people use social media to have a positive impact?

[HC:] Tell people what’s happening. Share news about the various movements that are actively working on the ground for change. I always follow the Girl Effect. Every day the Girl Effect will have a story about what it’s like to be a girl forced who’s forced an early marriage or taken out of school or never got the chance to go into school. The empathy that this generates to support people trying to make a difference on all these issues is extraordinary.

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