The Department of Community Development, DCD, has organised the first virtual session of the “Social Innovation Talks” series, which are being held under the theme, "Real Issues... Real Impact". The DCD aims to make “SI Talks” the region's platform for discussions on social innovation with the objective of finding innovative solutions to various social issues while raising and promoting awareness of the importance of social innovation in the lives of community members.
The first session, hosted under the title, "The Importance of Social Innovation", saw the attendance of more than 1,700 participants representing various entities from local and private sectors, in the presence of H.E. Dr. Mugheer Khamis Al Khaili, Chairman of the DCD and officials from the social sector in Abu Dhabi. “The Importance of Social Innovation" was presented by the renowned speaker, Norbert Kunz, CEO of Social Impact and one of Europe’s most distinguished social entrepreneurs, where he discussed the importance of social innovation, the need to develop it and identify its social impacts on key issues, and the mechanisms for measuring them.
During his opening keynote speech, H.E. Dr. Mugheer Khamis Al Khaili said: “There are undoubtedly obstacles that impede social innovation efforts in the MENA region, the most important of which are the lack of support, funding and skilled human capital as well as the current regulatory frameworks. That is why we recognize the necessity for us to have a foothold in social innovation by organizing a series of talks with the aim of achieving sustainability across society and contributing to addressing various social challenges and issues.”
Al Khaili added: “Our wise leadership is playing a leading and important role by encouraging and supporting social innovation efforts across the UAE, through its directives and visions of adopting the latest technologies and innovations, especially as innovation is considered one of the key pillars for community development. The Emirate of Abu Dhabi continues to be a pioneer in the social innovation field, which comes out of its strategic role to enhance and develop the community.”
Al Khaili pointed out that the DCD, in line with its strategic vision, also seeks to enhance a culture of innovation by employing social innovation to improve the quality of services in the social sector and establish an integrated and cohesive society in the Abu Dhabi Emirate. This is evident in the establishment of the “Monitoring and Innovation Sector”, which aims to address social phenomena via various mechanisms and methods that contribute to creating a more integrated and equal society.
During the virtual “SI Talks”, Norbert Kunz, CEO of Social Impact spoke at length of his contributions to several successful projects and also discussed the various implications of business innovations as compared to social innovations, looking at the consequences of the differences between the two and how innovations arise from necessity. A main feature of his talk covered how social entrepreneurs are people who develop and implement innovative and effective approaches to solving pressing social problems. They are, he said, characterized by their entrepreneurial spirit, creativity, willingness to take risks, and persistence on the path to changing society for the better.
Dr. Layla Al Hyas, Acting Executive Director of the DCD’s Monitoring and Innovation Sector, said: “The DCD works to enhance the economic and social growth of society to build a cohesive and interconnected society, and aims through the organization of ‘SI Talks’ to raise awareness of the importance of social innovation to social issues and find innovative solutions to them.”
Al Hyas added: “The organization of ‘SI Talks’ comes in line with the UAE’s main goal of becoming a leader in the field of social innovation by attracting the world’s pioneers in social innovation and introducing new methods and way of thinking by enabling participants to think of a different approach to solving challenges facing society.”
At the end of the session, Norbert took part in a moderated Q&A session about the need for the development of social innovation and how Abu Dhabi will benefit from creating a society that positively empowers people to thrive and achieve their full potential.
“Social Innovation Talks”, the region's premier platform for discussions on Social Innovation, aim to address social challenges that are difficult to solve by traditional methods in order to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of the social sector, and during the sessions, the DCD will host a selection of thought leaders and innovators to discuss a range of important social topics and issues. “SI Talks” aim to come up with sustainable ideas for the next stage that contribute to enhancing the quality of life for all members of society by highlighting important social issues, in addition to strengthening the third and private sector framework as well as social enterprises that will contribute to finding innovative solutions to meet the social challenges in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi.