Reflections on the Social Innovation Summit 2018

SI Scholars Jaya Lal Neupane and Ha Do Thuy share their insights from the Social Innovation Summit in Malmö.

Reflections on the Social Innovation Summit 2018
Photo: Joeri van den Steenhoven and Jaya Lal Neupane (right)
Global crises and the role of social Innovation by Jaya Lal Neupane
The two-day conference started on November 13th with the theme 'Making It Big' in Malmö, gathering hundreds of students, educators, engineers, businessman, social entrepreneurs, government officials, and lawmakers. 
Everyone agreed that the refugee crisis, climate crisis, and poverty are some of the challenges faced by societies right now. It is impossible to tackle these issues without a clear picture and willingness to change on a societal level. Every keynote speaker agreed that people should act as transformative forces and drive change to solve complex global issues. 
Joeri van den Steenhoven, Director of MaRS Solution Lab, said that people have to be at the centre of our business when we prioritise innovation, as people with intense passion and clear understanding make innovation possible and drive change. He further said it is transparency, participation, and collaboration that helps build trust among people and thus, a platform for innovation is created. 
Photo: Panel discussion on 'How to build an arena for social innovation'
Prof. Robin Teigland, co-leader of the Peniche Ocean Watch Initiative (POW), expressed her belief that through networking and knowledge sharing social impact can be created. She said by integrating local knowledge, technology, innovation and entrepreneurship a considerable value can be created in the community. Thus, her key message was “build your network before you need it”. 
Jeroo Billimoria, the founder of Aflatoun, stated that social innovation has to be part of a global movement.  And social entrepreneurs have to dream big, but the dream has to be practical. It is necessary to validate its practicality by carrying out research personally. So, only 10% of enterprises succeed because they do research. Organisations flourish when they have a clear plan and empower employees.
Finally, I conclude saying that social innovations, when they tend to utilise the transformative capacity of people fully, can become keys to solve the world’s existing complex problems.  
Social innovation helps to solve social challenges in new ways by Ha Do Thuy
Photo: SI scholarship holders and NFGL network: Ha Do Thuy (left) and Elena Bogdanova
The summit opened in a very innovative manner with a Latin melody. I wondered why Latin music when Swedish music could have been played!
I quickly understood that the music performed by a Latin school band conveyed the freedom and inclusion required for social innovation. We all clapped and danced during the performance.
With this unusual start of a summit, one thing that stuck is that there are no boundaries, no age, and no limitations for us to innovate and engage with social innovations. It is not a single mission carried out by an individual but a joint effort. This was precisely the topic of the summit called “Making it big”. 
Indy Johar, founder of Zero Zero and Senior Innovation Associate at Young Foundation, emphasised that human rights and democracy are at the centre of a social transformation in his presentation on ‘From grassroots to system change’. 
Photo: Malmö Latinskolans storband
Sweden puts social inclusion and equality at the heart of development policy. The summit has opened my eyes to look further and deeper into the nature of these issues. Then this helps me reflect on what I have learnt from my personal life in Sweden. 
The summit has deepened my insights regarding what I came to study and so much more. The most significant insight I have to share from the summit is that ‘being innovative with social inclusion and equality in thinking and action like the Swedes already do, we can develop ourselves as change agents and leaders.'

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Lagom: The best way to achieve social health?

Ronoh Philip, who is studying for his masters degree in Infectious Disease Control at Södertörn University, explains why he thinks the Swedish concept of 'lagom' is the best way to achieve good social health.

Lagom: The best way to achieve social health?

During my one week orientation program on August 2019 at Södertörn University, we were presented with many aspects of Swedish culture and practices. One of the new aspects that I learnt was the “lagom culture”, As I quote one of the presenters about applying lagom to our studies, he said: ”Lagom will reduce your stressful burdens of hectic lecture schedules and ensure that you spend equal time of working and socializing in the university.”

So being a student with a background in public health and society, I got interested and searched for the deeper meaning of lagom, and how it can  apply to society and health. I found out that it is a Swedish way of life, it is a concept which means not too much and not too little, just enough. I learnt that it came from a Viking tradition laget om which means 'around the group' and was allegedly used to describe just how much mead or soup one should drink when passing the bowl around in the group.

If this concept is applied to achieve social health goals, it would really fit well. So, what is social health at first? Social health is how you interact with other people and adapt in different situations, it deals with how people in society deal with each other. It is important to note that there is a close link between good social health and improvement of the other aspects of human health, this can lead to the achievement of SDG goal of good health and wellbeing. It also leads to self-satisfaction and happiness; no wonder Sweden is ranked as one the happiest countries in the world. It is ranked 7th in 2019, according to world happiness report. I believe lagom has a big role in this achievement.

In the country where I come from, Kenya, one of the greatest challenges we face in our society, is the ability for people of different cultural and ethnic backgrounds to interact and form positive and cohesive relationships with each other. From my perspective, when I finish my studies and return, lagom will be worth implementing in the workplace, the place where I live and the society as whole, as it is the best way of finding simple, attainable solutions to our everyday worries like stress, eating better, having downtime and achieving happiness. It’s a balance of work and life, so everything is in sustainable existence with each other.

My goal during my entire university studies at Södertörn, will be to learn more about the lagom principle and also be able to apply it on our SI NFGL Local Network platform, because it is surely one of the best ways to achieve a good  work-life balance, reaching consensus with my colleagues and adapting a team minded approach in dealing with issues in an organization and the society.