As global leaders met to discuss the future of sustainable development at Rio Plus 20, digital media leaders held their own conference to establish the role of technology in various global sectors. On June 19, the United Nations Foundation, Mashable, and others hosted Rio Plus Social, which emphasized the potential power of social media and technology to improve larger issues like sustainability, education, and the global economy. Discussions included how investments in new media will leverage positive solutions on a much broader scale and to establish the role of technology moving forward.

Rio+Social partners held the event nearby to the Rio+20 conference to emphasize how digital media can connect communities on a local and global level.

Community connectivity programs using tech initiatives are already in motion. One program called Amazon Connection provides mobile broadband to people in remote communities so residents can become more economically independent. Founders say this has facilitated communication, prompted business growth, and improved access to basic services such as healthcare and education on a local level. Since the project’s first phase in 2009, Amazon Connection has linked 50 communities via mobile devices in both urban and rural areas.

Connect to Learn offers low cost broadband and netbooks to schools across Africa and Latin America. The service is cloud based so virus protection, software updates, and maintenance are easily managed.

Kirsten Taggart, IDG News Service.