Why innovation is essential for a better world (and how you can be part of the movement)

Christian Stenta will speak about social impact at GIF15

Social innovator Christian Stenta is one of 40 brilliant speakers appearing at the Global Ideas Forum later this month. Christian believes that disruptive social initiatives are the only way to create genuine impact in a world that is constantly evolving.

The desire to create meaningful social impact is not uncommon. The world is filled with talented people yearning to make a positive difference in the world.

Of course, a thirst to do good is not always enough. Even the most passionate people need the right tools and networks to achieve their goals.

“If you want to make a real difference, it’s imperative that you find like-minded people with divergent skillsets to collaborate with,” says Christian. “This kind of networking – being exposed to different perspectives and discipline – paves the way for us to create real social impact.”

What does social impact mean?

True social impact requires us to recognise the difference we can make when our collective efforts are combined.

“No matter what industry you belong to, or what kind of work you do – tech, design, finance, admin, health, journalism – we all have a unique opportunity to change the world around us,” Christian points out.

“Leaving a legacy for the world – for the sake of ourselves, our children, and future generations – means we must consider the ways we can make a difference with every single imprint we make in our lives. Our day to day interactions, our work lives, where we spend our money, and what we invest time in… they are all ways in which we can create social impact.

“It’s not about making a big profit or commercialisation. Our measure of success focuses on an improvement in quality of life, relationships, and environments.”

True social impact demands innovation

Thanks to factors such as technology and globalisation, our world is constantly evolving. It follows that the global health problems we face – both as individuals and communities – are changing too.

For this reason, innovation is essential. “It means constantly thinking about how we operate. It means new approaches, being prepared to respond to an evolving context, and trying to find creative solutions. This is the only way we can achieve better, healthier, happier lives,” explains Christian.

“What’s more, it’s critical that we think on a global scale at all times. This way we can share what we come up with across communities across the world.

“Today we are global citizens. There are less geographical boundaries. Travel is becoming consistently easier. We have access to real time communication. All of this gives us a chance to break down barriers, think about new approaches and work collaboratively.”

innovative thinking requires us to venture off conventional paths

“In the work we do we’re all constantly busy and focused,” says Christian. “Our heads are down, we’re chasing very particular goals and working long hours. While this is often necessary, it also means we don’t get a chance to take stock and think outside the box.”

The Global Ideas Forum is a chance to break that routine. It’s an opportunity to get insight into what other health innovators are doing, challenge traditional ways of thinking, get inspired, and inspire others in turn.

“This isn’t a bunch of people who all think the same way,” Christian emphasises. “We can address the big, sticky health issues we’re facing. We’ve got policymakers, entrepreneurs, designers – all sorts of people who think fundamentally differently – together. It’s a rare chance to work on solutions that will have a real impact on the global health issues we sorely need to address.”

So which health issues desperately require attention?

Obviously it’s difficult – if not outright impossible – to pinpoint which health issues need to be looked at first and foremost. And Christian’s work is concerned with numerous health problems across the world, including tobacco control, healthy eating, mental wellbeing and alcohol culture change. He particularly wants to highlight non-communicable diseases, such as obesity, due to the inequitable way in which they affect the community.

“When we look at innovation across whole populations such as Victoria and Australia, it’s vital we also consider health inequity, so that our efforts can reach those impacted the most,” Christian explains.

The notion of health equity is paramount to Christian’s work with VicHealth. It prescribes that everyone has the right to achieve their full health potential. For this to happen, we must overcome all health barriers which are socially constructed, unequal and avoidable.

Be inspired by Christian at Global Ideas Forum 2015

Like many forum-goers, Christian is a relative newcomer to the world of global health. His background is in people, entrepreneurship and innovation – so if you’re in a similar position, make sure to catch him.

Christian will focus on the notion of transformative innovations by:

  • sharing how he’s trialled a whole bunch of new approaches in public health
  • showcasing some of the stuff he’s been learning and doing at VicHealth over the past 18 months
  • sharing insights from his journey – including the valuable lessons he’s learned, what he would do differently, and which exciting initiatives are coming next.


Christian is one of 40 experts speaking at the Global Ideas Forum from 23–25 October. There’s still a couple of days left to get tickets – so for more information, or to register, head to the Global Ideas Forum page.


lucy godwin, communications manager