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UNDP & Citi Foundation host 2nd Asia Pacific Youth Co:Lab Summit

Released at: 16:21, 04/04/2019 BUSINESS SPOTLIGHT

UNDP & Citi Foundation host 2nd Asia Pacific Youth Co:Lab Summit

Photo: Citi

April 4 summit a venue to exchange ideas, knowledge and experience to influence policy initiatives on youth entrepreneurship and social innovation.

by Doanh Doanh

The United Nations Development Program (UNDP) and Citi Foundation, with cooperation and support from the Ministry of Science and Technology and the Vietnam Volunteer Center, opened the second Asia Pacific Youth Co:Lab Summit in Hanoi on April 4.

The flagship event brought together over 500 delegates, including hundreds of young people, partners, and government officials from 20 countries, to exchange ideas, knowledge and experience to influence policy initiatives on youth entrepreneurship and social innovation.

“As I see the first generation of Youth Co:Lab social entrepreneurs flourish and carry their own initiatives forward, I am reminded of the reason why this work is so important: young people really do hold the key to social change,” said Ms. Valerie Cliff, UNDP Deputy Regional Director for Asia & the Pacific. “This is how we can align the grit and determination of young change makers to meet the ambitions of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Our mandate at Youth Co:Lab is to play the role of an integrator and strengthen the ecosystem connecting young people with governments and businesses to scale impact.”

“Youth Co:Lab’s approach of listening to the perspectives and ideas of young people and empowering them to drive business solutions that address our world’s most pressing issues is how real change happens,” added Ms. Brandee McHale, President of the Citi Foundation. “Only by joining forces with multiple actors from the public and private sector, social partners, civil society, and beyond can we work towards fulfilling the SDGs.”

“In the current context of global integration and development, startups and innovation play an important role in economic development, addressing global difficulties and challenges as well as achieving sustainable development in each country and all over the world,” Deputy Minister of Science and Technology Tran Van Tung said in his opening remarks. “The Youth Co:Lab Summit 2019 is a significant event for the innovative startup community and social impact enterprises in particular. It will enable an exchange of ideas and help further develop startups, through incubation, innovation, expanding connections, and international cooperation.”

According to the Asia Pacific Human Development Report 2016, more than half of all young people in the world today live in Asia-Pacific and 1.7 billion are under 25. Close to 71 million young people, aged 15 to 24, are unemployed worldwide, of which 33 million are in Asia-Pacific alone. Nearly 220 million young people are neither at school nor at work, presenting a daunting crisis that calls for an urgent response.

Co-created in 2017 by the UNDP and the Citi Foundation, Youth Co:Lab aims to empower and invest in youth so that they can accelerate the implementation of the SDGs through leadership, social innovation, and entrepreneurship.

Over the last two years, Youth Co:Lab projects have been implemented in 20 countries and territories across the region, with national dialogues, regional summits, and social innovation challenges reaching over 48,000 participants. The initiative has benefitted more than 2,500 young social entrepreneurs and helped launch or improve nearly 500 social enterprises.

Youth Co:Lab has also established partnerships with more than 100 key ecosystem players to strengthen the Youth Empowerment Alliance to support young entrepreneurs, particularly young women and marginalized youth, by connecting them with businesses, incubators, accelerators, and financing mechanisms to develop their ideas into viable business models for sustainable social impact.

The two-day summit brings together several keynote speakers, prominent social entrepreneurs, youth change makers, principal government officials, and leading ecosystem players. The summit will conclude with the Youth Co:Lab Regional Social Innovation Challenge, where 34 teams, pre-selected during national social innovation challenges held across 16 countries and territories, will pitch and showcase their social enterprises and ideas to a panel of esteemed judges.

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