Unlocking the Power of Youth for Sustainable Development

September 28, 2021

The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the All-China Youth Federation co-hosted the 2021 Asia-Pacific Forum on Youth Leadership, Innovation and Entrepreneurship virtually on the 28th of September.

The Forum brought together around 140 participants from 12 countries and territories in the Asia-Pacific region, collectively sharing stories and good practices on youth contributions to Rural Revitalization, Climate Change and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

“Multilateralism partnerships led by young people across countries can enable a stronger solutions-oriented approach in solving collective issues and highlight the important contributions that young innovators and entrepreneurs are creating to solve sustainable development areas around the world” said by Ms. Jayathma Wickramanayake, the United Nations Secretary-General’s Envoy on Youth.

During the online forum, 10 youth representatives from the region shared their inspiring stories and solutions and explored what role young people play in advancing sustainable development.

Orcauboat from China is committed to providing solutions for intelligent maintenance and management of urban waters. Mr. Zhu Jiannan, the CEO of Orcauboar, said: “My idea came from a trip to Xitang, Hangzhou, where the river of the old town sometimes was covered with floating garbage. Cleaners had to pick out the trash every day. This is not only happening in China, when I attended a Marine Conference in the US, I saw garbage and plastic waste polluting the river as well.”

Over the past 3 years, Orcauboat has built three standardized products for river protection. Supported by water-based autonomous recognition and auto-charging unmanned technologies, their autonomous robotic operation is more efficient and reduces costs by 60%.

Avijatrik from Bangladesh is an online community-based traveling platform empowering underdeveloped local communities through tourism. They work with local people to promote ‘community-based tourism’ to provide travelers with an authentic and meaningful experience and contribute to the preservation of culture and nature while bringing economic opportunities for decent and sustainable livelihoods to local communities.

In addition to the Youth Innovation and entrepreneurship story sharing, 4 speakers from the region shared their thoughts on how to unlock the power of young people for sustainable development.

Ms. Shaan Suhas Kumar, Miss Earth India 2017 and the programme manager for leadership development at Wedu said “Women played an important role in achieving SDGs, we need to fully utilize their potential and make sure the gender equality”.

Beniam Gebrezghi, Programme Specialist on Civil Society and Youth, UNDP Bangkok Regional Hub, stated during his opening remarks, “Youth are central to realizing the Sustainable Development Goals and addressing the challenges that our world faces today.” He also conveyed 3 messages to the regional youth, “firstly, dream big; secondly, step up and take responsibility; and lastly, get creative and be innovative.”

Over the past 3 years, 51 promising youth projects started their journey of sustainable development through the forum. It provides a platform to unlock the power of youth and move forward towards a more innovative, inclusive and sustainable future.