UNDP Hosts Annual Youth National Dialogue on Digital Disruption in Post COVID-19

August 28, 2020

Beijing, August 28, 2020 – The 3rd annual National Dialogue was convened virtually from 24th to 28th August and was co-hosted by the United Nations Development Programme, the China Soong Ching Ling Science & Culture Centre for Young People and Citi China to empower Chinese youth in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

COVID-19 and its unprecedented effects on human and socio-economic development have been a wake-up call for humanity. The previous development pathway we were on has proven to be unsustainable, requiring us to relearn, reevaluate, and innovate the future development trajectory.

The theme of this year’s National Dialogue was Digital Disruption in a Post COVID-19 World, to empower young people with digital skills and encourage innovative, inclusive and sustainable solutions to address the social economic and health issues caused by COVID-19.

Among the 206 youth-led start-ups which applied, 39 teams with 98 participants were selected to take part in the event and presented how they intend to address the issues caused by COVID-19 through social innovation and entrepreneurship. Among the 98 participants, 52 percent were young women, 47 percent were youth from areas severely affected by COVID-19, 11 percent were youth from rural areas, and 2 percent were youth with disabilities.

At the opening ceremony, Mr. Devanand Ramiah, the Deputy Resident Representative of UNDP China, stressed the important role of youth in sustainable development, “You as participants, are responding to the challenges caused by COVID-19 with digital solutions, shaping the future you want, and contributing actions to achieve the SDGs.”

Co-created in 2017 by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the Citi Foundation, Youth Co:Lab aims to establish a common agenda for countries in the Asia-Pacific region to empower and invest in youth, so that they can accelerate the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) through leadership, social innovation and entrepreneurship. National Dialogues are an important element of Youth Co:Lab, and have had an impact on young people across the Asia-Pacific region. Since its journey began, Youth Co:Lab has been involved in 25 countries and territories in the region, attracting more than 75,000 young attendees. Each National Dialogue brings together local youth, government, private sector and academia with the aim of promoting an enabling environment for entrepreneurship and strengthening the capabilities of youth to adopt 21st century business models for social development.

“We wish young people could positively contribute your wisdom to the realization of the SDGs, integrate personal ideals and pursuits into the grand cause of promoting the progress and development of human society.” said Mr. Su Hongtao, the Deputy Director General of the China Soong Ching Science & Culture Centre for Young People.

During the 5-day National Dialogue, young entrepreneurs gained mentorship support, were exposed to successful stories and lessons learned, and participated in a China Youth Entrepreneurship Ecosystem Diagnostic Workshop. They also received training on design thinking for digitalization, to assist them in initiating inclusive, needs-based solutions with potential business viability. In the afternoon of the 27th, 32 youth start-ups presented their innovative ideas on how to tackle challenges caused by COVID-19.

“We are very impressed to see how the Chinese young people identify and react to the socio-economic challenges they face, and how they contribute to build a resilient future. Citi has been and will always be a fervent supporter of efforts that help better the life of youth around the world”, said Christine Lam, Chief Executive Officer of Citi China.

Winners of the 2020 National Dialogue China include HurRain Tech, a project which tackles affordable clean water for all via graphene technology, and i-Mask, an innovative air pollution protection equipment designed for workers exposed to dust environments.

“There are over 2 billion people who don’t have access to stable clean water with high quality and low cost in our world and COVID-19 has made this situation even more worrying. We hope our device can help safeguard drinking water safety and contribute to SDG 6: Clean Water and Sanitation”, said HurRain Tech, the First Prize Winner of the Scale-up Track. As the winning team of the Start-up Track, i-Mask developed a nasal gel product in response to the inconvenience of using traditional masks, aiming to improve the well-being for people working in dusty environments.

The winners of National Dialogue China will have the chance to participate in the Regional Youth Co:Lab Summit to be held in 2021. Representing Chinese youth, they will showcase their start-up projects along with youth from more than 25 countries and territories in the Asia-Pacific region and show how young generations contribute to the realization of SDGs through social innovation and entrepreneurship.

For more information and interview requests, please contact:

Beijing: Yue Zhao, yue.zhao@undp.org, +86 185 1111 0464