LGBTI+ Youth Innovation Challenge

Opening Remarks by UNDP Resident Representative Ramla Khalidi

May 31, 2024

Ms Ramla Khalidi, Resident Representative, UNDP in Viet Nam

UNDP in Viet Nam

HE Ambassador Kees van Baar, the Kingdom of the Netherlands to Vietnam 

Mr. Ramachandran A.S. (RamC), Country Director of Citibank in Viet Nam

Esteemed guests and 23 chosen regional LGBTI+ startups and projects joining us today.

Good afternoon, everyone.

On behalf of UNDP Viet Nam, I am very pleased to say a few words at the Closing Ceremony of The Regional LGBTI+ Youth Innovation Challenge 2024. 

Firstly, congratulations to 23 startup teams for being selected for this challenge. The selection process was highly competitive, attracting over 142 applications from countries across Asia and the Pacific. Your strong interest and passion in addressing traditional exclusion of young LGBTI+ people from the entrepreneurship ecosystem truly stood out. I trust that the insights gained from our guest speakers over the online bootcamp, and the last three days have been valuable, and I eagerly look forward to hearing the results of our collaborative efforts today.

Before we start the Ceremony, let's take a moment to emphasize why UNDP finds it crucial to engage young LGBTI+ in inclusive entrepreneurship movement.

To truly achieve the goal of an inclusive society, it is important to hear the voices of and include people from all backgrounds, irrespective of their gender or sexual orientation. However, young people wishing to advance LGBTI+ representation and inclusion across the Asia Pacific lack spaces where they can share their perspectives and voices to solve related challenges. According to the UNDP 2024 LGBTI Inclusion Index Report on the pilot implementation in 6 countries, no country has achieved complete inclusivity across health, education, safety, civil participation, and economic empowerment. Notably, in Viet Nam, there is much work to be done in education and economic well-being.  

UNDP works extensively on youth economic empowerment across Asia and the Pacific, including Viet Nam through different regional and national level initiatives, like Youth Co:Lab. Co-created by UNDP and the Citi Foundation in 2017, Youth Co:Lab fosters leadership, social innovation, and entrepreneurship among young people in 28 countries and territories. Since then, 255,000+ youth have been empowered through Youth Co:Lab activities and 1700+ youth-led social innovation and entrepreneurship teams have been financially and technically supported. 

Our commitment to gender equality and leaving no one behind drives these efforts, aiming to build an enabling environment that provides equitable opportunities for youth, especially LGBTI+ youth.  We believe that entrepreneurship serves as a catalyst for LGBTI+ youth to enhance leadership skills and understand organizational management, legal contexts, and problem-solving. This, in turn, will lead to stronger voices and participation of these individuals and groups into society and the economy.

With that goal in mind, we trust that the challenge will be a valuable platform for young people, to build an enabling environment for economic inclusion of LGBTI+ youth that provides equitable access to opportunities. 

Esteemed guests and youth delegates, 

In closing, please allow me to highlight the role of LGBTI+ youth. You, today’s youth, are not simply passive witnesses. You have within your power to be positive agents of change. You represent an immense and valuable potential contribution to shape the future of sustainable development, peace, and the protection of human rights.

With that, I would like to extend my sincere appreciation to the Citi Foundation and the Kingdom of the Netherlands for their meaningful collaboration in organizing the Challenge. I would also like to express our heartfelt thanks to the guest speakers, mentors, and judges who accompanied us in this journey.

Thank you /Xin cam on!