The United Nations, 75 years young: Engaging youth social entrepreneurs to accelerate the SDGs

(Mat Reding, Unsplash)

This article was written for The European Sting by Ms. Armida Salsiah Alisjahbana, United Nations Under-Secretary-General and Executive Secretary of the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP). The opinions expressed in this article belong to our distinguished writer.


This year, the United Nations is marking its 75th anniversary – a milestone of extraordinary economic and social progress in Asia and the Pacific. While the Organization enjoys a lifespan almost equal to the world’s improved average life expectancy, the future lies with those who have recently embarked on theirs: our young people.

As they continue breaking ground with entrepreneurial spirit to address defining issues of our time like climate change, technology and inequality, our investments in them will win the battle for sustainability.

Young entrepreneurs have been a source of innovation and economic dynamism, creating jobs and providing livelihoods to millions. To achieve and accelerate action on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), we urgently need their expertise and voices on creating solutions to social and environmental challenges, as well as economic opportunities.

Yet, they have needed no prompting: the social entrepreneurship movement has emerged in Asia and the Pacific in response to pressing issues, including COVID-19. Spearheaded by the region’s young people with a strong sense of social justice, social entrepreneurs are providing innovative, market-based solutions that break the mold of traditional models focused on economic growth. But we must do more to truly realize the transformative potential of young social entrepreneurs.

First, we need to ensure that the next generation of business leaders think about social purpose as well as profit. To achieve this, education will be critical. Governments play a key role, like the Government of Pakistan’s Centre for Social Entrepreneurship. The Centre’s mission is to support students and young entrepreneurs identify innovative business solutions to urgent problems related to the SDGs.

Second, we need to scale up innovative financing solutions. It is encouraging to see governments embracing impact investing as a policy tool to provide much-needed finance to young social entrepreneurs. As an example, ESCAP supported the Government of Malaysia to launch the Social Impact Exchange. The Exchange mirrors a traditional stock exchange and links social purpose organisations to impact investors. 

ESCAP and its partner the UN Capital Development Fund (UNCDF) are also supporting organizations like iFarmer in Bangladesh. The joint effort has supported iFarmer in creating a digital app to establish a profit-sharing model between urban investors and rural women farm entrepreneurs that involves the purchase and management of livestock. After successful livestock management (raising and selling cattle), the investor and woman entrepreneur share the profits, while iFarmer receives support through a management fee.

Third, as we are living in the Fourth Industrial Revolution, digitally savvy young social entrepreneurs hold much promise. While Fourth Industrial Revolution technologies pose challenges to the economy – most notably relating to jobs and the future of work – they also have the potential to spur mass entrepreneurship and new ways of doing business. ESCAP is currently supporting FinTech start-ups like Aeloi Technologies to develop digital finance and green solutions for women entrepreneurs. Aeloi’s goal is to make impact funding for women microentrepreneurs accountable and accessible using digital tokens, providing an assured digital link between funders and carbon offset providers. They work specifically with the electric minibus sector in Kathmandu, Nepal. Their system helps ensure that each $1 of investment is used towards building renewable energy powered transportation by providing real-time climate and social impact tracking.

The United Nation’s 75th anniversary comes at the critical juncture of a new decade to accelerate the SDGs and recover from an unprecedented crisis. The need for innovative solutions and stronger cooperation across all stakeholders, particularly the youth, is clear.

In this context, the UN family’s anniversary event in Asia and the Pacific will bring together young social innovators and entrepreneurs from across the region whose ideas, platforms and businesses have made an impact. These innovators will discuss how technology and innovative solutions of today can be scaled up to build back better towards more inclusive, resilience and green economies and societies.

We stand ready to support these young people and their innovative solutions for tackling inequality and promoting inclusion, economic empowerment of women and girls and moving towards decarbonization and tackling air pollution. In many ways, it is they who are carrying the mantle of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

About the author

Armida Salsiah Alisjahbana is the United Nations Under-Secretary-General and Executive Secretary of the UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific.

the sting Milestones

Featured Stings

Can we feed everyone without unleashing disaster? Read on

These campaigners want to give a quarter of the UK back to nature

How to build a more resilient and inclusive global system

Stopping antimicrobial resistance would cost just USD 2 per person a year

Draghi’s negative interest rates help Eurozone’s cohesion

How COVID-19 could open the door for driverless deliveries

A new Europe for people, planet and prosperity for all

€5 billion of EU energy efficiency project money spent on “comfort”

2030 development agenda: Major breakthrough for world of work

UN chief saddened at news of death of former US President George H.W. Bush

It is me

Consumer protection: Deal on EU-wide rules for those sold faulty products

Blockchain is not a magic bullet for security. Can it be trusted?

Towards a climate-neutral Europe: EU invests over €10bn in innovative clean technologies

Draghi indirectly accuses Germany of using double standards in financial issues

UN court increases sentence of former Bosnian-Serb leader to life imprisonment

EU-US: A new transatlantic agenda for global change

More unemployment and lower wages to make European workers competitive?

UN chief applauds Bangladesh for ‘opening borders’ to Rohingya refugees in need

The gender gap of medicine in 2018

Turn toxic e-waste into a source of ‘decent work’, UN labour agency urges

Why Trump’s tariffs are good news for US garlic farmers

Lifting the lid on policy decisions across Africa

Homicide kills far more people than armed conflict, new UN study shows

10 things you – and your government – should know about competitiveness in the Fourth Industrial Revolution

Why 2020 will see the birth of the ‘trust economy’

We must work together to build a new world order. This is how we can do it

Digital mental health is here – but how do we ensure its quality?

The collision of these 3 geographies is creating a new world order

Here’s why e-mobility must be at the heart of the green recovery

VAT: EU Member States still losing almost €150 billion in revenues according to new figures

Switzerland: prepare for population ageing to maintain high living standards

First seat projections for the next European Parliament

This NASA-inspired technology converts carbon dioxide into food. Here’s how

Our children’s career aspirations have nothing in common with the jobs of the future

Moves to create a Kosovo army have ‘deteriorated relations’ with Serbia: UN peacekeeping chief

EU adopts retaliative measures in response to US steel and aluminum tariffs

1 in 5 deaths globally caused by fossil fuel pollution, a new study reveals

Mental health: simple ideas that can make a difference

The technologies – and thoughtful collaborations – that can build resilience in the food system after COVID-19

European research priorities for 2021-2027 agreed with member states

Contribution of healthcare professionals towards the 2030 Global Health Agenda

Joint EU-U.S. statement following the EU-U.S. Justice and Home Affairs Ministerial Meeting

UN committed to helping Haiti build better future, says Guterres, marking 10-year anniversary of devastating earthquake

10 months were not enough for the EU to save the environment but 2 days are

Syrian crisis is ‘clearest example’ of foreign investment in terrorism, Deputy Prime Minister says at UN

Coronavirus: the truth against the myths

“Only through energy policy we can trigger competitiveness”. The Sting live from #EBS2015: Energy Union – When will it happen?

‘Signs of hope’ toward a political settlement in Yemen, UN special envoy tells Security Council

EU leaders slammed on anti-tax evasion inaction and expensive energy

Ceasefire holds in Tripoli, but core problems remain, says UN Libya mission chief

Quality education an ‘essential pillar’ of a better future, says UN chief

Stateless Rohingya refugee children living in ‘untenable situation’, UNICEF chief

Quality Education on the table at the European Parliament

The developing world must get ready to adapt its trade to climate change

Five cities short-listed to become the European Youth Capital 2017

Cambodia’s digital currency can show other central banks the way

Eurozone: Statistics don’t tell the whole story

We don’t know how autonomous vehicles will depreciate – and that’s a problem

4 key trends on how COVID has impacted women in business

Final turnout data for 2019 European elections announced

Investors have a role in securing our shared digital future

Parliament demands democratic scrutiny over national recovery efforts

More Stings?

Comments

  1. Great initiative to engaging youth social entrepreneurs to accelerate the SDGs.

Speak your Mind Here

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s