Bangkok, 26 March – UNDP and Citi Foundation today commenced the inaugural regional Youth Co:Lab Summit 2018 in Bangkok, bringing together over 200 delegates including government officials, private sector participants, NGOs, academia and youth participants to advance discussions and next steps in addressing youth unemployment challenges in the Asia Pacific region.
According to the International Labor Organization, around 71 million young people, defined as those aged 15 to 24, are unemployed worldwide and Asia Pacific is home to 33 million of them.
With the world’s youth population making up nearly a fourth of the global population, this presents a pressing problem. Even for those who are employed, the majority of the region’s youth live in poverty, especially in low and middle income countries.
Launched in 2017 by UNDP with support from Citi Foundation, Youth Co:Lab* is a regional program that aims to tackle social and unemployment challenges by harnessing youth leadership, entrepreneurship and innovation. Youth Co:Lab is part of Citi and the Citi Foundation’s Pathways to Progress initiative to prepare urban youth to thrive in today's economy.
In its inaugural year, the program has reached over 1,700 young people and has helped to launch or further develop over 140 social enterprises. On the back of this success, the program co-led by UNDP and Citi Foundation will be scaled to 16 countries in the region in the coming year.
Opening the Summit this morning, held at the United Nations Conference Center in Bangkok, were Dr. Sophon Napathorn, Vice Minister for Education, Ministry of Education, Thailand; Haoliang Xu, Assistant Secretary General of the United Nations and Director of the United Nations Development Programme for Asia Pacific and Brandee McHale, President of the Citi Foundation and Director of Corporate Citizenship at Citi.
Haoliang stated: “Youth Co:Lab’s ecosystem catalysing model integrates young people, government and businesses with the expertise of other members of the UN family and with partners including Citi Foundation in order to scale impact. From developing financing pipelines to supporting business development or new legal framework guidance, we aim to bring a tailored package of social business needs to each country.”
“The focus of this Summit is all about tapping into the entrepreneurial spirit of young people to help them drive the solutions that can help tackle some of the region’s biggest economic and social challenges,” said Brandee McHale, President of the Citi Foundation. “The Citi Foundation’s work with the UNDP over the past year on the Youth Co:Lab demonstrates the cross-sector approach we will need to take if we are going to fulfill the ambitious Sustainable Development Goals by 2030,” said Brandee.
The first day of the event continues with several keynotes and parallel discussions led by prominent speakers and experts including Mechai Viravaidya, Founder of the Mechai Viravaidya Foundation; Jonathan Wong, Chief of Technology and Innovation for UNESCAP; Florencia Spangaro, Director of Programs for Citi Foundation; Audrey Pe, Founder of WiTech Philippines and Faiz Shah, Development Manager & Director of the Yunus Center at the Asian Institute of Technology.
The Summit will conclude on March 28 with the Youth Co:Lab Regional Social Innovation Challenge.
A total of 21 teams from nine countries who have been recognized at national Youth Co:Lab Social Innovation Challenges will pitch their social enterprise models to a panel of esteemed judges.
Judges include David Galipeau, Chief Impact Officer, UNDP SDG Impact Finance; Brandee McHale; Chinawut Chinaprayoon, Director of New Venture and Entrepreneurship at National Science Technology and Innovation Policy Office, Thailand; Elsie Tsui, Project Director, Hong Kong Social Enterprise Challenge; Sujiva Dewaraja, Former Executive Vice President, John Keells Holdings Sri Lanka and Chiratas Nivatpumin, Assistant Chief Operating Officer, Newspaper Business, Bangkok Post.
Further details on the Summit including the agenda and list of finalist teams for the Social Innovation Challenge can be found on the Youth Co:Lab Summit website at youthcolabsummit.org.
Members of the Media are invited to attend the Regional Social Innovation Challenge. Any interest to speak with the participants can be conveyed to the media contacts included in this press release.
For ongoing updates on the Youth Co:Lab program, follow #YouthCoLab and visit youthcolab.org.
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