Beijing, 22 March The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), with the support of the Citi Foundation, concluded the China Chapter of the Youth Co:Lab “National Dialogue” in Beijing on Sunday, March 18. 2018. The four-day competition was held at Tsinghua University and the UN China Compound, where three winning projects were selected from 15 groups, out of a total of 140 proposals from across China.
The theme for the National Dialogue was “inclusive design”, welcoming all types of ideas, designs and projects that reduce not only the physical environment, but also the informational, attitudinal, social and institutional obstacles that prevent all people from participating equally in the society. The impact aimed at benefiting people living with disabilities, and also elderly, pregnant women, toddlers, as well as those who are temporarily injured.
“China has over 85 million men and women with disabilities, and it is estimated that the population in demand for all forms of accessibility can reach as high as 400 million people,” said Devanand Ramiah, Deputy Country Director of UNDP China. “Unless the marginalized groups are brought into the development mainstream, achieving the SDGs by 2030 will be a serious challenge. Young entrepreneurs can take a great part in developing ideas and solutions that reduce barriers.”
Winners of the “National Dialogue” competition in Beijing include a social enterprise that provides 3D printed prosthesis to children who are physically disabled and a start-up that empowers people with disabilities to become tour guides for regular tourists according to their tailored travel needs, and a startup to assist physically disabled people in intimacy, social and emotional expression and needs.
“We found in our research that among 1.1 million children with physical disabilities, many of them live in remote and poor areas and cannot afford expensive artificial limbs in the market,” said Lily Gu, member of “Hands On,” the “Scale-up” award winning team. “We realized that we could solve this problem by using 3D technology.” “Hands On” 3D prints free and lighter artificial limbs, and has provided 91 free prosthesis to children and families across China since 2016.
The Youth Co:Lab is a programme brought to life by thousands of young people across the Asia-Pacific region. It aims to empower young people to lead social change in their communities and accelerate the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals through social innovation and entrepreneurship.
Starting the fall of 2017, with the support of Citi Foundation, the “National Dialogue” project has been embarking on a journey across several countries in the Asia-Pacific region. Each “National Dialogue” brings together the local youth, government, private sector and academia with the aim of promoting an enabling environment for entrepreneurship and strengthening the capacities of young entrepreneurs and social innovators to develop ideas and business models for social impact in their communities.
“Citi is pleased and committed to work with UNDP and other partners to provide a sustainable and inclusive platform and pathway for youth, assisting them to establish entrepreneurship consciousness, leadership and capacities,” said Ms. Liu Lingzi, the Head of Citizenship of Citi China. “We hope to push for greater progress on the issue of development through coordination and collaboration with the young generation and all sectors, thus contributing to the SDGs.”
Through training, workshops and competitions during the four-day event, UNDP also worked with Easy Inclusion, a social enterprise that is dedicated to facilitating disability inclusion and diversity in the mainstream society. The workshops run by Easy Inclusion’s Disability Equality Training (DET) facilitators explored key questions with young social innovators and entrepreneurs, in order to help them initiate inclusive, needs-based solutions with potential business viability through a dynamic, highly participatory and interactive approach.
During her closing remarks, UNDP Country Director Agi Veres reiterated the importance of youth participation in sustainable development and the need to continue the pursuit of inclusion and equality for all.
Among the 400 applicants, 86% of them were people aged from 18 to 29 years old. 15 projects totaling 60 people were selected and 59% of the total participants were young women.
The winners of the National Dialogue China Chapter are invited to participate the Regional Youth Co:Lab Summit held in Bangkok, Thailand at the end of this month. They will have the opportunity to compete with winners with various start-up projects from 11 other countries.