Guangzhou, November 7, 2019 — The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the All-China Youth Federation co-hosted the 2019 Asia-Pacific Forum on Youth Leadership, Innovation and Entrepreneurship from the 3rd to 7th of November in Guangzhou, China.
Organized by Guangzhou Youth Federation, China Youth Daily and China Foundation for Youth Entrepreneurship and Employment, the 2019 Asia-Pacific Forum on Youth Leadership, Innovation and Entrepreneurship brought together 200 participants from 30 countries and territories, collectively aiming to empower young people and accelerate the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
The Forum provided a platform to showcase how youth can effectively contribute to sustainable development in Asia-Pacific and explored the role of young people in contributing towards Chinese policies and strategies such as the Belt and Road Initiative and Rural Revitalization. The forum engaged key enablers of the entrepreneurial ecosystem in the Asia Pacific region including governments, academia, incubators, the private sector, youth organizations and youth start-ups. It also opened up networks for collective learning and facilitated sharing of experiences, leading the way forward for a more inclusive and productive entrepreneurial ecosystem.
According to the UNDP Human Development Report 2016 and the ILO Employment Report 2018, the Asia-Pacific region has the largest cohort of young people in the world with a youth population of 717 million. Yet, approximately 300 million young people are either unemployed or underemployed in the region, many of which face challenges that limit their economic and social inclusion. UNDP seeks to develop an enabling environment for youth entrepreneurship, building the capacities of young entrepreneurs and empowering them to develop ideas to drive social impact for their communities.
“At UNDP, leveraging the potential of youth for development is one of our top priorities. Young people are central to the achievement of the SDGs and are experiencing many issues it seeks to address”, said Mr. Devanand Ramiah, UNDP Deputy Resident Representative in China, at the opening ceremony.
UNDP’s flagship report “Youth Entrepreneurship in Asia and the Pacific 2019” was launched at the Forum giving a snapshot of the status of youth entrepreneurship and the entrepreneurial ecosystem in 10 countries of the Asia-Pacific region.
23 youth-led start-ups, including 13 from China and 10 from other Asia-Pacific countries were invited to showcase their ideas on how businesses can contribute to social good and address social challenges in their own countries. “Clear Plate” from China, an artificial intelligence-based application dedicated to reducing food waste and promoting responsible consumption; “Yinshu”, a social enterprise from China using AI technology to provide communication tools for the hearing-impaired and “Avijatrik” from Bangladesh, a platform promoting community-based tourism for the underdeveloped regions were some of many business enterprise ideas showcased at the forum.
In the Asia-Pacific region, UNDP aims to help create and nurture an enabling ecosystem for youth entrepreneurs to fulfill their potentials. Part of these efforts is the Regional Programme for Leadership, Innovation and Entrepreneurship (Youth Co:Lab), which is a movement to mainstream youth social innovation and entrepreneurship and tackle social and employment issues by harnessing youth passion for social good. The program has reached out and trained over 2500 young people and led to the launch and further development of over 500 social enterprises across a total of 25 countries.