Agi Veres: Welcome remarks at Panda Solar Stations Launch for Youth Engagement and Innovation for the Sustainable Development Goals

Sep 1, 2016

By Agi Veres, Country Director, UNDP China

Alan Li, CEO of China Merchants New Energy Group,

Sarah Kemp, Principal Commercial Officer at U.S. Embassy

Zhu Ming, Director General of New Energy and renewable Energy Department of National Energy Administration

Li Jun Feng, Director of the National Centre for Climate Change Strategy and International Cooperation,

Distinguished guests,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Good afternoon.

Let me welcome you all here today to launch UNDP China’s newest initiative. China is the largest producer of solar power technology, and now for the first time we have panda-shaped solar panels.

Pandas are powerful messengers of peace and development, in addition to being very cute. But the real beauty of this project is that it combines the potential of youth and innovation to both empower and create solutions for development challenges.

Almost a year ago, the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) were launched by the United Nations. The interlinked peace and security, development, and environmental challenges our world is facing call for new approaches to human and sustainable development.

To achieve these universal, bolder, and more transformative Goals, we need leadership, commitment, talent, and innovation to drive their implementation.

Energy plays a vital role in achieving all the goals and is thus indispensable to agenda 2030. SDG 7- affordable and clean energy, highlights how energy is central to nearly every major challenge and opportunity the world faces today. Be it for jobs, security, climate change, food production or increasing incomes, access to energy for all is essential.

Building upon the success of panda-shaped solar power farms, this new partnership will help raise public awareness about clean energy and environmental protection, especially around the SDGs. It promotes public consciousness about environmental friendly technologies as well as the benefits of clear energy, particularly solar energy, towards sustainable human development.

Having been to Chengdu at the Chengdu Panda Base myself to see the Pandas, and witnessed the global success of the naming campaign for our Panda Ambassadors for the SDGs or ‘Pambassadors’, I am fully aware of their potential to inspire people and advocate achieving the SDGs. Just walking into the event today I saw all the smiles upon seeing the many pandas. Having engaged over 4000 people around the world in the naming campaign, I believe we will be able to continue its success using the unique power of the pandas in this initiative to further advocate for the SDGs.


But this initiative isn’t just about advocacy, it hopes to engage, inspire and empower young people in China. There is no doubt in my mind that youth are the driving force to achieve the SDGs.

But, how can young people be partners in the implementation of Agenda 2030?

Today’s generation of youth is the largest the world has ever known. More than 60 percent of the population in many UNDP programme countries are youth aged between 15-24 years.

Young people now and in the future will play a big role in how our world adapts to these challenges. With youth comes energy, innovation, and optimism – and if there are supportive environments and opportunities in which to an extent we can help create. These lay the ground for major positive contributions by youth, and for a demographic dividend for nations and our world. 

The energy, ideas, and commitment of youth to sustainable development have already been instrumental in shaping the new agenda. And we see young people creating positive change in their communities around the world. In Sri Lanka, UNDP launched a social innovation hackathon, called “HackaDev”, in which around 250 enthusiastic young people attended to identify innovative solutions to development challenges in their region including inequality and disparity, natural disasters and employment.

UNDP China’s new initiative will provide a space for youth in China to engage in sustainable development and innovation through an Open Design Challenge and Summer Innovation Camps with a focus on the SDGs and clean energy. As well as developing a new cadre of young leaders from China through Youth Exchange.

As UNDP Administrator Helen Clark also said, “Ours is the last generation which can head off the worst effects of climate change, and the first generation with the wealth and knowledge to eradicate poverty.”

I am very optimistic that working together, we can achieve the SDGs and ensure no one is left behind.  Together, with the good ideas you have all brought to this initiative, we can shape a better world. Thank you.

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