Home / Business/ UNDP and Citi Foundation host 2nd Asia Pacific Youth Co:Lab Summit

UNDP and Citi Foundation host 2nd Asia Pacific Youth Co:Lab Summit

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From left: UNDP Co-ordination and Partnership Associate Kulunu Jayamanne, Knowledge Management and Reporting Associate Kithmini Nissanka, Citi Sri Lanka Corporate Affairs Head Shanaka Waduge, Ministry of Digital Infrastructure and Information Technology Secretary D.C. Dissanayake, Youth, Tech and Innovation Co-ordinator Ralani Weerasinghe, Winners of HackaDev National Youth Social Innovation Challenge Methdasun Sandamal and Parameshwaran Kovelan 


  • Initiative to accelerate the largest youth social entrepreneurship movement in the region driving the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals

The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and Citi Foundation, with the collaboration and support from the Ministry of Science and Technology and the Viet Nam Volunteer Centre, opened the second Asia Pacific Youth Co:Lab Summit, in Hanoi on Tuesday.

The flagship event brings together over 500 delegates, including hundreds of youth, partners and government officials from 20 countries, to exchange ideas, knowledge and experiences, to influence policy initiatives on youth entrepreneurship and social innovation.

According to the Asia Pacific Human Development Report 2016, more than half the young people in the world today live in Asia Pacific, and 1.7 billion are under 25. The report further states that close to 71 million young people, aged 15 to 24, are unemployed worldwide, of which 33 million are in Asia Pacific alone. Nearly 220 million young people are neither at school nor at work, presenting a daunting crisis that calls for an urgent response.

Co-created in 2017 by UNDP and the Citi Foundation, Youth Co:Lab aims to empower and invest in youth, so that they can accelerate the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) through leadership, social innovation and entrepreneurship.

Over the last two years, Youth Co:Lab projects have been implemented in 20 countries and territories across the region, with national dialogues, regional summits and social innovation challenges reaching over 48,000 participants. The initiative has benefitted over 2,500 young social entrepreneurs and helped launch or improve nearly 500 social enterprises.

Youth Co:Lab has also established partnerships with more than 100 key ecosystem players to strengthen the Youth Empowerment Alliance to support young entrepreneurs, particularly young women and marginalised youth, by connecting them with businesses, incubators, accelerators, and financing mechanisms to develop their ideas into viable business models for sustainable social impact. 

Speaking this morning at the opening of the summit in National Economics University, Hanoi were: UNDP Deputy Regional Director for Asia & the Pacific Valerie Cliff; President of the Citi Foundation and Head of Corporate Citizenship at Citi Brandee McHale; UNDP Viet Nam Resident Representative Caitlin Wiesen; Viet Nam Ministry of Science and Technology Vice Minister Tran Van Tung; and National Economics University of Viet Nam Vice Rector Phạm Hồng Chương.

“As I see the first generation of Youth Co:Lab social entrepreneurs flourish and carry their own initiatives forward, I am reminded of the reason why this work is so important: young people really do hold the key to social change,” said UNDP Deputy Regional Director for Asia & the Pacific Valerie Cliff. “This is how we can align the grit and determination of young change-makers to meet the ambition of the SDGs. Our mandate at Youth Co:Lab is to play the role of an integrator and strengthen the ecosystem connecting young people with governments and businesses to scale impact.”

 “Youth Co:Lab’s approach of listening to the perspectives and ideas of young people, and empowering them to drive business solutions that address our world’s most pressing issues is how real change happens,” added President of the Citi Foundation Brandee McHale. “Only by joining forces with multiple actors from the public and private sector, social partners, civil society and beyond can we work towards fulfilling the Sustainable Development Goals.”“In the current context of global integration and development, start-ups and innovation play an important role in economic development, addressing global difficulties and challenges as well as achieving sustainable development in each country and all over the world,” Vice Minister of Science and Technology, Tran Van Tung, said in his opening remarks. “The Youth Co:Lab Summit 2019, jointly organised by UNDP and Citi Foundation, in collaboration with the Ministry of Science and Technology, is a significant event for the innovative start-up community and the social impact enterprises, in particular. The summit will enable an exchange of ideas and help further developing the start-ups, through incubation, innovation, expanding connections and international cooperaion.”

The two-day summit brings together several keynote speakers, prominent social entrepreneurs, youth change makers, principal government officials and leading ecosystem players, including: Rainergy, Azerbaijan Founder Reyhan Jamalova; World Toilet Organization Founder Jack Sim; Maldives Dept. Minister of Youth Mohamed Azmeel; Secretary to the Ministry of Digital Infrastructure and Information Technology, Sri Lanka D.C. Dissanayake; and National Youth Commission of the Philippines Commissioner-at-large Jame Ceasar Alejandro Ventura,.

The summit will conclude with the Youth Co:Lab Regional Social Innovation Challenge, where 30 teams, pre-selected during the national social innovation challenges held across 16 countries respectively, will pitch and showcase their social enterprises and ideas to a panel of esteemed judges.

Judges include Vynn Capital Managing Partner Victor Chua; Patamar Capital Partner Shuyin Tang; Asian Venture Philanthropy Network (AVPN) Chief Strategy Officer Allison Hollowell; Rainergy, Azerbaijan Founder Reyhan Jamalova; S&P Global Associate Director (Corporate Ratings) Eric Nietsch; Citi Global Markets Head of Pan Asia Core Sales and Head of Pan Asia Client Management Natalie Marko; UNCDF SHIFT ASEAN Deputy Program Manager Deanna Morris,; Citi Public Sector Banking Director Dustin Oliver Ling; and UNDP Viet Nam Deputy Resident Representative Akiko Fuji.

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