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World Economic Forum Global Shapers meet Mayor Rosy to discuss shared vision for Colombo


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Members of the World Economic Forum’s Global Shapers Community from the Colombo and Kandy Hubs in Sri Lanka recently met with Colombo’s first female mayor, Rosy Senanayake. The meeting was organised as part of the Global Shapers Community’s “Meet the Leader” series, where young people from the Hubs regularly meet, interact and discuss opportunities of collaboration with influential individuals in their respective cities. 

Representatives from the World Economic Forum, the parent organisation of the Global Shapers, also took part in the meeting. They included Nanayaa Appenteng, Head of Strategy Implementation at the Centre for Entrepreneurship and Innovation, and Indira Kithsiri, Community Specialist, India and South Asia, who were in Sri Lanka to discuss innovation and entrepreneurship with stakeholders including high-level government officials and ministers. A government relations manager and youth advocate, Kithsiri said, “As Sri Lanka transitions into an upper-middle-income country, it is critical to engage more young people in the urban planning process and decision-making. They are a critical link between effective development policy and practical action on the ground.”

During the exchange, Mayor Senanayake shared numerous ideas and plans with the Global Shapers that her office has developed for the future of Colombo in consideration of the rapid development of the city, a fast-evolving digital and “smart” age, and the potential competition created as a result of the birth of the city’s port. 

Given Colombo’s aspirations to become South Asia’s next smart city, Senanayake stressed the importance of including the community and residents in the development of the city, reiterating that the future lies in “a public, private and people partnership.” She invited ideas from the Shapers on how to improve services at the ground level. The Shapers and mayor also discussed issues such as housing, environmental concerns, women’s contribution to the labour force, and the role of Colombo city in the fast-developing South Asian region.

Highlighting the importance of start-up ecosystems, Appenteng briefed the mayor and the Shapers on some of the new initiatives planned by the Forum’s Centre for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, in which Colombo aims to play a key role. Appenteng also explained that one of the key objectives of the centre’s work, and its digital platform for start-ups (UpLink), is to empower a global community of innovators and entrepreneurs with the awareness and mindset needed to tackle the world’s most critical issues. 

The meeting concluded with the mayor’s office and the Shapers from the Colombo Hub agreeing to explore possible avenues of collaboration to create a positive impact on the city.

The Global Shapers community is an initiative of the World Economic Forum bringing together a network of inspiring young people under the age of 30 to address local, regional and global challenges. The community has 377 city-based Hubs across 156 countries. 

In South Asia, the Hubs undertake projects aimed at leveraging global networks and knowledge to make a positive impact on their local communities. The Colombo and Kandy Hubs have a dynamic and diverse group of young people consisting of professionals, corporate executives, public-sector employees, entrepreneurs, social workers and students. To learn more about the Global Shapers Community, please visit www.globalshapers.com. 


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