The United Nations, 75 Years Young: Engaging Youth Social Entrepreneurs to Accelerate the SDGs

Armida Salsiah Alisjahbana is the United
Nations Under-Secretary-General and Executive Secretary of the UN
Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific.

By Armida Salsiah Alisjahbana
BANGKOK, Thailand, Oct 26 2020 (IPS)

This year, the United Nations is marking its 75th anniversary
– a milestone of extraordinary economic and social progress in
Asia and the Pacific. While the Organization enjoys a lifespan
almost equal to the world’s improved average life expectancy, the
future lies with those who have recently embarked on theirs: our
young people.

Armida Salsiah Alisjahbana

As they continue breaking ground with entrepreneurial spirit to
address defining issues of our time like climate change, technology
and inequality, our investments in them will win the battle for
sustainability.

Young entrepreneurs have been a source of innovation and
economic dynamism, creating jobs and providing livelihoods to
millions. To achieve and accelerate action on the Sustainable
Development Goals (SDGs), we urgently need their expertise and
voices on creating solutions to social and environmental
challenges, as well as economic opportunities.

Yet, they have needed no prompting: the social entrepreneurship
movement has emerged in Asia and the Pacific in response to
pressing issues, including COVID-19. Spearheaded by the region’s
young people with a strong sense of social justice, social
entrepreneurs are providing innovative, market-based solutions that
break the mold of traditional models focused on economic growth.
But we must do more to truly realize the transformative potential
of young social entrepreneurs.

First, we need to ensure that the next generation of business
leaders think about social purpose as well as profit. To achieve
this, education will be critical. Governments play a key role, like
the Government of Pakistan’s Centre for Social Entrepreneurship.
The Centre’s mission is to support students and young
entrepreneurs identify innovative business solutions to urgent
problems related to the SDGs.

Second, we need to scale up innovative financing solutions. It
is encouraging to see governments embracing impact investing as a
policy tool to provide much-needed finance to young social
entrepreneurs. As an example, ESCAP supported the Government of
Malaysia to launch the Social Impact Exchange. The Exchange mirrors
a traditional stock exchange and links social purpose organisations
to impact investors.

ESCAP and its partner the UN Capital Development Fund (UNCDF)
are also supporting organizations like iFarmer in Bangladesh. The
joint effort has supported iFarmer in creating a digital app to
establish a profit-sharing model between urban investors and rural
women farm entrepreneurs that involves the purchase and management
of livestock. After successful livestock management (raising and
selling cattle), the investor and woman entrepreneur share the
profits, while iFarmer receives support through a management
fee.

Third, as we are living in the Fourth Industrial Revolution,
digitally savvy young social entrepreneurs hold much promise. While
Fourth Industrial Revolution technologies pose challenges to the
economy – most notably relating to jobs and the future of work
– they also have the potential to spur mass entrepreneurship and
new ways of doing business. ESCAP is currently supporting FinTech
start-ups like Aeloi Technologies to develop digital finance and
green solutions for women entrepreneurs. Aeloi’s goal is to make
impact funding for women microentrepreneurs accountable and
accessible using digital tokens, providing an assured digital link
between funders and carbon offset providers. They work specifically
with the electric minibus sector in Kathmandu, Nepal. Their system
helps ensure that each $1 of investment is used towards building
renewable energy powered transportation by providing real-time
climate and social impact tracking.

The United Nation’s 75th anniversary comes at the critical
juncture of a new decade to accelerate the SDGs and recover from an
unprecedented crisis. The need for innovative solutions and
stronger cooperation across all stakeholders, particularly the
youth, is clear.

In this context, the UN family’s anniversary event in Asia and
the Pacific will bring together young social innovators and
entrepreneurs from across the region whose ideas, platforms and
businesses have made an impact. These innovators will discuss how
technology and innovative solutions of today can be scaled up to
build back better towards more inclusive, resilience and green
economies and societies.

We stand ready to support these young people and their
innovative solutions for tackling inequality and promoting
inclusion, economic empowerment of women and girls and moving
towards decarbonization and tackling air pollution. In many ways,
it is they who are carrying the mantle of the 2030 Agenda for
Sustainable Development.

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The post
The United Nations, 75 Years Young: Engaging Youth Social
Entrepreneurs to Accelerate the SDGs
appeared first on Inter Press Service.

Excerpt:

Armida Salsiah Alisjahbana is the United
Nations Under-Secretary-General and Executive Secretary of the UN
Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific.

The post
The United Nations, 75 Years Young: Engaging Youth Social
Entrepreneurs to Accelerate the SDGs
appeared first on Inter Press Service.

Source: FS – All – Ecology – News
The United Nations, 75 Years Young: Engaging Youth Social
Entrepreneurs to Accelerate the SDGs