Bangkok UNDP and Citi Foundation today commenced the inaugural regional Youth Co:Lab Summit 2018 in Bangkok, bringing together over 200 delegates including government officials, private sector participants, NGOs, academia and youth participants to advance discussions and next steps in addressing youth unemployment challenges in the Asia Pacific region.
According to the International Labor Organization, around 71 million young people, defined as those aged 15 to 24, are unemployed worldwide, and Asia Pacific is home to 33 million of them.
With the world's youth population making up nearly a fourth of the global population, this presents a pressing problem. Even for those who are employed, the majority of the region's youth live in poverty, especially in low and middle income countries.
Launched in 2017 by UNDP with support from Citi Foundation, Youth Co:Lab* is a regional program that aims to tackle social and unemployment challenges by harnessing youth leadership, entrepreneurship and innovation. Youth Co:Lab is part of Citi and the Citi Foundation's Pathways to Progress initiative to prepare urban youth to thrive in today's economy.
In its inaugural year, the program has reached over 1,700 young people and has helped to launch or further develop more than 140 social enterprises. On the back of this success, the program, co-led by UNDP and Citi Foundation, will be scaled to 16 countries in the region in the coming year.
Opening the Summit this morning, held at the United Nations Conference Center in Bangkok, were Dr. Sophon Napathorn, Vice Minister for Education, Ministry of Education, Thailand; Haoliang Xu, Assistant Secretary General of the United Nations and Director of the United Nations Development Programme for Asia Pacific and Brandee McHale, President of the Citi Foundation and Director of Corporate Citizenship at Citi.
Haoliang stated: "Youth Co:Lab's ecosystem catalysing model integrates young people, government and businesses with the expertise of other members of the UN family and with partners including Citi Foundation in order to scale impact. From developing financing pipelines to supporting business development or new legal framework guidance, we aim to bring a tailored package of social business needs to each country."
"The focus of this Summit is all about tapping into the entrepreneurial spirit of young people to help them drive the solutions that can help tackle some of the region's biggest economic and social challenges," said Brandee McHale, President of the Citi Foundation. "The Citi Foundation's work with the UNDP over the past year on the Youth Co:Lab demonstrates the cross-sector approach we will need to take if we are going to fulfil the ambitious Sustainable Development Goals by 2030," said Brandee.
The first day of the event continues with several keynotes and parallel discussions led by prominent speakers and experts including Mechai Viravaidya, Founder of the Mechai Viravaidya Foundation; Jonathan Wong, Chief of Technology and Innovation for UNESCAP; Florencia Spangaro, Director of Programs for Citi Foundation; Audrey Pe, Founder of WiTech Philippines and Faiz Shah, Development Manager & Director of the Yunus Center at the Asian Institute of Technology.
The Summit will conclude on March 28 with the Youth Co:Lab Regional Social Innovation Challenge.
A total of 21 teams from nine countries who have been recognized at national Youth Co:Lab Social Innovation Challenges will pitch their social enterprise models to a panel of esteemed judges.
Judges include David Galipeau, Chief Impact Officer, UNDP SDG Impact Finance; Brandee McHale; Chinawut Chinaprayoon, Director of New Venture and Entrepreneurship at National Science Technology and Innovation Policy Office, Thailand; Elsie Tsui, Project Director, Hong Kong Social Enterprise Challenge; Sujiva Dewaraja, Former Executive Vice President, John Keells Holdings Sri Lanka and Chiratas Nivatpumin, Assistant Chief Operating Officer, Newspaper Business, Bangkok Post.
Further details on the Summit including the agenda and list of finalist teams for the Social Innovation Challenge can be found on the Youth Co:Lab Summit website at youthcolabsummit.org.
Members of the Media are invited to attend the Regional Social Innovation Challenge. Any interest to speak with the participants can be conveyed to the media contacts included in this press release.
For ongoing updates on the Youth Co:Lab program, follow #YouthCoLab and visit youthcolab.org.
*Introduced in 2017, Youth Co:Lab comprises National Dialogues and Social Innovation Challenges to promote youth leadership by harnessing youth entrepreneurship and social innovation.
National Dialogues bring together delegates from private and public sectors to identify challenges and solutions that can improve the support and ecosystem for youth entrepreneurship in the region. Social Innovation Challenges, which are structured similar to start-up hackathons, enable participating youth to showcase their social enterprises, ideas and solutions to tackle some of the world's biggest social challenges.
In the first year of partnership, Citi Foundation and UNDP launched Youth Co:Lab in Thailand, Philippines and China. To date, a total of 72 social enterprises have been launched or further developed in these countries and a number of government and private sector investments have been confirmed.
Outside of the partnership with Citi Foundation, the program was introduced in eight other countries in the region: Maldives, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Bhutan, Vanuatu, Solomon Islands, Pakistan and Vietnam.
In its inaugural year, the Youth Co:Lab initiative has reached out to over 1,700 young people and led to the launch and further development of over 140 social enterprises. A total of 15 government and private sector investments have also resulted from the initiative.
** Pathways to Progress is Citi and the Citi Foundation's response to the persistent issue of youth unemployment globally. Led by the philanthropic efforts of the Citi Foundation, and strengthened by the active involvement of dedicated Citi volunteers, the Pathways to Progress initiative supports programs that help young people, ages 16-24, build an entrepreneurial mindset, acquire leadership, financial and workplace skills, and begin to engage in the formal economy through a first job.
In February 2017, the Citi Foundation announced it would expand its philanthropic commitment to empowering urban youth with an additional $100 million investment to impact the lives of 500,000 young people in cities around the world by 2020. To support these efforts, Citi is mobilizing 10,000 Citi volunteers to serve as mentors, coaches, and provide professional advice to help young people move towards their career goals.
Citi, the leading global bank, has approximately 200 million customer accounts and does business in more than 160 countries and jurisdictions. Citi provides consumers, corporations, governments and institutions with a broad range of financial products and services, including consumer banking and credit, corporate and investment banking, securities brokerage, transaction services, and wealth management.
Additional information may be found at www.citigroup.com | Twitter: @Citi | YouTube: www.youtube.com/citi | Blog: http://blog.citigroup.com | Facebook: www.facebook.com/citi | LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/company/citi.
The Citi Foundation works to promote economic progress and improve the lives of people in low-income communities around the world. We invest in efforts that increase financial inclusion, catalyze job opportunities for youth, and reimagine approaches to building economically vibrant cities. The Citi Foundation's "More than Philanthropy" approach leverages the enormous expertise of Citi and its people to fulfill our mission and drive thought leadership and innovation. For more information, visit www.citifoundation.com.
UNDP works in about 170 countries and territories, helping to achieve the eradication of poverty, and the reduction of inequalities and exclusion. We help countries to develop policies, leadership skills, partnering abilities, institutional capabilities and build resilience in order to sustain development results. This is a critical time for the world. At UNDP, we see this period as a huge opportunity to advance the global sustainable development agenda. In September 2015, world leaders adopted the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure that all people enjoy peace and prosperity. We support countries' efforts to achieve the new Sustainable Development Goals, or Global Goals, which will guide global development priorities through 2030. UNDP focuses on helping countries build and share solutions in three main areas: Sustainable development; Democratic governance and peacebuilding; and Climate and disaster resilience. In all our activities, we encourage the protection of human rights and the empowerment of women, minorities and the poorest and most vulnerable. The Youth Co:Lab project is run out of the Effective Governance team at UNDP's Bangkok Regional Hub for the Asia-Pacific. Additional information can be found at: http://www.asia-pacific.undp.org/.