Summit seeks to influence policy initiatives on youth entrepreneurship hinh anh 1More than half of young people in the world today live in Asia Pacific (Source: UNDP)

Hanoi (VNA)
- More than 500 delegates, including hundreds of young people, partners and government officials from 20 countries, exchanged ideas, knowledge and experiences to influence policy initiatives on youth entrepreneurship and social innovation at the second Asia Pacific Youth Co:Lab Summit, which opened in Hanoi on April 4.

The event was jointly held by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and Citi Foundation, with the collaboration and support from the Vietnamese Ministry of Science and Technology and the Vietnam Volunteer Centre.

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 15-24, are unemployed worldwide, of whom 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 the 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 marginalized youth, by connecting them with businesses, incubators, accelerators, and financing mechanisms to develop their ideas into viable business models for sustainable social impact.

Speaking at the opening ceremony, Valerie Cliff, UNDP Deputy Regional Director for Asia and the Pacific, said the UNDP’s 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.

“This is how we can align the grit and determination of young change makers to meet the ambition of the SDGs,” she noted.

Tran Van Tung, Vietnamese Deputy Minister of Science and Technology, said in the current context of global integration and development, startups 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.

The Youth Co:Lab Summit 2019 is a significant event for the innovative startup 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 cooperation, he said.

The two-day 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.-VNA