The ‘#Our2030: Youth Dialogue’ which brought together over 300 young people was held recently at the BMICH in Colombo. This full day dialogue was hosted by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) together with the Ministry of National Polices, Economic Affairs, Resettlement & Rehabilitation, Northern Province Development, Vocational Training, Skills Development & Youth Affairs, the Ministry of Digital Infrastructure and Information Technology, the National Youth Services Council (NYSC), the Information and Communications Technology Agency of Sri Lanka (ICTA), Citi Foundation, and Youth Co Lab (a programme co-led by UNDP and Citi Foundation).
Throughout the day, the Dialogue engaged young people from across the country, in several interesting thematic discussions on leadership, innovation and entrepreneurship.
Organizations working with and for young people were also engaged in discussions on localizing the Youth 2030: UN Youth Strategy and on how to develop a Comprehensive Youth Development Programme, mainstreaming all youth development activities in the country under one integrated programme.
The day ended with a recognition evening for the 16 teams of the HackaDev Social Innovation Challenge of 2018. These teams received seed funding and incubation support to further develop their solutions to the social cause.
Addressing the young people at the closing session, Hon. Sagala Ratnayaka, Minister of Ports, Shipping and Southern Development stated, “During my tenure as the former Minister of Youth Affairs, Project Management and Southern Development, I heard of many of these young people’s innovations and it’s great to see how far you have come in taking your idea and converting it into an innovative solution that will help Sri Lanka. We need more young people like you to think out of the box and start enterprises which benefits communities at large.”
Taking these initiatives forward, UNDP is now working with the Ministry of Digital Infrastructure and Information Technology to establish a ‘Digital for Social Innovation Incubator’, providing a support platform for startup ventures.
Speaking further about the Incubator, Hon. Ajith P. Perera, Ministry of Digital Infrastructure and Information Technology stated, “Creating space for innovation is a priority for the Government. That is why the Government is keen to invest and establish in a ‘Digital for Social Innovation Incubator’, a facility which will play a key role in positioning Sri Lanka as a hub for Innovation and Entrepreneurship.”
HackaDev - a joint initiative of UNDP, the Ministry of Digital Infrastructure and Information Technology, the National Youth Services Council and the Information and Communication Technology Agency of Sri Lanka, in partnership with Citi Foundation, Citra Social Innovation Lab, Youth Co Lab, Dialog Ideamart and Expo Lanka Holdings PLC.
80 participants from the ‘Technopreneurship for Social Change’ programme who successfully completed the coaching programme were also recognized at this event.
The Advanced Coaching session of the ‘Technopreneurship for Social Change’ programme, another youth initiative, also ran parallel to the Dialogue. A joint initiative of UNDP, Citi Foundation, Cisco and the National Youth Services Council, the ‘Technopreneurship for Social Change’ has reached more than 1000 young people from around the country in 2018 through 20 programmes held in 20 locations through e-learning courses on leadership, financial literacy and entrepreneurship.
Speaking about the social impact of entrepreneurship and startups, Mr. Ravin Basnayake, Country Officer, Citi Sri Lanka highlighted “We’re hopeful that the Technopreneurship programme will start a movement of empowering youth with the skills and technology needed to achieve the country’s sustainable development goals. Citi stands ready to further support this.”
In Sri Lanka alone, nearly a quarter of the population is youth. They are a critical segment of the country’s population; and investing in their potential can play a huge role in how Sri Lanka achieves the vision of a sustainable tomorrow.
Highlighting UNDP’s role in the youth and innovation ecosystem in Sri Lanka, Mr. Jorn Sorensen, Resident Representative, UNDP Sri Lanka stated “Empowering today’s generation of young people is our only chance to end poverty, achieve gender equality and tackle climate action. The journey of development across the globe will depend on how we can work with and for young people to empower you to reach your fullest unrestrained potential and as such UNDP is pleased to be convening this Dialogue”
The vision of ‘#Our2030 Youth Dialogue’, was to bring all organizations working for and with young people to come to work towards a common goal of an integrated approach to make youth development more coherent and sustainable, ensuring that we leave no youth behind.
UNDP: UNDP partners with people at all levels of society to help build nations that can withstand crisis, and drive and sustain the kind of growth that improves the quality of life for everyone. On the ground in 170 countries and territories, we offer global perspective and local insight to help empower lives and build resilient nations.
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Youth Co Lab: A collaborative effort of Citi Foundation and UNDP, Youth Co:Lab was introduced to promote youth leadership by harnessing youth entrepreneurship and social innovation. The initiative aims to instigate, catalyze and sustain youth innovation by supporting the region’s youth-led startups and social enterprises.