Expo 2020: Entrepreneurship, Innovation and the SDGs at UN Hub

Advancing the 2030 Agenda through Youth empowerment

  • Global Compact Networks of UAE, Lebanon and Egypt gathered at the UN Hub at Mission Possible – Opportunity District, EXPO 2020 for a regional discussion on socio-economic progress through the youth.
  • The session introduced a lineup of expert speakers from Accenture, SAP Next-Gen, Endeavor, Ideanco. and CSR UAE Fund.
  • A youth-centric dialogue led by young professionals entrepreneurs, and university students coming from Chalhoub Group, ENGIE, Emirates, University of Sharjah, First Abu Dhabi Bank, UNFPA, Accenture, ENOC, Sorbonne University, RTA, DEWA and Youth SDG Council.

Dubai, UAE, November 21 — On Monday, December 13, 2021 the Global Compact networks of UAE, Lebanon and Egypt joined forces at the UN Hub – Expo 2020 in Dubai for a panel session aimed to tackle the significant role youth plays in contributing to the achievement of the SDGs through their inclusion in the workforce and public frameworks with the support of academic institutions.

The session gathered a regional panel discussion of expert speakers to talk about their personal experiences, their entrepreneurial mindsets, and their advice to the younger generation in their career path. The session was then followed by a youth circle composed of young professionals from the public and private sector, academic institutions, and civil society organizations who continued the conversation and shared their views around the topic of youth empowerment and the SDGs.

Now more than ever, the world needs the youth to solve its greatest challenges. As an ambitious catalyst for change and innovation, their inclusion in the workforce is crucial in advancing our societies towards sustainable development. Yet, many young people face challenges with regards to economic inclusion notably driven by a lack of academic support and public-private partnerships schemes.

The session was opened by Deenah Fakhoury, Executive Director of the Global Compact Network Lebanon who shared insights on how they are mobilizing young people towards the SDGs. She shared some alarming numbers on youth unemployment worldwide, which remained high during the last 15 years. 30% of young women and 13% of young men remain uneducated and/or unemployed.

Dunia Bou Nader, Marketing and Sustainability Director at ideanco. facilitated the panel and welcomed the speakers for a 40-minutes interactive session about advancing sustainable development through youth entrepreneurship and socio-economic empowerment.

The panel first tackled the importance of multi-stakeholder partnerships schemes in fostering youth empowerment. Wissam Kadi, Global Initiatives Director at SAP Next-Gen and University Alliances at SAP shared how their program is connecting industries in the private sector to young talent and academic students to foster partnerships and engage both worlds for a greater purpose. “Multi-stakeholder partnerships is the way forward to promote skill-building. At SAP, we have partnered with several schools to promote computer science and programming to young women as well as working on programs to foster dialogue around skills development with schools from developing countries that are usually not part of the discussion.”

However, the role of academic institutions, be they high schools or universities, do hold a particular and significant role in shaping the next generation of bright minds, to begin with. Not only does it provide the youth with hard skills, but it also equips them with soft skills much needed to enter the workforce. Maryam highlighted that “getting an academic education should not be for the sole purpose of finding a job. Instead, we should approach it as a way to learn and develop to cultivate resilience and become an active agent of change”

The conversation then moved towards the role of entrepreneurship as a model for economic growth, and how the former can be best supported to thrive in today’s challenging environment. “Entrepreneurs are the engine of the economy simply because they have the ability to change and adapt to global challenges much faster than any large corporations” highlighted Ayman Ismail, Chairman of Endeavor Egypt. Samar Alamro, Associate Director and Strategic Operations looked at the question from an innovative perspective, and added that “innovation represents a significant catalyst for both economic growth and youth empowerment in the workforce because it allows young people to go from job seekers to job makers”. On another hand, Maryam AlQassab, Member Board of Trustees at CSR UAE, emphasized the importance of multi-stakeholder partnerships in supporting young entrepreneurs. “Entrepreneurship model cannot be successful in an environment lacking a dynamic relationship between the private sector, the public sector, and financial institutions”.

The session then moved into a youth-centric dialogue led by young professional entrepreneurs, and university students coming from Chalhoub Group, ENGIE, Emirates, University of Sharjah, First Abu Dhabi Bank, UNFPA, Accenture, ENOC, Sorbonne University, RTA, DEWA, the American University of Sharjah and Youth SDG Council. Facilitated by Wissam Kadi, they shaped the conversation around entrepreneurship and education in the GCC. Many highlighted the importance of fostering entrepreneurial skills at a young age, and many agreed on the role that families and surrounding communities play in building the perseverance and ambition of young minds. On an educational level, most of the youth participants agreed that the integration of the Sustainable Development Goals into academic curriculums will forcefully advance the way forward towards Agenda 2030.

To watch the full session, please visit the link below.


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