UNDP hosts dialogue on Youth Leadership, Innovation and Entrepreneurship in Sri Lanka

A two-day dialogue on Youth Leadership, Innovation and Entrepreneurship hosted by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) commenced in Sri Lanka today at the BMICH.

“#WeAre2030: Youth Dialogue and Incubation Programme,” brings together over 350 young people from across the country began today to create a youth dialogue on entrepreneurship, innovation and leadership in Sri Lanka so together they can achieve the future they want to live in by 2030.

This two-day Dialogue is hosted by UNDP together with the Ministry of Telecommunication and Digital Infrastructure, the Ministry of National Policies and Economic Affairs, the National Youth Services Council (NYSC), the Information and Communications Technology Agency (ICTA) and Unilever.

Minister of National Policies and Economic Affairs Niroshan Perera

“It is by accelerating youth development, that we can mainstream young people in development. Hence we can fulfil our vision of creating a youth centric development plan for the country,” the State Minister of National Policies and Economic Affairs Niroshan Perera said addressing the youth at the opening session.

The Asia Pacific region is home to 60 percent of the world’s youth and in Sri Lanka, 23.2 percent of the population is young people. Through social innovation and entrepreneurship, young people can take control of their futures and have an impact in their communities. Hence this Dialogue comes under the Youth CoLab Programme, introduced by UNDP Asia Pacific, to promote the role of youth entrepreneurship as a driver for social change across 15 countries, including Sri Lanka.

Country Director UNDP Sri Lanka Jorn Sorensen

Speaking at the opening session on UNDP’s work on youth and innovation, Country Director UNDP Sri Lanka Jorn Sorensen said UNDP, remains committed to the youth empowerment agenda and having young people at the heart of its development work.

“Over the years we have remained as a key partner working to empower our younger generation. We are working both through UNDP-led initiatives and through inter-agency collaboration within the wider UN system to engage young women and men as transformative actors for change,” he said.

Speaking about the private sector’s role in partnering youth in development, Ms. Saumya Perera, Head of Sustainable Business and Communication at Unilever said finding one’s purpose, building one’s career is critical, especially as youth stepping into the world. “Young people must be considered as partners in all our initiatives, which is why it is great for Unilever to be a part of #WeAre2030 to work together with as many young people alongside other partners.”

Parallel to this, together with the Ministry of Telecommunication and Digital Infrastructure, the National Youth Services Council and the Information and Communication Technology Agency (ICTA) Sri Lanka, the 9 winning teams from the recently conducted social innovation hackathons ‘Hackadev’ in Badulla, Matara and Jaffna are currently in Colombo for the Incubation Programme where over the two days, their solutions will be guided with the support of mentors and seed funding.

“Through the ‘#WeAre2030: Youth Dialogue and Incubation Programme,’ it is the vision of all partners to initiate a youth dialogue on entrepreneurship, innovation and leadership in Sri Lanka, so together we can achieve sustainable human development by 2030,” UNDP said.