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UNDP teams up with partners to empower young social innovators in Thailand.

25 October 2018, Bangkok – The 2nd Youth Co:Lab in Thailand aims to advance entrepreneurial skills for young social innovators, with a strong focus on Disability and Social Inclusion, Sustainable Tourism, and Sustainable Food Consumption and Production.

Co-organised by United Nations Development Programme and Citi Foundation with support of National Innovation Agency(NIA) and AirAsia, a four-day event held on 25-28 October 2018 has brought together over 100 participants from government agencies, civil society organizations, private sectors and social entrepreneurs  to discuss the important role of young people in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and develop the potential of youth in realizing innovative solutions to tackle social issues.

The Asia-Pacific region is a home to the largest group of youth. However, approximately 300 million young people are eitherunemployed or underemployed. In Thailand, approximately 550,000 of the graduates have not been able to find jobs, according to the National Statistical Office of Thailand’s Labour Force Survey in 2017. 

In her opening remarks, Lovita Ramguttee, UNDP Thailand’s Deputy Resident Representative, underlined the importance of supporting future social innovators. “Young entrepreneurs are the engine of innovation and change, a key partner in ensuring sustainable development in Thailand. We are here to support them. We do not doubt their ability to lead innovation. Rather, we would like to unlock the full potential of youth entrepreneurship, by providing them with the access and resources that they need, based on their feedback, during dialogues such as this Youth Co:Lab event.”

“In addition to entrepreneurial development in the country, another important focus should be on ‘youth’. Creating young people’s innovation awareness and innovative mindset with capacity to be entrepreneur are the most significant factor for sustainable development of tomorrow.” Said Dr. Krithpaka Boonfueng, Deputy Executive Director (Innovation System) at National Innovation Agency.

Ms.Topaz Subunruk, Group Head of Sustainable Development at AirAsia added “AirAsia believes that there are two main components to create sustainability. Firstly, business to be sustained and stably scaled. Secondly, doing business with social, economic, and environment responsibility with the concept of “shared value” that benefits everyone. We believe that everybody, both small, medium and especially big companies, have important roles to support the achievement of the SDGs and make the world a better place. This is the reason why we support UNDP’s Youth Co:Lab program. We help bring local communities from our Journey D initiative to share insights to young people to emphasize that people shall become a good person in “professional” way. They must consider all People, Planet, and Profit aspects to create sustainability. If even one thing is missing, then it’s not sustainable.”

During inspirational talks and panel discussion, successful social entrepreneurs who have been tackling Thailand’s most challenging problems also delivered their key messages to youth. “Actually, there is no such a thing as “people with disabilities”, only the environment can make people feel that way. So, what we should do is, regardless of approaches, to innovate for a better environment for everyone.” said Chatchai Aphibanpoonpon, CEO and founder of KlongDinsor.

“The opportunity for sustainable tourism lies in many aspects, both the provider and consumer. The most significant thing is to connect the need of the local, bring forth their capacity, and build the sense of ownership of their own natural and cultural resources. This is a task young generation should consider.” Suggested Pensiri Sornbut, Knowledge Management Manager at Local Alike, when speaking of sustainable tourism.

By providing youth social entrepreneurs with capacity development training, Youth Co:Lab Thailand 2018 hope to cultivate an enabling environment where young change-makers can finally have access to the space and resources they need to drive social change in their communities and their societies.

This article was originally published on the UNDP Thailand website.