Since the adoption of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), a growing number of initiatives have sought to provide support to youth-led innovations by addressing the challenges that young people face in creating and scaling their projects. As part of this global movement, the Youth Solutions Program by SDSN Youth has grown exponentially since the publication of the first edition of the Youth Solutions Report in January 2017, becoming a reference point for discussions around the need to build innovation systems that are both youth-inclusive and aligned with the SDGs. As a consequence, its activities have been recently expanded with the launch of the Youth Solutions Hub, an online community-building platform that connects young sustainability innovators with experienced and dedicated mentors from industry, business and academia as well as with funding opportunities, information about useful events and a wide range of relevant toolkits and materials  

On 29th March, the Youth Solutions Hub held a webinar to formally introduce the Hub, after its soft launch at the 2018 Vatican Youth Symposium. The webinar started with an introduction of the Youth Solutions Hub by Inna Amesheva, Project Officer with the Youth Solutions Program and manager of the Hub. She discussed the features and characteristics of the Hub, the opportunities for members and mentors, and exciting upcoming developments. Then, young innovators and Hub members Kimberly and Blandine, who won the SDSN Youth Special Prize at The Geneva Challenge 2018, highlighted the types of benefits that they seek from participating in a similar project, ranging from advice and mentorship to opportunities to participate in skills development workshops, and including access to tools that could help them refine their solution: Enhanced Sustainable Bio-Concrete’s business model aiming to help solve environmental issues related to drinking water.

In order to explain more about how the Hub intends to work with high-level experts and mentors, the Head of Partnerships of the Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN) Lauren Barredo elaborated on how SDSN will be able to rely on its strong partner ecosystem of around 900 universities and research institutes across 130 countries to link innovators with top experts on issues such as agriculture, climate change, and waste, among others. Lauren also stressed the importance of including representatives of the private sector in the Hub, with a view to mobilizing their entrepreneurial expertise in support of its mentorship activities.

The aim of the webinar, moderated by Dario Piselli, Project Lead of the Youth Solutions Program, was to introduce the Hub through a lively conversation between the 170+ individuals and organizations that are already registered on the Hub. The webinar also gave an opportunity to provide relevant feedback and inputs for the further development of the community. Building on this objective, Antoinette Marie from World Vision Canada suggested that the hub could find a more effective way of matching innovators with partners that are offering funding, along with providing easy ways to find innovators to reach out to within a certain geographical region.    

It was also encouraging to hear from Christian Mortelliti, from the UN Economic and Social Commission for the Asia-Pacific (UNESCAP), that they are excited to be on the platform and to see it grow. In line with UNESCAP’s invaluable expertise in capacity-building activities, Christian also gave an overview of the synergies that  SDG Help Desk can have with the Youth Solutions Hub, highlighting the upcoming contributions that the organisation plans to make as a partner on the hub.

The webinar concluded with a renewed emphasis by my fellow team members of the Youth Solutions Program on the goal of the Hub to equip young SDG innovators with the tools and skill-set they needs, enhancing their capacity and enabling them to scale their solutions and ideas. If you are interested, join the hub by clicking here now!  

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Kanika Joshi works as a Research Associate with IFMR LEAD in India and has a postgraduate degree in Sustainable Development Practices from TERI University of New Delhi. Her current research interest lies within youth inclusion, human rights, financial literacy and gender based violence.

She has experience in participatory appraisals with tribal/rural/peri urban communities and in implementing interventions in the livelihoods sector. Her field engagements include conducting social research in Uttarakhand, Odisha, Uttar Pradesh, Karnataka, Gujarat, Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu and Delhi.

She has worked with The Energy Resource Institute, SELCO Foundation and HCL Foundation. She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Commerce from University of Delhi and is a keen contemporary dancer.

With SDSN Youth, Kanika has contributed immensely towards the Youth Solutions Report and keeps representing the Global South in several conferences.