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Launch of the 2017 Youth Solutions Report

Launch of the 2017 Youth Solutions Report

SDSN Youth launches the first edition of the Youth Solutions Report to provide solutions to address global problems

NEW YORK, January 31 - The first edition of the Youth Solutions Report, which identifies 50 youth-led projects aiming to solve the world’s toughest problems, was released today at the United Nations Headquarters in New York.

The report, produced by the youth initiative of the UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN Youth) identifies and celebrates youth-led projects and ground-breaking ideas to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). It reflects a growing interest in supporting and scaling innovative solutions to address problems such as poverty, inequality, clean and affordable energy, access to healthcare and education, e-participation and waste.

The report highlights the work of youth-led organisations, such as Liter of Light who bring over 750,000 affordable solar lights to 15 countries; the talented team behind BenBen who operate a Blockchain-based land registry that facilitates secure land transactions to encourage investments and transparent land resource management; FinFighters who run a citizen shark science program to collect genetic data and information from Moroccan fishing ports and market; and the group running the SHAPE project using mobile technology to promote citizens’ e-participation in their city’s public life.

Professor Jeffrey Sachs, UN Secretary General’s Adviser on the SDGs, and Minister Karen Ellemann, Danish Minister for Equal Opportunities, launched the report during a two-day forum on youth and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) at the United Nations Headquarters in New York. The report was produced in partnership with Ashoka, Sustainia, the Resolution Project and Panorama (joint initiative of IUCN and the German government) and has been reviewed by a panel of experts, comprising leading figures from business, civil society and academia.

Paul Polman, CEO of Unilever, has supported the initiative. “SDSN Youth and its Youth Solutions Report are excellent examples of initiatives crucial for helping young people realize the full potential of their abilities, innovations and solutions.”

“Today we have the largest generation of youth in history - a powerful force for change. 84 percent of millennials are convinced they have a duty to make the world a better place, and many already are, through socially aware businesses and youth-led campaigns in support of the Sustainable Development Goals.” Mr Polman said.

Siamak Sam Loni, Global Coordinator of SDSN Youth, says that young people must be seen as key stakeholders in the sustainable development debate and that there is a pressing need to acknowledge their essential role in achieving the SDGs.

“Young people are already contributing to the implementation of the SDGs but they face common challenges that prevent them from realizing the full potential of their ideas and solutions, including the lack of visibility, limited access to finance, and the lack of training and technical support. The Youth Solutions Report will help investors, donors and supporters better understand the multi-faceted role of young people in sustainable development and give them additional opportunities to showcase and scale their work.” Mr Loni said.

For more information on the Youth Solutions Report visit:

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The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are a set of 17 goals included in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, which was launched at UN Headquarters in September 2015 and adopted by 193 member countries of the UN. The SDGs, which are relevant to all countries, aim to achieve social inclusion, economic prosperity and environmental sustainability.

SDSN was launched by UN Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon, in 2012 to mobilize global scientific and technological expertise to promote practical problem solving for sustainable development, including the design and implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

SDSN Youth is the youth initiative of UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network, focused on empowering youth globally to create sustainable development solutions. SDSN Youth educates young people about the challenges of sustainable development and creates opportunities for them to use their creativity and knowledge to pioneer innovative solutions for the SDGs.

LifeCradle by Malav Sanghavi from India and Evaporative Cooling Vest by Jordan Imahori from Canada are the winning solutions of the Vatican Youth Symposium, an event organized by SDSN Youth and the Pontifical Academy of Science (PAS) which has seen 48 delegates from more than 30 countries showcasing their innovative solutions for the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals. As best solutions awarded, these projects will be presented at the Low Emissions Solutions Conference during the Conference of Parties (COP22) and will be featured in a special section of the Youth Solutions Report.

Malav Sanghavi won the first place in the ranking with his LifeCradle, a social enterprise aimed to reduce World’s Infant Mortality rate in under-developed and developing countries like India, Africa and Latin America which still suffer for absence of neonatal care due to the huge equipment costs and inconsistency of electricity. Focusing on resolving these problems LifeCradle is actually developing a low cost, cardboard baby incubator, which provides basic facilities (like warmth, clean environment and monitoring) for the child's survival in the first few critical days of its life. The base made up of cardboard is designed to function as a make-shift cot for the child once it leaves neonatal care, providing it with adequate, hygienic living conditions at home. The lid, which contains all the technology, is reused for next child's LifeCradle. LifeCradle aims to reach the market in beginning of 2018 and to address the SDG 3‘Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages’ and SDG 9 ‘Build resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialization and foster innovation.’

At the second place the Vatican Youth Symposium has awarded Jordan Imahori with his solution Evaporative Cooling Vest, an innovative under-development product by Aegis, a nonprofit organization, which aims to reduce heat-related deaths and medical complications in the construction industries of countries where severe heat-stress is a workplace hazard. The cooling vests use the evaporation of water to cool the user and are capable of reducing the impact of high temperatures on the wearer’s health. These vests incorporate the features of traditional high-visibility construction vests and are certified to ISO, ANSI, OEKO, and REACH standards, allowing workers to wear them in lieu of regular safety equipment. In April 2016, Aegis received funding from the University of Toronto to carry out pilot testing of product design in Qatar, which showcase that vests are effective in reducing the dangerous effect of heat on the body. This solution, which is currently focused on reaching the market of Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) member states, is addressed to SDG 8 and in details target number 8.8., which indeed states ‘protect labor rights and promote safe and secure working environments for all workers, especially migrant worker, particularly women workers, and those in precarious employment.’

The two winning solutions, announced by Siamak Sam Loni (Global Coordinator of SDSN Youth) during the Closing Ceremony Dinner of the Vatican Youth Symposium, have been selected, among the 10 finalists of the event, by a panel of judges chaired by SDSN experts, SDSN Youth and their partners including: Bishop Marcelo Sánchez Sorondo (Chancellor, Pontifical Academy of Sciences), Dr. Betsee Parker (Special Advisor to the UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network), Professor Jeffrey Sachs (Director, UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network & Special Advisor to United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon on the SDGs), Gabriella Marino (Pontifical Accademy of Sciences) Anthony Annett (Climate Change and Sustainable Development Advisor to the UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network) Siamak Sam Loni (Global Coordinator, UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network Youth), Virgilio Viana (Chair SDSN Amazonia), Serena Kao (Chair - UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network Singapore), Katarzyna Dembska (Researcher - Barilla Center for Food and Nutrition Foundation).

The solutions awarded are a clear signal that the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals is possible by investing in the creativity and commitment of youngster as well as leveraging on technological solutions able to boost the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Cooperation among young leaders from a range of cultures and various disciplines such as tech, advocacy, research and policy is for sure one of the key aspects for a successful achievement of the SDGs. In this regard the Vatican Youth Symposium has been a crucial opportunity to build up networks by means of which youth can share their own ideas and to feed the global debate on sustainable development.

Andrea Zucca and Fabrizio Saladini attended the Vatican Youth Symposium for the SDSN Youth delegation. All opinions expressed on the blog are the opinions of the author, and not that of SDSN Youth


El Simposio supuso una experiencia extraordinaria de intercambio de ideas, trabajo en equipo, aprendizaje y puesta en marcha de proyectos. Se necesita a la juventud más que nunca, su creatividad, su pasión y su idealismo, y se ha de entender que estos jóvenes no son únicamente los líderes del futuro, sino los agentes del cambio en el presente. Por ellos y para ellos este Simposio ha significado un primer paso en un camino que ayudará a convertir este mundo en un lugar mejor.

Isabel Pérez Dobarro es la Mánager de TWENTY THIRTY, la nueva iniciativa de SDSN Youth que une a las artes con los ODS. Todas las opiniones expresadas en este blog son de exclusiva responsabilidad de la autora y no necesariamente representan las de  SDSN Youth. 


In the face of mounting global warming, solar power is in a unique position to cut global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions while simultaneously meeting the energy demands of a growing population. In line with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), solar power can help bring light and power to more than one billion people worldwide that currently live in poverty and without access to electricity. Indeed, the International Energy Agency (IEA) projects that by 2050 solar electricity could account for up to 20 to 25% of global electricity production.

Last year, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) published a report on the future of solar energy through its Energy Initiative, a hub for energy research, education and outreach. The study is the latest in MIT’s ‘Future Of’ series and sheds light on a range of complex and important issues involving solar energy and the environment.

Though recent years have seen a rapid growth in installed solar capacity and advances in innovation, efficiency, and cost, additional improvements are still required for solar power to take off. The report identifies critical measures for accelerating the innovation and deployment of solar power. Two are below:

      I.         Among the different solar technologies, crystalline silicon (c-Si) is the most mature and cost-competitive. Though improvements are still being pursued by businesses and technology developers, the limitations of c-Si have led to research into thin-film PV alternatives. These technologies have the potential to provide superior performance while also being based on environmentally benign and earth-abundant materials. A greater share of public funding should target these technologies.


     II.         Established grid networks are not designed to handle large shares of renewable energy generation, especially when power also flows from customers and decentralised settings back to the network. This identifies a self-limiting aspect of solar power: high levels of penetration may lead to increased operating costs and even to problems maintaining grid reliability. This highlights the importance of developing smart grids and energy storage technologies as part of an integrated strategy for achieving economical large-scale PV deployment.

As the graph below indicates, solar power has declined rapidly in cost - from $76 per watt in 1977 to $0.74 per watt in 2013. Though solar energy is currently already competitive with dirty sources of energy in some parts of the world, a few more years of innovation and cost reduction will lead to solar being too cheap and competitive to ignore. Even the SunShot Initiative by the U.S. Department of Energy (DoE), which seeks to make solar energy cost-competitive with other forms of electricity by the end of the decade, projects futures in which the cost of solar technologies decrease by 75% between 2010 and 2020.



Despite this sharp decline in the cost of solar energy, major scale-ups in the decades to come will depend on the solar industry’s ability to overcome several hurdles, including cost and the availability of novel technologies. A key conclusion of the MIT report is that without government policies to help overcome these challenges, through a price on carbon emissions, for example, it is likely that solar energy will continue to supply only a small percentage of the world’s electricity needs. Without a carbon price, the cost of reducing emissions and achieving the SDGs will be higher. The bottom line: widespread solar energy requires entrepreneurs and innovators, but also action from policymakers. 

Julian Payne is a Project Officer for Research and Policy at SDSN Youth. All opinions expressed on the blog are the opinion of the authors and not of SDSN Youth.