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Dario Piselli

Project Lead, Solutions Team

What convinced me to apply to join SDSN Youth was the realization that there is no 'perfect' time to put your competences to the service of the public good.

As a young student who was already skilled and passionate about sustainable development, I felt that opportunities to contribute at a higher level were always limited to more senior professionals, and questioned the practicality of being involved at that stage of my life. I had been working with SDSN Mediterranean for 3 years, and saw the creation of SDSN Youth in emphasising the role of youth in the context of the SDGs as a great opportunity to change the narrative.

At first I wanted to head into research and policy work at SDSN Youth, because I was interested in the idea of influencing policy-making on these issues. However, upon second thought, 

I realized that despite my impression of this space being only for high-level and political discussions, that the core of entrepreneurship and innovation is to disrupt the status quo, that we could help unlock the potential of millions of innovators, entrepreneurs and leaders around the world. 

We could completely transform the perception of young people’s role in promoting human well-being in sustainable economic development. We could carve out our own space to lead and make change. 


So not only was it an area that needed to be addressed in the Sustainable Development space, but it also provided an interesting challenge for me professionally, moving into a different sector and a different way of thinking. 


Over time, the Solutions Program has continued to grow, and experiment. We transitioned from a piecemeal approach, to supporting individual projects and endeavours, to a systematic attempt to build innovation systems that understand the specific challenges facing young people and how to solve them with the help of the public and private sectors alike.

I think one of the most important qualities for my role, is being able to lead and work with my team, reminding them the vision behind the Solutions team, and how we need to go beyond the idea that we are just helping some innovator scale up their project. We need to conceive our work as that of system-builders, who are not just creating opportunities of financing and technical support but also promoting fundamental change in how our leaders perceive young people’s role in society, and to lift them up as partners and collaborators. 

Transmitting the idea of responsibility and commitment, or as I see it, an international civil service is at the centre of my idea of empowerment for my team. I want my team of volunteers from around the world, feel like they are part of something unique, and enable them to be proactive and independent in their work. 

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The first Youth Solutions Report was an incredible achievement, we never thought that a small team would be able to gather so many interesting solutions, assemble world-renowned experts to review, find a consistent and effective way to present the product to the UN world, and receive so many endorsements from high-level individuals. When we doubled down with the second edition, we were sure that the Youth Solutions Program had emerged as one of the most trusted global partners in the space of social entrepreneurship and youth-led innovation. The growth in our international standing and the connections that we have created attest to our success.

Witnessing the actual impact of our support to innovators, with some sharing the growth of their projects on social media or reaching out to tell us how our brand and help have helped them, is truly invaluable. Seeing our innovators succeed in financing, growth, partnerships, or just the real impact they make around the world, really emphasizes that we are at the forefront of startups in sustainable development. 

Young people do not want to wait generations for global challenges like poverty, hunger, discrimination, and climate change to be fully addressed. Young people want to make change. They want to take action now, and not just sit on the sidelines. This is why the Youth Solutions Program seeks to overcome existing barriers to youth-led innovation.


Does the Solutions team seem like a project you want to work in? Take a look at our volunteer opeinings below!