The second edition of the Youth Solutions Report, which identifies 50 youth-led projects that aim to solve the world’s toughest issues, was released Tuesday in New York during a launch event at the headquarters of the Sustainable Development Solutions Network.
The solutions, which come from 61 countries and operate across all continents and regions, address crucial sustainable development issues such as clean energy, education, digitalization, e-participation, access to healthcare, ecosystem restoration, sustainable agriculture and waste.
Like its 2017 predecessor, this year’s Youth Solutions Report provides these initiatives with a powerful platform to secure funding, build capacity, communicate experiences and scale efforts. The 2018 edition also includes in-depth analysis of the multiple challenges facing youth-led innovation for the SDGs, and proposes a set of concrete recommendations for all stakeholders that can help create more integrated ecosystems of support for young changemakers.
Here are just a few of this year’s youth solutions:
- Sheep wool insulation to improve housing for displaced Syrians (Lebanon) — Use of sheep wool as insulator supports local farmers and empowers the women in the process, enhancing community resilience and gender equality, among other benefits.
- HowtUyoga (Italy) — training Tanzanian coffee farmers on the creation and management of a plant (“uyoga” means “mushroom” in Kiswahili) that would allow the reuse of organic waste resulting from coffee farming to produce mushroom self-cultivation kits. Goals include reuse of agricultural waste, the diversification of agricultural products, increased income for local farmers, better food and health coverage due to improved micronutrient intake, and access to renewable energy sources.
- Converting brownfield sites to aquaponic systems (Italy) — promotes the dissemination of self-sufficient aquaponic gardening systems by upgrading unused urban spaces, for the production of edible and sustainable vegetables and fish.
- Think.it (Germany) — by connecting young Tunisian and North African tech talent to full-time positions in international firms without having to leave the country, it combats high youth unemployment and fights the flight of skilled labor due to inequality in access to opportunity, both intractable problems that have long plagued the region.
- Barsha Pump (The Netherlands) — a hydro-powered water pump that lifts water from rivers/canals by only using the energy of flowing water; it does not require fuel or electricity to operate, so there are no harmful emissions. The Barsha Pump and the offered payment mechanisms allow resource-constrained smallholder farmers to access irrigation technology, key to cash cropping and making a good salary. The Barsha Pump also allows farmers to grow high water-demanding crops, which diversify their diets along with the diets of the people in the surrounding villages.
- Mealflour (Guatemala) — while many nutrition programs provide imported nutritional supplements, MealFlour focuses on edible insects as a way to empower families and communities to grow their own source of protein — mealworms — at home. This reduces dependency on NGOs and charities, improves nutrition, and can increase families’ income if they choose to sell excess mealworm powder.
- ImpactEd (USA) — How might universities provide students with a relevant education in a rapidly evolving economy? ImpactEd is a marketplace of real-world projects for college students designed in collaboration with leading employers and delivered in college courses through a digital workspace, making it easy for students to gain skills and experience that is relevant for career success in the 21st century. Each project is also related to one or more SDGs, enabling students to contribute towards solving the most pressing social, economic and environmental challenges in their geography and field of study.
- Proyecto Agua Segura (Argentina) — Today in Argentina more than the 17 percent of the population does not have access to clean water and 50 percent does not have access to sanitation. PAS works in rural, peri rural, isolated and marginalized communities, installing technology allowing immediate access to good quality water in schools and homes; and developing educational exchanges that promote healthy hygiene habits and water care.
Forest Whitaker, UNESCO Special Envoy for Peace and Reconciliation and Founder and CEO of the Whitaker Peace & Development Initiative, said that young people are doers whose talent to spark positive change is yet to be fully recognized.
“The Youth Solutions Report is a great platform to showcase the capacity of young women and men for creativity and innovation,” Whitaker said. “Taken together, the brilliant solutions featured in the Report contain a call to future action, an invitation to trust youth as frontrunners both in the present and in the future. We need to provide young people with tools and opportunities so that they can — and they will — come up with their own solutions to address problems that arise in their environment."
Siamak Sam Loni, Global Coordinator of SDSN Youth, added that while young people are already contributing to the implementation of the SDGs, they still face common challenges that prevent them from realizing the full potential, including the lack of visibility, limited access to finance, and the lack of training and technical support.
“The 2018 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,” Loni asserted.