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Championing local development through the Indigenous Youth Campaign

Championing local development through the Indigenous Youth Campaign

In war-torn Marawi City in the Philippines, a group of young people personally affected by the past conflict work with displaced persons in their community to produce traditional handicrafts; in Myanmar, an undergraduate student provides a market for women in her hometown to produce and sell traditional mats. As young social entrepreneurs, their goal is to empower their communities through economic opportunities. But as members of indigenous groups, they are also actively preserving traditions and practices that are under threat of extinction.

These are just some of the projects led by young indigenous people, who are gathering in Bangkok from 20-22 January 2020 to take part in the Regional Dialogue on Indigenous Youth Social Entrepreneurship, which is a part of UNDP’s Youth Co:Lab initiative. The regional programme empowers youth in the Asia-Pacific to develop skills needed to grow and manage successful social enterprises. The event will bring together 20 young indigenous entrepreneurs representing nine countries in the region.

The event is a part of a larger effort by UNDP, UNESCO and the Asia Indigenous People’s Pact (AIPP) to enable young people to come together and develop the skills needed to address issues faced by their communities.

Around the world, young activists and social entrepreneurs are stepping up to protect indigenous communities, cultures, traditions and knowledge systems. These young leaders recognize that mobilizing indigenous people and knowledge is vital to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

Indigenous peoples today are arguably among the most disadvantaged and vulnerable groups in the world. They are the inheritors and practitioners of unique cultures and complex systems of knowledge. They have sought recognition of their identities, their way of life and their right to traditional lands, territories and natural resources for years, yet throughout history, their rights have consistently been violated.

Youth Co:Lab positions young people front and center in order to solve the region’s most pressing challenges. Co-created in 2017 by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the Citi Foundation, Youth Co:Lab aims to establish a common agenda for countries in the Asia-Pacific region to empower and invest in youth, so that they can accelerate the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) through leadership, social innovation and entrepreneurship.