Innovation towards a sustainable future: how young people are accelerating social impact


Young Pioneers Forum at UNESCAP Asia-Pacific Forum on Sustainable Development (APFSD) 2022

Our speakers: Tom XH Wang, Issin Kobayashi, Yizhen Shi, Nicholas Su and Aryan Trehan

Our speakers: Tom XH Wang, Issin Kobayashi, Yizhen Shi, Nicholas Su and Aryan Trehan

Tom XH Wang, Issin Kobayashi, Yizhen Shi, Nicholas Su, Aryan Trehan

UN APFSD Young Pioneers Event 2022: Solutions Challenge

Five students from across Asia-Pacific presented their ideas and solutions on how youth-led initiatives can have real environmental, economic and social impact.

New Oriental Education (SEHK:9901.HK)

To rebuild our education systems, we must first focus on empowering youth leadership in achieving impact!

— Ms. Armida Salsiah Alisjahbana, Executive Secretary, UN ESCAP

HONG KONG, CHINA, May 2, 2022 / — “Building Back Better from COVID-19 while advancing the full implementation of the 2030 Agenda in Asia and the Pacific” is the 2022 theme of the Asia Forum -UNESCAP Pacific on Sustainable Development (APFSD). Led by UNESCAP with support from 10 UN agencies, APFSD is an annual, inclusive intergovernmental forum and regional platform to support countries.

One of the strengths of APFSD is the Youth Agenda – a dynamic and interactive platform for youth solutions to be expressed and heard, and a place to help young changemakers and future leaders to action.

During the UN APFSD Young Pioneers Forum, a panel entitled “Innovation towards a sustainable future: how young people are accelerating social impact” was organised. Five high school students from Asia-Pacific presented their ideas and solutions on how youth-led initiatives can have real environmental, economic and social impact in the region. Here are some highlights:

I. On the design and development of smart city solutions

“It’s exciting to hear brilliant ideas and discuss them with young people from all over the world. I am honored to share my ideas on sustainable cities in the field of city transport systems, a project that combines urban studies with computer science. Hearing of innovative solutions and projects from peers around the world, I further realize that we need a global institute to take it to the next level and provide a stage for youth-led actions towards a blueprint for future frontiers of the smart city. GSCI provides a platform for young people to express themselves and cooperate in urban studies. We hope that GSCI will take responsibility for inspiring and uniting the next generation by leading a common effort towards forward-thinking smart city solutions. I believe that young collectives can make a difference!

Mr. Tom XH Wang, Founder of Global Smart City Institute (GSCI) Y20 and 11th grade student at Shanghai Foreign Language School (China)

II. On the localization of smart energy systems in rural areas

“Presenting SunLIT to the UN APFSD Youth Panel was an honor, seeing other youth projects from across Asia was inspiring, and connecting with brilliant minds across the continent opened up the potential for collaboration and of innovation.

I hope my story can inspire young people in Asia to actively work on the issues they want to see solved in their home communities. SunLIT is currently launching its pilot project and raising funds to light up villages in India. I encourage anyone interested in my work and wanting to get involved or learn more to contact me on LinkedIn!

Mr. Aryan Trehan, Founder of SunLIT and 11th grade student at Rajhans Vidyalaya (Mumbai, India)

III. On promoting gender equality in quality education

“It’s quite encouraging and exciting to speak in this panel. It shows that as the next generation to take over, our voices are being heard. This youth panel is really an important step in my journey to explore the UN SDGs. Seeing so many young people for causes sharing our ideas for making our community a better place, I felt more motivated to keep going.

I hope more young people will join my project, which seeks educational opportunities for young girls in the Asia-Pacific region, anyone who is committed to promoting quality education will be a great help!

Ms. Yizhen Shi, Core Team Member of Project Spark and Grade 11 student at Victoria Junior College (Singapore).

IV. Organize youth-themed conferences to accelerate knowledge transfer

“Hearing other young voices taking action and advocating for change at the forum was an amazing experience! I spoke about the role of collaborative research, diversity in STEM and accessible education in our efforts for the sustainable development, in connection with my research project which focuses on the chemical synthesis of the new penicillin, as well as the Global STEM Student Conferences, a free online science communication and collaboration platform offering a variety of opportunities STEM around our conference to all high school students.

In the future, our efforts today would build a world that minimizes human suffering, where our research gives everyone access to clean energy, where preventable diseases do not afflict vulnerable countries, where our future generations can experience the wonder and beauty of the world. I would like to use this platform to encourage my fellow young people to make the most of the resources they have, to bring about change in the aspect of the world that interests you. If you have an idea, go for it.

Mr. Nicholas Su, founder of Global Student STEM Conferences and research student at Wellington College International Shanghai (China)

V. On providing clean water and energy solutions

“The UN APFSD Youth Panel has been a great platform and opportunity for me to present my ideas, as well as hear ideas and projects from others who have the same interests and goals as me. The ideas I presented are still being worked on, but I plan to raise awareness about clean water and energy issues in Japan while taking action on the issue itself. Young people in Asia can get involved by actively learning about these issues in order to highlight the issue to people other than those interested in these topics.

Mr. Issin Kobayashi, graduate of Stanford e-Entrepreneurship program and 10th year student at Mita International School (Japan)

The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development ensures that the appropriate means of implementation (finance, trade, capacity building and/or science, technology and innovation) have been considered in the formulation of almost all the SDGs, and young people play a key role on this front. The means of implementation for the 2030 Agenda should also include commitments to address systemic issues, including policy and institutional coherence, multi-stakeholder partnerships, data, monitoring and accountability – all of which are addressed as part of the work of ESCAP. Young people, including the global Young Pioneers community of KIDsforSDGs, should continue to be encouraged and empowered to contribute to global means-of-implementation processes, including science, technology, innovation and financing the development, and to accelerate sustainable social impact.

Jason Cohen
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UN APFSD Young Pioneers Forum 2022 – Innovation towards a sustainable future: how young people are accelerating social impact


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