Last week, while countless world leaders made traditional speeches to the UN General Assembly, a group of real change makers were nearby pitching their innovative technologies and programs, and challenging the world to scale actual solutions to our greatest challenges. The UN Solutions Summit, hosted at the UN’s SDG Media Zone, was a breath of fresh air for anyone serious about addressing climate change, poverty or most of the world’s most pressing problems. The entrepreneurs were dynamic, committed and focused on transformational change in a way that many of our world leaders are not.
Launched in 2015, the UN Solutions Summit showcases entrepreneurial solutions helping to achieve the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals(SDG’s). The SDG’s are 17 goals that were ratified by the United Nations and its 193-member countries in 2015 and include the elimination of poverty, gender equality, improved global health and fighting climate change, among other things. At their best, the goals represent a global consensus and commitment to making the world a much better place and uplifting billions of people.
But the status quo will not achieve the Goals – any of them. According to the UN’s own Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), the world needs to invest an additional $2.5 trillion beyond what it is currently spending on global development in order for the Goals to be met.
If the world is to meet these Global Goals, it is far more likely to do so through innovation and successful entrepreneurs than finding another $2.5 trillion in the sofas of the UN, World Bank, USAID or DFID. Innovation brings cost reductions, efficiency, and brand-new solutions to the world. Entrepreneurs figure out how to successfully grow and scale those solutions to create change and economic value. Global organizations, such as the United Nations, multinationals and philanthropy, enable that scale through funding, partnerships and policy change.
The Solutions Summit team received over 1000 applications from startups, NGOs and social enterprises around the world. After a participatory and careful evaluation, these amazing groups presented their solutions to the world.