The United Nations have come together on a 15-year plan to reach 17 different goals relating to sustainable development. These goals aren’t typical bullet points; they’re world-changing desires such as ending poverty, gender equality, ending hunger, and more. It requires everyone working together, and UNLEASH, a global innovation lab for sustainable development, hopes to boost that with a nine-day event of a thousand unique people creating solutions to make it all happen.
UNLEASH will have their inaugural innovation lab beginning on Sunday in Denmark. Spread out in three different segments, 1,000 millennials will first gather in Copenhagen to meet with representatives from innovative companies to gain further inspiration. Hollywood actor Ashton Kutcher headlines the many speakers at the event. Kutcher’s recent headlines have included a powerful speech on his anti-sex trafficking efforts and his investment in many startups.
There are seven different themes that groups of millennials from over 115 countries (generally between the ages of 20 and 35) will be separated in: water, food, energy, sustainable production and consumption, education, urban sustainability, and health. All these groups will be identifying specific problems and coming up with real-world solutions over a four-day period in 10 Folk High Schools.
Afterwards, there will be three days spent on presenting these solutions in Aarhus with an awards show following that highlights the best ideas. Lance Gould, who oversees content and social media at UNLEASH, explains that these groups will be judged in a Shark Tank-like setting. Presentations that excel in “originality but also executability” will be given the spotlight in each theme.
One of the most exciting aspects is the diversity of talents that will be represented. Gould also created the UNLEASH Lab channel on Medium, giving young people an opportunity to blog their thoughts on the upcoming event and ideas they currently have. He gave some examples of who will be working on these solutions.
“When you look at the astonishing backgrounds they bring to the table -- like an Estonian woman advocating for veganism, a Kenyan journalist making waves by reporting on gender-based violence...I just can't wait to see what they come up with.”
Why is there a focus on bringing millennials to Denmark for the event? Because the innovation lab believes it’s extremely important to get young people thinking about Sustainable Development Goals right out of the gate. “If we don't involve youth, it will be a missed opportunity, and this is their future we're talking about,” Gould says. It could also provide a different angle, educating those established in the government and private sector that are working toward the same goal.
UNLEASH hopes to “disrupt conventional solutions and create a better and more sustainable world.” The first-of-its-kind event chose Denmark for the location as most of the backers are from the area, but the organization hopes to make it an annual event in different cities. “Leading contenders for next year are San Francisco and London,” Gould says.
You can follow UNLEASH on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn to keep up with the updates at the inaugural event.