04.05.2013 - UNESCO Office in Beirut

Debate on climate change, social inclusion and youth innovation in the Arab States

Gathering Young Entrepreneurs from 6 countries, together with representatives from NGOs and several UN Agencies in Lebanon, a 2-Day regional workshop, held in Beirut, on 25-26 April 2013, addressed three important challenges faced in the Arab region: climate change, social inclusion and youth innovation.

While climate change has been recognized as a global problem for almost 20 years, the issue has been mainly approached from a natural science perspective. It is getting urgently more relevant to understand the complexity, inter-connectedness and sensitivity of the interfaces of social systems and ecosystems.

As many studies have shown that the impact of climate change differs between regions affecting people differently according to gender, generations, classes, income groups and occupations based on their sensitivity and adaptive capacity and therefore their vulnerability.

How youth innovation can approach to this issue in the Arab region? What is the social responsibility of the business sector in the policy dialogue on sustainable development?

These questions – a lot of others - were at the heart of a 2-Days regional workshop organized by the UNESCO’s Office in Beirut, in partnership with UNIDO and  Berytech, Altcity and Beyond R & D, on 25 and 26 April 2013, in Lebanon.

Twenty young entrepreneurs below 35 years, went from 6 Arab countries (Algeria, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon and Yemen), attended this event, most of whom are also regional shortlisted competitors of the “Global Social Venture Competition (GSVC) in 2013. Initiated in 1999 by Haas School of Business-UC Berkeley, GSVC aims to stimulate social entrepreneurship, provide international support and expertise to social entrepreneurs, contributing to the development of successful social businesses. The selection of regional competitors was coordinated by Berytech, a technopole and business incubator based in Lebanon.

Together with social and green entrepreneurs, activists from Lebanese NGOs and representatives from several UN agencies, these young entrepreneurs reflected, during two days, on their socially inclusive way of business in the time of climate change through sharing good practices, lessons learnt and perspectives. “All the green cities in the word, stakeholders share a vision and a goal to reach. It is about a leadership of political leaders but all citizens and business leaders are responsible”, said Gilbert Tegho, from Eco-Solutions, Lebanon. As others participants, he thinks that youth innovation promoting social inclusiveness will have an eventual impact on the society through effective networking and policy process.

“The key to sustain social inclusiveness within our business is a strict monitoring with clear indicators. This the only way to ensure the targeted percentage of profits go to our famers and women workers, directly”, said Christine Kodsi, Co-Founder of Souk el-Taieb, Lebanon.

Among the young participants to this regional workshop, Mohamed Amin Aboura, a young Algerian entrepreneur of an online healthcare platform, and Hala Samaha, a young Lebanese entrepreneur of an eco-village, were the first to recognize that the lessons learnt and the case studies explored during this workshop triggered their further thinking to make their business to be more socially inclusive and responsible.

One can think that the others young participants also acquired the same conviction about the need for getting bargains in a more inclusive and responsible way, since they decided to establish a network of young Arab entrepreneurs which  will be playing a role in disseminating, in the Arab region, the forthcoming “World Social Science Report” on Social impact of the Climate Change, to be published at the beginning of the second semester 2013  with the support of UNESCO.

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