United Nations Global Compact marks the completion of its inaugural round of Young SDG Innovators

New York, NY, United States of America

Innovation accelerator programme for young professionals sees 130 companies delivering more than 80 SDG business solutions
UNITED NATIONS, New York, 25 June 2020 — The United Nations Global Compact reached a significant milestone in closing the successful first round of its Young SDG Innovators Programme, the first of its global engagement programmes run by Global Compact Local Networks around the world.

The Young SDG Innovators Programme is a ten-month innovation accelerator for the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) designed for young business professionals. The programme engages participants to rethink the business models of their companies by guiding them through a series of action learning workshops and providing opportunities to access and apply learnings from global leaders on the SDGs and innovation.

More than 480 programme participants from 130 companies across ten countries took part in the programme, which focused on working together to unlock new market opportunities while delivering on the SDGs. Over the course of ten months, more than 80 SDG business solutions were identified and developed through new products, services and initiatives ranging from circular economy, inclusive finance, universal public health, land reforestation and carbon emissions reduction.

Reflecting on the value of the programme, UN Global Compact CEO & Executive Director Sanda Ojiambo said, “The global COVID-19 pandemic — on top of all the social, environmental and economic challenges we are seeing across the world — only highlights how important it is to give voice to those calling for change and looking to disrupt existing systems that are failing so many around the world. Business must play a role in this change agenda. Now more than ever, we need to embrace fresh thinking and breakthrough mindsets and turn to the next generation for new ideas and innovation because the world is in need of a new type of energy and leadership for the future.”

To mark the completion of the inaugural round of the programme, the UN Global Compact, together with its partners, held a global virtual celebration event on 8 June to commemorate the graduation of the first cohort of Young SDG Innovators. The Tuborg Foundation, which is based in Denmark and has funded the programme since its launch, was present at the event. In her keynote remarks at the celebration event, Tuborg Foundation Chairwoman Anne-Marie Skov said, “I cannot think of a better way to support young people to build a better and more resilient future than exactly what we have seen in the Young SDG Innovators Programme, a programme specifically geared towards young professionals in UN Global Compact participating companies, throughout the world, with the aim of building their capacity, especially towards addressing the Sustainable Development goals as a coming framework. It has been great to see that big international companies as well as start-ups have identified their young talents for the programme and great to experience the engagement and drive among so many young change agents.”

Young professionals and programme participants from all ten countries also had the opportunity to share their insights, solutions and breakthrough ideas at the UN Global Compact 20th Anniversary Leaders Summit, where more than 50 sessions and panels dedicated to the programme were featured over the course of the two-day event on 15 and 16 June.

The Young SDG Innovators Programme will kick off its second round in November 2020 and expand to six new countries: Canada, India, Kenya, Nigeria, Norway and the Philippines, bringing the total number of countries where the programme is taking place to 16.

The Young SDG Innovators Programme has been funded by the Tuborg Foundation since 2019 as part of an ongoing three-year collaboration between the UN Global Compact and the Tuborg Foundation aimed at young people who work with strategy, innovation, entrepreneurship and new forms of business, and young professionals with an interest in this work.


As a special initiative of the UN Secretary-General, the United Nations Global Compact is a call to companies everywhere to align their operations and strategies with ten universal principles in the areas of human rights, labour, environment and anti-corruption. Launched in 2000, the mandate of the UN Global Compact is to guide and support the global business community in advancing UN goals and values through responsible corporate practices. With more than 10,000 companies and 3,000 non-business signatories based in over 160 countries, and more than 60 Local Networks, it is the largest corporate sustainability initiative in the world. 

For more information, follow @globalcompact on social media and visit our website at unglobalcompact.org.