Press releases

Global youth accelerator programme launched by UN small business, UN land restoration agencies: COP28

4 December 2023
ITC News

(Dubai) – Green-minded young entrepreneurs are set to benefit from the launch of a global accelerator programme launched by the UN small business agency, the International Trade Centre (ITC), the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) and the G20 Global Land Initiative, on the first-ever Trade Day of the UN Climate Change Conference (COP28) in Dubai.

The programme is designed to build the skills and networks of youth-led green enterprises with a focus on developing countries, particularly those focused on land restoration, to advance global environmental sustainability. Plans are to support 1,700 young ecopreneurs over the next five years.

Those interested in participating in the Ye! Youth Ecopreneur Programme can express interest here to receive notifications when the call for applications launches in February 2024. The programme is also open to additional partnerships, for interested organizations to join.

Recognizing excellence

The Programme builds on the Youth Ecopreneurs Awards held during the ITC flagship event, the World Export Development Forum 2023, in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia.

Finalists and winners of these Awards have benefited from a suite of support provided by ITC, UNCCD and other partners, including the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), Google's Startups for Sustainable Development and the multinational law firm Sidley Austin.

Mashrur Shurid, winner in the land restoration category for his Bangladeshi agri-tech firm iPAGE, recently secured $110,000 in funding, citing the credibility lent by the Youth Ecopreneur Awards as a key factor in this achievement.

Investing in youth-led green enterprises

The Programme will revolve around five key areas:

Global Bootcamp and Global Accelerator: Providing essential skills and seed funding for young entrepreneurs to scale their businesses.

Youth Ecopreneur Awards: Recognizing and encouraging outstanding youth-led businesses.

Ye! Community: Through capacity building, mentorship, resource-sharing and targeted networking opportunities, the Ye! Community nurtures individual talent and spurs collective action.

Ecosystem Strengthening: Building a robust network of stakeholders committed to sustainability.

Advocacy and Awareness: The Programme recognizes the role of young ecopreneurs as agents of change. It will leverage tangible solutions of ecopreneurs to inspire the wider population and champion sustainable production and consumption.

Through this holistic approach, the Programme aims to equip young leaders with the tools and platforms needed to scale their eco-conscious and environmentally friendly enterprises.

Strengthening partnerships

ITC Executive Director Pamela Coke-Hamilton said: ‘Youth are the future, and climate change is the defining issue of our time. Through this new accelerator programme, building on the good work we’ve done with our partners, young entrepreneurs with green solutions will gain the information, skills and networks they need to create a more sustainable and inclusive world.’

UNCCD Executive Secretary Ibrahim Thiaw said: ‘I am delighted to join forces with ITC to develop an accelerator programme for youth ecopreneurs. While land degradation is a major environmental challenge that will require billions of dollars to restore, it also opens up opportunities for businesses to innovate and create green jobs. Training 1,700 “landpreneurs” over the next five years will hopefully present the youth with a model to be applied in the future.’

WIPO Assistant Director General Edward Kwakwa said, ‘In 2023, we witnessed the inspiring potential of partnerships, as ITC and WIPO joined forces to empower youth in innovation and entrepreneurship. I encourage each of you to stand alongside us, amplifying your support for initiatives such as the Ecopreneur Awards. Together, we can pave the way for enduring and transformative progress for our planet.’

Nicolas Lockhart, co-leader of Sidley’s Emerging Enterprises Programme, said, ‘The Youth Ecopreneur Programme aligns with Sidley’s commitment to supporting the next generation of businesses committed to sustainable development, with tailored pro bono legal services and capacity-building support on legal matters. Our collaboration with ITC is highly valued, and together, we are dedicated to promoting innovative youth-led enterprises that have a meaningful impact on our planet and communities.’


Notes for the editor:

About the International Trade Centre (ITC): The International Trade Centre is the joint agency of the World Trade Organization and the United Nations. ITC assists small and medium-sized enterprises in developing and transition economies to become more competitive in global markets, thereby contributing to sustainable economic development within the frameworks of the Aid-for-Trade agenda and the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals.

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Media Contact:

Susanna Pak
Senior Strategic Communications Officer
International Trade Centre
E: pak [at] (pak[at]intracen[dot]org)