Cover photo
Photo credit: Brooklyn Prewett
22 June 2023

Young philanthropists and UN join forces for global change

For the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic, philanthropists from the Nexus organization came to UNHQ as part of the organization’s annual meeting.

For the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic, philanthropists from the NEXUS organization came to UN Headquarters in New York as part of the organization’s annual meeting, to exchange ideas and learn more about addressing some of the world’s most pressing problems.

The briefing, a lively affair that took place in a packed conference room on 22 June, was an opportunity for some 500 young investors and social entrepreneurs to hear directly from senior UN officials on the importance of building effective, innovative partnerships involving all sectors of society, and the role that the philanthropic sector can play.

In her opening remarks, Annemarie Hou, Executive Director of the UN Office for Partnerships (UNOP), underlined the scale of the challenge that needs to be tackled, if there is to be any hope of achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Photo of Annemarie Hou
Photo credit: Brooklyn Prewett

“With only a small percentage of the Global Goals on track, we may be down at halftime, but the good news is any given match is won in the second half”, said Ms. Hou. “So, let’s imagine winning together. To all NEXUS members, I thank you for your commitment and efforts to generate change on a global scale.”

Representatives from UN Women, the UN Development Programme (UNDP), and UN Habitat also shared their most pressing concerns and needs.

Sarah Douglas, Deputy Chief of the Peace and Security section at UN Women, talked about the key role that women play in peacemaking, and the dangers of excluding them: she declared that, if exclusion continues, 86 per cent of the world’s extreme poor will be living in fragile environments and conflict zones by 2030.

On the topic of innovation, Eduardo Gustale, Experimentation and Learning Specialist at UNDP Accelerator Labs, stressed how traditional approaches to development are struggling to keep up with today’s fast-moving social and environmental challenges. Mr. Gustale explained how the Accelerator Labs – the largest and fastest growing network on sustainable development challenges – are designed to forge partnerships to make extraordinary breakthroughs on complex global challenges.  

Photo of UNDP Speaker
Photo credit: Brooklyn Prewett

The third UN speaker, Chris Williams, Director of the UN-Habitat New York Office, discussed the importance of decarbonizing the built environment, and promoting socially and environmentally sustainable towns and cities.

The 2023 NEXUS UN Briefing marked a significant milestone in global discussions on addressing multifaceted challenges, fostering productive dialogues, forging partnerships, and paving the way for innovative solutions.

The event served as a reminder that collective action, cooperation, and inclusivity are crucial for creating a more sustainable and equitable world. As young leaders continue to engage in these important conversations with the UN, it is hoped that the insights gained will guide and inspire transformative actions on a global scale.

NEXUS and the UN

NEXUS was set up to connect social innovators and accelerate solutions to global problems. The UN Office for Partnerships has been working closely with NEXUS for 12 years, helping the members to connect with the UN System, and collaborate on several high-impact projects.