In late-July in Florianopolis, Brazil, more than 3,200 young entrepreneurs representing 17 countries gathered at the Junior Enterprise World Conference 2016 (JEWC), which this year was the largest such conference in the history of the Junior Enterprise Movement. The event, which followed the theme of “Leading the Co-Era” invited young entrepreneurs from around the globe to reflect on new ways of connecting, collaborating and co-creating in an era of new global challenges.
The RIO+ Centre was pleased to be invited to take part in the event, by participating in the opening ceremony with an interactive panel discussion on the state of the world by our director Romulo Paes de Sousa, along with Luciana Aguiar of UNDP Brazil, Ketan Makwana from Enterprise Lab, Michele Hunt, and Mary Shuttleworth of Youth for Human Rights. In addition, the RIO+ Centre was proud to be able to join in on the conversation at the Global Junior Enterprise Forum and host a dynamic workshop on the 2030 Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
The two-hour workshop, with 300 participants, outlined the importance of businesses and the private sector’s role in SDGs, and featured moderation by B-Corps Brazil and Carioteca, as well as presentations from UNDP Brazil and the well established social enterprise One Dollar Glasses. The workshop concluded with an inspiring and productive World Café group dialogue, which focused on how the Junior Enterprise movement could incorporate the SDGs into their plans and visions. Gender equality, environmental education, long-lasting social impact and multiple partnerships were some of the main topics discussed, besides the reflection of how the junior enterprises could adopt more sustainable practices themselves, disseminate the SDGs among the movement, and create national, and even global, guidelines.
The Junior Enterprise (JE) Movement’s inspirational energy and aspirations for transformative change were palpable at the event; it is these young leaders that will be guiding the world in achieving the SDGs and bringing an era of social, environmental and economic justice. “As Junior Entrepreneurs we do not only have the possibility to co-create a new and better world, but also the responsibility to do it well”, reflected Franco Maestri from Atlas, a junior enterprise from Argentina. “We need to work together to incorporate and transmit social responsibility and sustainability as the basis of a new era, not just as ideas, but translated into effective actions. We can add not only economical value to what we do, but also social and environmental values.”
RIO+ has been actively involved with youth and with youth movements over the last months. Young people’s participation, engagement, and inclusion in the SDGs implementation process are crucial for their achievement, as 65 out of the 169 SDGs targets refer to young people explicitly or implicitly. The JE Movement, in acknowledging this, seeks to create partnerships that support a more global and impactful vision of the JE movement. “The approximation of the UN with the JE Movement at the JEWC was a first step of a long journey. There is a lot of synergy still to be explored, especially with the newly released SDGs agenda, and we have to move forward on this now”, concluded Yuri Kuzniecow, the President of the Junior Enterprise Federation in Santa Catarina and Coordinator of JEWC 2016.
Franco Maestri, founding member of Atlas, Argentina:
“Participating in the JEWC 2016 was a mind changing experience for us, it was amazing to be there and be actually aware of how big the movement is and how much passion there is about it.
We were honored with the invitation to participate in the global forum, which was probably the most important and revealing activity for us. Just in a few hours we started to feel the entire world closer.
We now truly believe in the influence of the JE movement, we can act in the everyday activities as agents of change. As Junior Entrepreneurs we do not only have the possibility to co-create a new and better world, but also the responsibility to do it well.
We need to work together to incorporate and transmit the values that are going to be the basis of a new era. We believe that two of the most important values are social responsibility and sustainability, not just as ideas but translated into effective actions. We can add not only economical value in what we do, but also social and environmental values.
The power that the JE movement has can help to create a whole new business model, and a new social paradigm. Maybe we have to stop thinking what we want to be in the world, and start thinking what we want to be to the world.
‘We do not inherit the Earth from our Ancestors, we borrow it from our Children'”
Mona Härter, Secretary General of the Jade Executive Board (European Confederation of Junior Enterprises)
“Across JEWC we felt a lot of creativity and many good ideas that show that the Junior Entrepreneurs are dedicated and passionate about their work and want to improve the world’s situation. The atmosphere was full of passion for the movement. This inspired the Global Forum, where representatives of the Junior Entrepreneurs from all over the world gathered together and discussed topics like the creation of a global image for the worldwide network.The outcome of the event proves that the young students and Junior Entrepreneurs are more and more involved in making a change for the future.”
Yuri Kuzniecow, President of the JE Federation in Santa Catarina and Coordinator of JEWC 2016
“The approximation of the UN with the JE Movement in this event was a first step of a long journey. It will be the first deflection in a route, which maybe doesn’t make much difference in a short term, but which will change the lives of many people in a long term. There is a lot of synergy still to be explored, and we have to move forward on this. We have to continue this involvement, this dialogue, so that the Junior Enterprise Movement increasingly meets a great godmother, a supporter, in the UN. In the end, we do have much synergy in our proposals, more than ever with the newly released agenda of the Sustainable Development Goals.”