Understanding Youth and Social Innovations - A Roundtable Meeting with Youth Organizations in Zimbabwe

When :

from Friday 7 February, 2020
to Friday 7 February, 2020

Type of event :

Meeting by Member States or Institutions

Where :

UNESCO Regional Office for Southern Africa, Harare, Zimbabwe

Contact :

Phinith Chanthalangsy, p.chanthalangsy@unesco.org

To better understand the nature, features, and prevalence of youth’s social innovation in the Southern African Development Community, the UNESCO Regional Office for Southern Africa and the Southern African Research and Documentation Centre (SARDC) are jointly organising a first Roundtable discussion with youth organisations on 7 February 2020 under the theme "Understanding Youth and Social Innovations".

The objectives of the Roundtable are (i) to provide a platform for youths organizations to share their work and practices on social innovation; (ii) to engage youth organizations in formulating interventions on youth civic engagement, social innovation, and social cohesion among other themes.

Southern Africa has a youthful population - approximately 70% of the population in the region is below the age of 35 years. Adolescents and young people (10-24 years) constitute approximately 33% of the population in the bulk of the countries in the region (Hervish and Clifton, 2012).

A review of the Southern African context reveals that young women and men face important societal challenges and policy shortcomings that lead to various forms of marginalization and vulnerability. This has strong and long-term social, political, and economic impacts on the society at large, especially in settings where public investments in common public services have decreased. Such a situation, combined with the democratization of the ICTs, has given rise to individual or collective initiatives/undertakings that aim at addressing social needs via new approaches and tools. Youth oftentimes are one of the main groups of actors that actively engage in what is nowadays called “social innovation”. The latter can be defined as new social practices that aim at meeting social needs in a different way, and using different devises and channels.

While looking into the various fields of intervention – employment, environment, cultural heritage, education, health, community development, etc. – and the multiple features being used – online platform, social media, crowdfunding, applications, etc. – the Roundtable will look at burning questions raised by such new practices:

• Can social innovation be sustained and accessible to all in the long run?
• How can social innovation impel new practices in the private and public sector?
• To what extent social innovation can influence/change social relations, especially with regard to governance and citizen/State relation?
• What does social innovation reveal of the political and economic models a society opts for?
• Does social innovation reconcile youth with public affairs, or does it drift them away from them?

For logistical reasons, the Roundtable will be open to youth organizations operating locally in Harare, and by videoconference to youth originations in other SADC countries. Academia (such as University’s Innovation Hub), and UN organizations will also take part.