When 193 world leaders appended their signatures that brought into reality the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), questions bordering on how achievable the SGDs are considering the challenges confronting our world, especially in developing countries, popped up in the mind of everyone. It was agreed that ambitious goals require ambitious but calculated risks and ideas. With this in mind, UNLEASH, supported by over 200 partners set forth to recruit 1000 talents to provide insights and solutions to the SDGs.

 

Early in 2017, a call for submission of insights from every part of the globe was issued. 3000 insights were submitted from over 150 countries where organisers selected 1000 insights from 129 countries for further development. These insights were diverse as well as cross-cutting amongst every theme of the SDGs.

As a medic currently being trained in Nigeria, the health sector plagued with multiple problems begs for attention, hence, my insight submission planned to address a problem in this sector: health financing. Understanding that funding and community participation in every stage of the development of the health care remains a big challenge and a watershed in improving healthcare in Nigeria, I set forth to solve that. Acknowledging that funding towards healthcare remains at the whims and caprices of politicians, politicians’ understanding of the urgent need for more investment in healthcare and the electorate perception of the politicians’ abilities in addressing their health demands, the insight provided, aimed at influencing this using a social entrepreneurship model. Before being scaled to the state and national level, the insight will run a test pilot phase in three senatorial zones in three different geopolitical regions. With combination of statistics, community participation and lobbying within each zone, politicians will be made to see what the community demand of them in the health sector and how this will influence their election. In due course, this will be scaled to state and national levels.

This insight submitted was accepted and got me into the highly competitive program.

Between 13th-21st August, 1000 young innovators from 129 countries gathered in Denmark to work on their insight and collaborate with one another to provide solutions to most of the world’s pressing problem. The various themes apart from health included sustainable production and consumption, food, water, education and ICT among others. Being a medic with experience in advocacy in mental health, I was also asked to collaborate with 3 other talents to provide solutions to mental health. Working with a Bangladeshi doctor, Danish medic and Canadian economist, we worked on how proper nutrition can be used to support the mental health of students in Nigeria using a social entrepreneurship model. Unfortunately, we didn’t win the coveted gold prize but the work and passion we put in providing insight got us nominated for the best problem framing award.

Meanwhile, other jaw-dropping ideas came out from the event. In health, countering counterfeit drugs in Nigeria using blockchain technology had everyone wowed. In sustainable consumption and production, the replacement of shipping packaging material with a reusable and biodegradable material got investors excited as it was scalable and worth over $1billion dollars in the long run. Providing a “uber” for sign language interpreters provided the handicapped with a competitive and ready source for interpreters emerged winners in the education theme. Other theme areas were full of great ideas which were all as well exciting and inspiring.

On reflection on this process and how the event spanned out from start to finish, I remember the words of Salman Khan of the famous Khan Academy at the closing ceremony of the event which also had in attendance Prime Minister Rasmussen of Denmark, UN UnderSecretary Mr Stein among others: drawing inspiration from where I was before founding Khan to where I am currently, I encourage you young people to follow your dreams, be ambitious in your goals and collaborate with one another;this is the true substance of the SDGs and the #FutureWeWant

As a take home point, the UNLEASH program is one which all countries of the world must adopt to solve their local problems and create lasting network among young people. Being part of the inaugural class of this program that plans to run yearly till 2030, all I can say is “watch out; there is more to UNLEASH after 2017!”

 

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