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UNGA Hosts Debate on Entrepreneurship for Development

UNGA26 June 2013: A high-level thematic debate on 'Entrepreneurship for Development' took place in the UN General Assembly (UNGA) on 26 June 2013, at UN Headquarters in New York, US. Mandated by UNGA Resolution 67/202, the interactive event discussed "promoting entrepreneurship in the context of sustainable development and poverty eradication at the national, regional and international levels, and the role of the United Nations and the international community in this regard."

Vuk Jeremic, UNGA President, invited States to link the post-2015 development agenda with entrepreneurship. He urged the creation of "enabling frameworks" that capture the talents and ideas of individuals, as this will help end the cycle of poverty and improve standards of living. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon stressed the importance of empowering young people through entrepreneurship. By investing in education and creating an enabling environment for youth entrepreneurs, he said the young generation has the power to change the world.

Giving opening addresses via video were Shimon Peres, President of Israel, and Antonio Tajani, Vice President of Industry and Entrepreneurship at the European Commission (EC). Peres said "peoples are as important as nations" in today's world, and stressed the importance of individual initiatives. Tajani spoke of the need to create more jobs with the growing global population, and presented the EC Entrepreneurship 2020 action plan as an example of international initiatives.

Other speakers highlighted social entrepreneurship and the "entrepreneurial spirit" as crucial to development. Emmanuel Hategeka, Ministry of Trade and Industry, Rwanda, said that the "exchange of ideas, experiences, and lessons" through entrepreneurship allows for new solutions to problems to be found. Ron Prosor, Permanent Representative, Israel, said entrepreneurship is key to the challenges of the 21st century, noting that today "belongs to those that are not afraid to fail, to question, and to dream."

The first panel discussion, titled 'Entrepreneurship for Development,' presented the importance of entrepreneurs to developing a nation's economy and social culture. Professor Dan Shechtman, Nobel Prize Laureate and Professor at Technion Institute of Technology, spoke of the importance of technological entrepreneurship, saying that though most technology ventures fail, the "entrepreneurial society" is importance for peace and prosperity. Sherry Tross, Organization of American States (OAS), also spoke of the entrepreneurship of the young generation. She said youth often have an attraction to sustainable entrepreneurship and corporate social responsibility (CSR), and that investments should be made to give youth the opportunity to experiment and engage across cultures.

A second panel, on 'Education for Development,' discussed how education and training can foster entrepreneurs in a society. Thom Ruhe, Kauffman Foundation, talked about the role of experiential learning, in which students take their ideas into the community to experience the people and the market that they are trying to serve. Luke Williams, New York University, said entrepreneurship is not only about creating new businesses; creativity and shared ideas are essential for economic progress. Princess Jenkins, The Brownstone, discussed the role of women entrepreneurs and said entrepreneurship is about finding something one is passionate about and developing an idea around it.

A third panel discussion focused on 'Entrepreneurship as a Tool for Empowerment.' [Programme of Thematic Debate] [Letter from UNGA President on Thematic Debate] [Remarks of UNGA President] [Remarks of UN Secretary-General] [UN Press Release] [UNGA Resolution 67/202] [IISD RS Sources]