UN Youth Hackathon 2021: Rethinking, Redesigning, and Innovating new ways of creating a shared sustainable future.

reading time 2 min read
reading time 2 years ago

Over the last few years, the pandemic has made it clear that the world cannot operate as a business as usual. Globally, we need to rethink, redesign and innovate new ways that pave a brighter and more sustainable future for everyone. Young people are our leaders of tomorrow and will drive forward efforts to create a more resilient future.

To facilitate the ideation of solutions by the youth to some of the world's toughest problems with data, the United Nations Statistics Division and the Major Group for Children and Youth (MGCY) , along with regional hubs in Rwanda, UAE, Brazil, and China, organized a virtual hackathon in 2021. It was activated in the MENA region in collaboration with the Federal Youth Authority under the sponsorship of the minister of youth HE Shamma Al-Mazrui. The hackathon aimed to provide a space for young people to develop their data science skills by having direct access to relevant data sets and working collaboratively with their teams. The hackathon supported youth engagement in evidence-based decision-making through the analysis of data, and ensured participants received feedback from their peers and professional mentors to globally scale up their solutions toward accelerating SDGs.

The Hackathon connected more than 70 teams from all around the world. 29 Teams represented the MENA region. 16 of the teams delivered projects that were advanced, and which included detailed analysis reports. In the spirit of engaging the youth, enriching their knowledge, and encouraging their role in the field of data science in service of SDGs.  The hackathon sponsored many awards such as: best visualizations award which was awarded to ‘Datax’ team from Morocco,  most promising team award which was awarded to ‘Dragon Fly’ from the UAE, 3rd best project & best all student team awards were awarded to ‘UNAMOR’ from Mexico, and the 1st place overall winning project was awarded to ‘Sustainability’ team from France/Ivory Coast.

The winning team developed visualization tools that support understanding households’ vulnerability to COVID’s consequences in Uganda. The Team was awarded a visit to EXPO2020 Dubai, where they took part in the Mobilizing Big Data and Data Science for the Sustainable Development Goals Forum, and engaged with global leading experts in the fields of big data & AI. Additionally, the hackathon participants joined by data enthusiasts took part in a youth circle organized in collaboration with the UAE Federal youth authority. The interactive session directly engaged the youth on a global level with decision makers and data sciences pioneers by discussing topics that are relevant to their futures from a development & a sustainable perspective.

The UAE has made significant strides to ensure engagement of youth, listening to their voice and enhancement of their skills of leadership. The role young dreamers, innovators & pioneers play in setting the stones for the UAE’s future is crucial. The UAE plays an important role in the region as an incubator for the youth’s creative skills & innovations, by empowering them to take action & pave the way toward a better sustainable future. Youth enablement through embracing their solutions, will not only serve the 2030 SDGs Agenda, but also will build them a brighter future & lead the way for the next generation. The UN Youth Hackathon had a notable impact in highlighting the importance of empowering the next generation of programmers, coders, & data scientists to not only be part of change but to initiate it through giving them access to relevant data, leading technologies, services, expertise, & teaching them the best practices in utilizing data science & AI.