UNLEASH 2019 – The Innovation Lab for the SDGs

The 2019 UNLEASH Innovation Lab has just concluded in Shenzhen, China. I was selected as one of 1000 talents from 169 countries who wish to use their experience and aptitude in sustainable development to help further the world’s progress on meeting the 17 Sustainable Development Goals by 2030. 

Talents were guided by a curated innovation process curated by lead partner Deloitte which included dedicated stages of Problem Definition, Ideation, Prototyping, Testing and Implementation. Over 200 solutions to 8 SDGs were developed over the 7 day process. A process which was wrapped up by 2 Nobel Peace Prize Laureates. 

On top of this the location of UNLEASH in Shenzhen, China provided a unique backdrop for insights in particular to innovation. Shenzhen itself grew from a town of 30,000 in the 1970s to a city of over 20 million in 2019. The supply chain processes that Shenzhen hosts touch on nearly every product consumed in modern life. 

My team’s problem centred on traffic congestion in Manila which causes an estimated $24 Billion USD in lost economic opportunity, which amounts to nearly half of the average Manila worker’s salary. Our solution was to help diffuse economic concentration in the city centre by offering the ability and confidence to Manila’s growing business process outsourcing (BPO) companies to host satellite office locations. The benefits of which include enhanced productivity, worker wellbeing and reduced traffic congestion and its associated negative externalities. 

All in all it was a fantastic experience and I can’t wait to see what’s produced at its 2020 iteration- wherever in the world it is next!