WSA PATRONS 2018
Today, the world has the largest youth population ever, with 1.8 billion young women and men across the planet. In many countries, young people face obstacles in engaging in productive activities leaving them vulnerable to social economic exclusion. Youth unemployment rates are significantly higher in most, if not all geographic regions. However, young people want to be actively involved in their communities and are ever more interested in making choices based on their ethical values. Many young people are actively seeking novel solutions to societal problems, acting as agents of innovation and change. To foster such development, international organizations, such as UNIDO, are helping countries to work towards increasing youth employability and providing them with the necessary tools to create and develop innovative and sustainable enterprises, ultimately empowering them to improve their livelihoods. Together, we can support our youth by building an enabling environment for the full realization of their capabilities.
Preparing for the digital future is one of the most important tasks today. The internet expands new economic opportunities, creates jobs and connects people. Modern technologies offer big chances and require entrepreneurs to fully unlock their economic potential. The World Summit Award presents the most innovative youngsters and their outstanding digital projects from more than 180 countries, each with deep impact for improving our society. I would like to thank all participants and winners of this year`s Award for their courage and patience, working on new digital solutions for a better world.
The future is digital. Innovation, creativity and technical know-how are all important for shaping this future. Spaces where changes take place need to be purposefully used. Digitisation is a huge challenge for education systems around the world, and simultaneously it offers many opportunities for the future of learning. We are currently faced with the important task of equipping young people with the skills necessary to prepare them for future developments. The World Summit Award, now in its 15th year, honours innovative projects from young entrepreneurs around the world who are working towards creating a sustainable and digital future. I would like to warmly congratulate all this year’s winners, and to thank all the participants for their active involvement.
An ancient Chinese proverb says: When the winds of change blow, some build walls, others build windmills. We are currently in the midst of such change. Technological developments revolutionize the way we live and work, the way we communicate, how we travel, how we learn, how fast we age and how healthy we remain. Digitalization thus gives us the opportunity to successfully meet some of the greatest challenges of the 21st century, but only if we take the chance and learn to build windmills. At our Ministry we are trying to shape and support digital development through the provision of the necessary digital infrastructure and the funding of technology & innovation, however, we know that we can only pave the way. It is smart, curious, dedicated people like the youngsters participating in the World Summit Awards who are the real game changers. These people with their impressing ideas and projects are the ones who truly enrich the future and make a difference.
Vienna has been among the world’s most innovative cities for generations. Its strong welfare system, social housing for almost two thirds of the population, and the drinking water supply from the nearby mountains have worked reliably for decades thanks to sustainable planning. These accomplishments are just examples for the many social and technological innovations that enhance quality of life in Vienna every day, and have led to its worldwide reputation as a highly liveable city. To make sure Vienna remains a good place to live for everyone even as it continues to grow fast, we are already preparing the right framework conditions for the future: with a Smart City Strategy that focuses on social inclusion, responsible resource management, and inventing the future by investing in science and research.
Smart and sustainable products are a special strength of Vienna as a business location. It is therefore an important sign to hold a congress at the Vienna City Hall, which awards digital solutions with a social impact. We will offer the numerous international visitors a pleasant stay.
Since years, the World Summit Award has promoted outstanding digital concepts and applications that create a social and cultural value. The city of Vienna firmly supports the initiative and is looking forward to the event in the town hall in 2018.
Why are we working together with the WSA? Because we are looking for precisely those companies to which the WSA has access: young, aspiring start-ups with fresh, digital ideas and technological innovations.
We as a successful industrial group of companies will secure our continued existence only if we continually renew our approach and re-invent ourselves.
This time we are also going to get our ideas and innovations from outside, through the Josef Umdasch Research Prize 2018. And of course we are very pleased to be doing this together with the WSA.
Young people under the age of 30 have unprecedented opportunities to engage their imagination toward building Knowledge Societies, by addressing development challenges through widely accessible digital solutions such as apps, social media, as well as blockchain applications, the Internet of Things, robotics and artificial intelligence.
Amidst the grave challenges facing humankind, we must find hope in all the young women and men who are applying their creativity toward local and global digital solutions to build a world of the future that will be more at peace and as one. We must urge the young innovators at the World Summit Awards to continue forward in their lives to help build a greener and more sustainable planet whose mission is to leave no one behind.