Young SDG Innovators

Frequently Asked Questions


What is the Young SDG Innovators Programme?

The Young SDG Innovators Programme (YSIP) is an accelerator programme designed to engage young professionals working in companies that participate in the United Nations Global Compact. The programme aims to equip them with skills to advance sustainability efforts, drive innovation and deliver tangible sustainability solutions for your company.

What does the programme involve?

In the programme, young professional participants (“Innovators”) explore new innovations and learn from leading experts and sustainability leaders about how to advance the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) through the development of breakthrough ideas, products and business models. Using the tools and training from the programme, the Innovators work in teams to identify an SDG-related challenge that is relevant to their company and, over the course of the programme, develop a solution to address that challenge. Please refer to the programme brochure.

What are the benefits of participating for companies?

The programme offers companies the opportunity to engage their top talent at the junior and middle manager level and develop a new generation of employees that think between the intersection of corporate sustainability and innovation. Companies also benefit from the development of real business solutions that have the potential to provide value for both the company and society.

How can my company ensure the protection of our intellectual property if we take part in the programme?

While the programme is designed to facilitate cross-pollination of knowledge, new skills and ideas across project teams, we recognize the importance for companies to safeguard proprietary information and ideas. Companies may wish to have all programme participants sign a non-disclosure agreement (NDA) to cover any intellectual property being used or discussed as part of the programme. Should your company require NDAs to be signed, please inform your Global Compact Local Network in advance. It is the responsibility of your company to ensure that all NDAs are signed by the relevant parties. As supporting participants, Mentors and Experts will be required to sign confidentiality agreements to take part in the programme.

Is there an extra cost for my company to participate?

As the programme is run in several different countries, your participating Local Network may require some fees such as fees related to sending additional young professionals to take part in the programme as well as programme activity costs, such as travel and incidentals, which are not covered through the programme. Please refer to your participating Global Compact Local Network for more details.

Where does the programme take place?

The programme is currently being run by Global Compact Local Networks in the following countries: Bangladesh, Canada, Brazil, Denmark, Lebanon, Mexico, South Africa, Turkey, Ukraine, UK and USA.

My company is not based in a participating Network country. How can we take part in the programme?

Unfortunately as this is a country-level programme, only companies based in countries whose Global Compact Local Network is taking part can participate. However, non-eligible companies may be able to take part in the programme as Mentors or Experts. Please refer to the information brochure for more information or contact

Can young professionals from subsidiaries of UN Global Compact participating companies take part in the programme?

As long as the parent company is a UN Global Compact participating company and the subsidiary is based in a country whose Global Compact Local Network is taking part, their young professionals are eligible to participate.

What is the commitment my company has to make to take part in the programme?

As a participating YSIP company, you commit to:

  • Select up to three (3) Innovators to take part in the programme for the full duration of 10-months;
  • Allow Innovators the time needed for full participation in the programme
  • Identify a Champion who will support the Innovator team internally within the company

What is the time commitment for Innovators?

Innovators are expected to attend five (5) in-person 2-day workshops throughout the course of 10 months in addition to spending approximately 2-3 hours per week on online learning and activities, and group project development.

What is the difference between Innovators, Champions, Mentors and Experts?

Innovators are the young professionals that form teams to take part in the programme to develop viable SDG business solutions for their companies. Champions are senior-level executives within the same company as Innovators that ensure the teams have high-level support in their company and the SDG business solutions are aligned with the company’s strategic goals and objectives. Only companies in participating Networks can select Innovators for the programme. Each Innovator team must have a designated Champion throughout the programme.

Mentors and Experts are individuals outside of the Innovators’ company with knowledge of technical and relevant subjects in the programme, such as sustainability, innovation, product design and breakthrough technologies. Mentors are matched to Innovator teams to shepherd the team throughout the programme and provide guidance in their training and project development. Experts provide global technical advice and insight on particular issue areas or industries, when needed, to inform and support team solutions design and development.


Why is the programme only for young professionals?

The programme is designed to target employees that do not yet have senior management responsibilities and therefore have more time to dedicate to a 10-month development programme.

Why do you categorize young professionals as 35 and under?

There is no set definition for the age of a young professional. Young professionals can be categorized as working individuals anywhere between the ages of 21 to 40. The age of 35 was selected as the upper age limit for the programme given that many demographic and population statistical organizations recognize young adulthood at being between the ages of 18 and 34.

Is any company participating in the UN Global Compact eligible to take part in the programme?

All companies participating in the UN Global Compact are eligible to take part in the programme as long as they are based in a country whose Global Compact Local Network is participating.

How many young professionals can my company select for the programme?

Companies can select up to three (3) young professionals to participate in the programme per cycle.

What are the eligibility criteria for the Young SDG Innovators?

While there are no set requirements, the programme is designed to target employees aged 35 and under who have a passion for sustainability, creativity; and demonstrate strong teamwork skills. Employees from business innovation, Research and Development, marketing, logistics, procurement, customer experience/service and sustainability units are encouraged to participate.

Does the Global Compact have to approve the Young SDG Innovator candidates from my company before they are selected?

No, we encourage companies to choose individuals who best fit the Innovator profile to ensure diversity among the candidate pool in terms of business unit and background. Guidance is provided to companies as to desired qualifications for Innovators.


How do I apply?

Companies interested in joining the programme can fill out the sign up form or connect directly to their participating Global Compact Local Network. Due to demand and limited spots in the programme, Local Networks will need to confirm company participation before approved companies are able to put forward programme participants.

When does the programme start?

The programme will kick off globally in September 2019. However, each programme start date differs depending on the Global Compact Local Network launching it— so please refer to the specific Network for the programme start dates.

What is the duration of the programme?

The Young SDG Innovators Programme runs in annual cycles over the course of 10 months.

My company is not able to take part in the programme this year but would like to participate next year. Can we sign up now for the next round?

Programme applications are managed by Global Compact Local Networks which have the right to determine how and when to waitlist companies for future rounds of the programme.