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The UN Global Compact is proud to introduce the Young SDG Innovators Programme, a development programme designed to accelerate business innovation to achieve activates future business leaders and changemakers and challenges them to rethink traditional business models and unlock new business opportunities.


During this ten-month accelerator programme, select young professionals (“Innovators”) from UN Global Compact participating companies will:

  • Connect to enterprising young professionals in country and from around the world to leverage the Sustainable Development Goals as a catalyst for the development of new products and services relevant to their business.
  • Collaborate with thought leaders in a series of team exercises and interactive learning opportunities involving real-world challenges, peer feedback and sparring, and mentoring and coaching.
  • Build organizational learning skills that will enable employees across different functions to develop innovative solutions to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals through new technologies, initiatives and business models.


As a participating company of the UN Global Compact and Global Compact Network South Africa, your company is eligible to nominate up to three high-performing young professionals for this inaugural programme. This programme is designed to target:

  • High-performing employees at a participating company of the UN Global Compact
  • 35 years or younger
  • 5 years or more of work experience
  • Interest in business model innovation, sustainability and disruptive technologies


The Young SDG Innovators Programme is designed to engage your company’s brightest and best talent in not only advancing your sustainability efforts but driving innovation and delivering tangible solutions with potential market value for your company.


  • Learning and development resources. A comprehensive curriculum with a blend of learning opportunities including online and in-person workshops, case studies, company visits and forum discussions.
  • Professional experience. Connect with other business units and collaborate on innovative projects relative to the company and industry.
  • Coaching, mentoring and peer-to-peer networking opportunities. Build working relationships and learn from some of the brightest minds working on sustainability and innovation from around the world.
  • Be part of a global network of leading young professionals from some of the top companies across every continent.


Call for nominations: 19 October 2022 – 15 December 2022

Programme begins: February 2023

Programme ends: August 2023


  • Accelerate integration of the SDGs into your company’s business strategy through collaboration, innovation and knowledge sharing.
  • Create a culture of innovation to address the SDGs and showcase the programme’s tangible outputs and results.
  • Increase employee engagement and professional development opportunities for valued talent, including:
    • High-quality, cutting-edge and inspirational workshops from thoughtleaders in the sustainability and disruptive technology fields.
    • Opportunities to provide mentorship and leadership in the programme, collaborate with innovation experts, and share best practices.
    • Tools, resources and expertise by some of the leading innovative companies.
  • Gain global recognition for participation in the programme.


We will need to confirm company participation before companies are able to put forward innovators.

Companies interested in joining the programme can fill out the sign up Form or connect directly to their participating Global Compact Local Network, contact ( 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.


Contact the Global Compact Network South Africa at to learn more.



UN Global Compact Young SDG Innovators Participants in South Africa


UN Global Compact Young SDG Innovators Participants in South Africa


UN Global Compact Young SDG Innovators Participants in South Africa


What is the SDG Innovation Accelerator?

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

What does the program involve?

In the program, 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 program, the Innovators work in teams to identify an SDG-related challenge that is relevant to their company and, over the course of the program, develop a solution to address that challenge.

What is the duration of the program?

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

What are the benefits of participating for companies?

The program 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.

Is there an extra cost for my company to participate?

Contact your Local Network for more information on programme costs.

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

While the program is designed to facilitate cross-pollination of knowledge, new skills and ides across project teams, we recognise the importance for companies to safeguard proprietary information and ideas. Companies may wish to have all program participants sign a non-disclosure agreement (NDA) to cover any intellectual property being used or discussed as part of the program. Should your company require NDAs to be signed, please inform your Global Compact Network South Africa 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 program.

Why is the program only for young professionals?

The program 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 program.

Why do you categorise young professionals as 35 and under?

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

Where does the program take place?

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

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

All companies participating in the UN Global Compact are eligible to take part in the program 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 program?

Companies can select up to four (4) young professionals to participate in the program per cycle.

What are the eligibility criteria for the Young SDG Innovators?

While there are no set requirements, the program 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.

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 program?

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 program?

As a participating YSIP company, you commit to:

  • Select up to three (3) Innovators to take part in the program for the full duration of 10-months;
  • Allow Innovators the time needed for full participation in the program

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 program 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 program. Each Innovator team must have a designated Champion throughout the program.

Mentors and Experts are individuals outside of the Innovators’ company with knowledge of technical and relevant subjects in the program, such as sustainability, innovation, product design and breakthrough technologies. Mentors are matched to Innovator teams to shepherd the team throughout the program 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.

When does the program start?

The program will kick off locally in February 2023. However, each program start date differs depending on the Global Compact Local Network launching it —so please refer to the specific Network for the program start dates.

How do I apply?

Companies interested in joining the program can contact the Local Network at Due to demand and limited spots in the program, the South African Network will need to confirm company participation before approved companies are able to put forward program participants.

Once company interest has been registered. You will be contacted by the South African Network on next steps.

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

Yes. All you have to do is to send the Project Manager an email to register your interest for future rounds of the program.