Most Influential Projects 2020

13 UpLink

50 MIP 13 UpLink

For creating a practical platform to achieve the U.N. Sustainable Development Goals

When the United Nations adopted 17 wildly ambitious Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in 2016—including eradicating hunger, eliminating gender disparities in education and achieving universal access to safe drinking water—aspiration took precedence over reality. Practical tools to reach the bold targets remained to be created.

That is changing. The World Economic Forum (WEF) teamed up with corporate heavyweights Salesforce, Deloitte and LinkedIn to launch UpLink, a digital platform to connect nextgen changemakers and social entrepreneurs with the resources they need to make a difference.

“The world has no shortage of creative ideas. However, we often lack the pathways that would enable youth innovation to be scaled up,” U.N. Deputy Secretary General Amina Mohammed said when the project was unveiled in September 2019. “We need more initiatives like UpLink, that bring together young people, combine ideas with capital, and link business and the SDGs.”

Officially rolled out at Davos in January, UpLink is part of an effort for a “decade of action” from WEF aimed at crowdsourcing human ingenuity. The group is requesting submissions for how to tackle challenges linked to the SDGs; it then selects the most promising ones and forms action groups around the projects, helping to support the team and to scale the initiative. The promise of UpLink, says Allen Blue, co-founder of LinkedIn, is to fill what he called “the network gap.”

Already, the platform is amplifying connections for young changemakers, through a sprint focused on SDG 14, protecting marine ecosystems and reducing ocean pollution. “We don’t look at [today’s challenges] as a burden; we look at them as an opportunity,” Melati Wijsen, 19-year-old co-founder of Bye Bye Plastic Bags, said at Davos. “We need a space like this to connect the dots. Suddenly solutions seem so much closer to our fingertips.”

Related Sponsors and Organizations

  • Deloitte
  • LinkedIn
  • Salesforce
  • World Economic Forum