UN Youth Volunteers serving with UNDP's Accelerator Lab in Guatemala.
UN Youth Volunteers serving with UNDP's Accelerator Lab in Guatemala.

Youth volunteers accelerate green solutions at the grassroots

Achieving a green, just and sustainable future doesn’t always entail creating from scratch. Sometimes it’s about fostering innovation based on what already exists. But how can we map, analyze and scale-up those solutions? One way is through youth volunteers. 

Representing over 160 million people in Latin America and the Caribbean, youth bring the abilities, ideas and determination to overcome the triple planetary crisis – loss of biodiversity, pollution and climate change. Volunteerism is a means for utilizing those skills, while accelerating and increasing their scope of action. 

In Guatemala, the UN Development Programme (UNDP) Accelerator Lab partnered with the United Nations Volunteers (UNV) programme and the Guatemalan Volunteer Centre. Together, they performed a collective intelligence exercise where the local volunteer organizations provided first-hand community information. What are people’s needs? How are communities tackling development obstacles? What solutions have been implemented so far? 

Three UN Youth Volunteers were part of this initiative. As members of the Accelerator Lab’s team, they not only functioned as the bridge between partners, but also consolidated and analyzed the information to source people-centered solutions. 

“The Accelerator Lab has 3 lines of action: solution mapping, exploration, and experimentation. For the exploration part, I could map change signals to understand how environmental, governmental, or economic issues affect human mobility," shares Juan Pablo Rustrián, UN Youth Volunteer serving as Quantitative Analyst for the UNDP Accelerator Lab in Guatemala.  

He continues, "For the experimentation line, I mapped local experiments on organic and biofuels bricks to potentially scale them up. Finally, for solution mapping, I participated in focus groups with communities to hear their thoughts on solid waste management agreements."

Hear also from Julio Sierra, former UN Youth Volunteer serving as Socio-environment Researcher with the UNDP’s Accelerator Lab in Guatemala: 

Discover the impact of this initiative through the voice of our partners: