UN Foundation to Convene Young Thinkers and Activists for 2023 Big Brainstorm

The third annual event will provide an open, intergenerational platform for young people to design their future

Washington, D.C.

February 15, 2023


Megan Rabbitt

The United Nations Foundation announced today that the 2023 Big Brainstorm will take place virtually between February 16-28. The two-week design sprint will bring together young thinkers and activists from around the world to explore, prototype, and launch initiatives to tackle some of the biggest challenges facing the next generation (young people under 30 who make up half the world’s population), and future generations (the 11 billion people who are yet to be born this century). These initiatives range from transforming education systems to tackling climate change, improving economic opportunities, and promoting gender equality.

This year’s Big Brainstorm theme is “A Year of Action for the SDGs,” providing an opportunity to accelerate action to solve the world’s most urgent problems ahead of the second Sustainable Development Goals Summit, with young people at the forefront of change.

“We’re looking for breakthrough solutions by young people that inspire action and address problems that can’t be solved in conventional, incremental ways,” said Harshani Dharmadasa, Senior Director at the UN Foundation leading its new program, Our Future Agenda. “Our goal is to mobilize young thinkers and activists to innovate and drive lasting change — this is a generation of doers who will help build an international system that stands up for people of the 21st century, both living and yet to be born”.

Anyone, anywhere, of any age is welcome to join the Big Brainstorm, and can register here. Over 2,200 people from around the world have registered to attend so far, with more than 1,000 having submitted proposals for transformational action.

The Big Brainstorm has three segments: the Big Kick-Off, Spotlight Sessions, and the Big Pitch.

The Big Kick-Off on February 16 will announce the most promising solutions. Speakers include Her Excellency Lachezara Stoeva, Permanent Representative of Bulgaria to the UN and ECOSOC President, Eddie Ndopu, SDG Activist, and Inés Yábar, UN Foundation Next Generation Fellow Lead. The event will close with a special performance from Mia Kami, a young Tongan singer and songwriter, and winner of 2023 UN Foundation SDG Vanguard Award, who uses music to inspire intergenerational action and fuel political and environmental change.

This event will be followed by seven Spotlight Sessions with leading thinkers and activists to provide guidance to the young innovators and help them to build the momentum and networks they need to succeed.

Young people will present their final solutions during Big Pitch on February 28 before an expert panel. Expert panelists include:

  • Mohamad Al-Jounde, Founder, Gharsah School
  • Anjhula Mya Singh Bais, Chair, International Board, Amnesty International
  • Anna Brodowsky, Vice President Public Affairs, Essity
  • Meagan Durlak, Creative Director, Google Creative Lab
  • Courtney Kimmel, Vice President, Captain Planet Foundation
  • Alaa Murabit, Director, Program Advocacy and Communications, Gates Foundation

During this event, an award will be presented for the solution with the most public support, to be judged through a popular vote.

The event will close with a performance from MC Millaray, an emerging 16-year-old music star in Chile, using her fierce lyrics to advocate for transformative change for young people and future generations. MC Millary’s personal journey was recently featured in the New York Times.

At the conclusion of the Big Brainstorm, young changemakers are able to continue to develop their solutions through the Engine Room. The Engine Room is a global platform where young changemakers can forge connections, mobilize their initiatives, and develop their 2023 work plan ahead of the SDG Summit.

About the Big Brainstorm
The Big Brainstorm is a UN Foundation initiative supported by the Unlock the Future Coalition, a high-ambition alliance hosted by the UN Foundation that unites the world’s leading youth-led and youth-focused organizations working with and for young people, reaching over 875 million people worldwide. Join the Big Brainstorm at https://ourfutureagenda.org/bigbrainstorm/.

About The UN Foundation
For 25 years, the UN Foundation has built novel innovations and partnerships to support the United Nations and help solve global problems at scale. As an independent charitable organization, the Foundation was created to work closely with the United Nations to address humanity’s greatest challenges and drive global progress. Learn more at www.unfoundation.org.