Federal Department of Foreign Affairs FDFA

Youth and Future Prize: calling all innovative sustainable development projects

The Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation and the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs are announcing the second edition of the Swiss Youth and Future Prize. The 'Together we're better' competition is asking young people up to age 35 to submit projects that promote sustainable development and help fight poverty in the Global South. Another goal of the competition is to offer young people the opportunity to become involved in international cooperation work.

A collage of nine images shows motivated young people – alone and in groups – who are presenting their projects and engaged in conversation.

Together we're better: the Swiss Youth and Future Prize is aimed at young people involved in sustainable development. Above: presentation of winning projects from the 2019 competition. © FDFA

Helping in the fight against poverty, improving the quality of life for the world's most vulnerable people, finding digital solutions for local economic development, supporting projects that protect the environment: sustainability is the common thread that binds these initiatives together. The Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) and the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO) are offering a platform to innovative, future-oriented projects like these – whether they are already ongoing or still at the drawing board. The aim of the 'Together we're better' competition is to help formulate concrete ideas for global sustainable development while also involving young people in achieving Switzerland's international cooperation goals.

The Circleg project was the winner of the 2019 edition of the 'Together we're better' Swiss Youth and Future Prize. In this video, winners Simon Oschwald (28 years old) and Fabian Engel (29 years old) present their project, which creates lower-limb prosthetics out of recycled plastic waste (in German). Video: Max Hutmacher, former FDFA apprentice.

According to Simon Oschwald, who won the top prize in 2019 along with his colleague Fabian Engel, taking part in the competition has paid off: "We were able to build up a great network thanks to our participation in the 'Together we're better' event in 2019. We had the chance to meet people working on exciting projects, some of which were similar to ours."

We were able to build up a great network thanks to our participation in the 'Together we're better' event in 2019. We had the chance to meet people working on exciting projects, some of which were similar to ours. It was a really valuable experience.
Simon Oschwald, winner of the 2019 'Together we're better' competition and co-founder of Circleg

2030 Agenda: building networks and advancing transformation

The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) at the heart of the 2030 Agenda are a call to action to tackle global challenges. The 17 goals apply to all United Nations Member States, and Switzerland is also doing its part. The SDC and SECO want to involve the next generation in implementing this shared blueprint for peace and prosperity, as building networks with innovative and committed young people will help advance the transformation we need.

"'Together we're better' builds networks, which is indispensable when we're talking about achieving global objectives. The competition gives young people the chance to meet experts and benefit from cross-generational exchange. The SDC and SECO are joining the next generation in looking towards the future to reach a shared understanding of what kind of world they want to live in and how this can be achieved," says Barbara Hell, who is leading the 'Together we're better' project in the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs.

Energy, innovation and ideas for the Sustainable Development Goals

'Together we're better' is being held for the second time in 2021. At the heart of the competition is the ongoing dialogue that the SDC and SECO want to establish with the next generation. The energy, innovation and ideas of young people in particular have the power to transform society. 'Together we're better' emphasises the important role that young people have to play when it comes to achieving global sustainability goals such as the SDGs.

An image with a stylised depiction of the globe and the following text: let’s co-create our world of tomorrow.
The 2021 edition of the 'Together we're better' Swiss Youth and Future Prize aims to establish a dialogue with the next generation and help them become involved in bringing about a more sustainable world. © FDFA

Projects from the 2019 competition

Projects from the 2019 competition covered a wide range of issues and involved diverse partner countries from Switzerland's international cooperation strategy. The 'My.voice' project, for instance, was about promoting active citizen participation in South Africa, while 'Plastico fantastico' involved creating affordable living space out of recycled plastic in Maputo. The Stay Clean association proposed the 'Toilets for everyone' project together with their local partners in the Congo in order to create access to sanitary facilities in densely populated areas, thereby reducing the risk of disease.

Sustainability as a strategic goal

Based on the priorities in the Foreign Policy Strategy 2020–23, Switzerland is committed to mitigating climate change. This is set out in Switzerland's International Cooperation Strategy 2021–24, which aims to contribute to reducing poverty and implementing the 2030 Agenda.

The Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) and the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO( launch the Youth and Future Prize "Together we're better" for the second time.

'Together we're better' 2021

The 'Together we're better' Swiss Youth and Future Prize is open to all young people up to age 35 who are involved in sustainable development in one of Switzerland's international cooperation partner countries.

Applicants have until 30 November 2021 to submit their projects at www.togetherwerebetter.ch.

The award ceremony will be held at the International Cooperation Forum Switzerland, which will take place in Geneva from 31 March to 1 April 2022.

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