Good morning ladies and gentlemen,
Let me begin by sharing with you all two important statistics about youth, the group most of us here belong to. Number 1, over 50% of the world’s population is under the age of 30. Number 2, over two-thirds of youth will have jobs that do not exist today. Striking these headline figures may seem, but they are clearly telling us the world is increasingly depending on the younger half of the population to actively engage in civil society, and to make social progress by innovation and leadership. This is a profound implication that, I believe and hope you would agree as well, should form the cornerstone of how this particular age group identify itself in the modern society, how each of us discover our role to play in tackling major social issues and how we position ourselves in conversations that shape our future.
It is my second year joining the United Nations Sustainable Development Solutions Network Youth Symposium at the Vatican. While one of my goals is to present my journey at Health Impact Fund on marrying development finance with access to medicine, I am also here to interact with you all, delegates in this conference who are also celebrated young activists working in many different fields such as gender, human rights, health, environment etc. With the inspirations that you all have given me, I am proud to say that our generation is characterized by displaying stronger sense of ownership in global development issues, being more sensitive to international events happening around us, and contributing more directly to our communities through digital and other types of innovative solutions, compared to our parents or grandparents when they were at our age. This has certainly presented hope and silver linings to the world that is currently plagued with political distrust, economic turmoil and social tension to different extents in our countries.
As we celebrate the remarkable achievements made by youth across the world, it is essential to keep our minds clear and pause to review our capabilities. All of us are rising, or will very soon rise to decision making and resource mobilizing positions. We have already made a good start in gaining credibility from the world. We have shown, consistently through our works, active social conscience, dedication to civil affairs and priority to a purpose-driven career. Yet that is not enough, no one should be easily satisfied with the status quo. Following this train of thought, if we hope to continue the traction from our respective projects, amplify the impact, and consequently establish greater presence of youth in the global community, the way forward is nothing but to elevate the development works championed by all of us and other youths from a local, grassroots level, to a regional, or even international level.
In Health Impact Fund, my team and I have been exploring the appropriate strategies and tools to empower young people to join and lead the global movement of access to medicine. I started the Asia operations of Health Impact Fund in Hong Kong, my hometown for reasons are as simple as because I was more familiar with the healthcare issues in Hong Kong, because the organization is closer to the key beneficiaries and because the team has immediate access to resources or networks for help. The initial response from the healthcare community in Hong Kong was fantastic for the recipients understood the relevance of the problem and witnessed the tangible results we brought. But Hong Kong is a developed yet small city and my team eventually hit an impact ceiling i.e. a stage where we see diminishing marginal impact returns. I believe some of the delegates here may have faced a similar situation too after managing a program for a certain period of time.
Over the past months, my team at Health Impact Fund worked very hard since the last symposium to elevate our organization from sporadic projects in Hong Kong, Calgary, New Haven, Oslo and Berlin, to a consolidated and well-orchestrated program of a larger scale. To reach that goal, Health Impact Fund has undertaken a major leadership change, ensuring the management team is now re-aligned in terms of mission and vision. It is then followed by a series of internal strategic discussions, including but not limited to validating what has worked for Health Impact Fund in the past, identifying possible areas of replication for our new bigger program, and fine-tuning our messages to various stakeholders. One recurring theme in all these discussions is how Health Impact Fund can maintain its relevance when we move our program from cities to countries. At this moment, looking back, I would say Health Impact Fund was fortunate that it has a flexible model that could work in small cities as well as scale up in big countries, allowing us to perform all these changes within a relatively short period of time.
Two months before year 2017 ends, Health Impact Fund has successfully secured partnership with a major Swiss-based pharmaceutical manufacturing company. Both institutions share the same belief that medicines can be priced fairly according to their performance, instead of priced aggressively via patents. In turn, this fair pricing of medicines can lead to more equitable access to medicine for all. The pharmaceutical company has preliminarily agreed to provide medicines for our pilot run. Health Impact Fund also made significant progress in getting a government in Africa to support our program, in addition to the endorsement of 3 other governments in Asia and Europe we have obtained during earlier years. The inward reflections and changes Health Impact Fund made has translated into outward accomplishments, which is a positive transition for Health Impact Fund towards being a bigger and more impactful organization.
Coming back to the theme of youth leadership, delegates in the conference have definitely come across a feeling that the non-profit sector or the civil society is often very resources-constrained. How to mobilize cross-border becomes a frightening challenge to most of us. However, let us not be intimidated by the thought of doing so. Because we do need to realize if we decide to do everything on our own, duplicated efforts and precious time would cost us dearly as a group. I would urge all in this room to recognize that program elevation and resource mobilization are critical skills for young social leaders in the modern career of sustainable development. Through the amazing platform that is created through this conference held over the years, let us commit to continue to bring our youthful energy, burning passion and genuine insights into maintaining the stewardship for a fraternal, supportive and flourishing global community. Thank you very much.