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Mazars Young Innovators: The Next Generation of Changemakers

Towards the end of last year, two Mazars team members – Harriet Walker and Elizabeth Whittaker – were selected to participate in the United Nations Global Compact ‘Young SDG Innovators’ programme.

Over the course of 10 months, the programme brings together talented young professionals from around the world with a passion for sustainability and innovation. Their mission? To combine their collective talents to rethink traditional ways of doing business and develop innovative solutions to achieve the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

We invited Harriet to tell us more.

“When I secured a place to represent Mazars on the United Nations Global Compact ‘Young SDG Innovators’ programme, together with my colleague Elizabeth, I couldn’t have imagined how the world around us would have changed, just a few months into our journey.

The Young SDG Innovators programme had originally been planned in a pre-Covid-19 world. In March, we were set to meet at Mazars’ London office for the latest instalment of our innovation camp ‘Solutions Validation & Testing’. With the current global pandemic scuppering our plans to meet face to face, over 30 programme participants from more than 12 UK companies came together to connect and collaborate via Zoom – not quite the setting we had originally envisaged!

It was a fascinating couple of days, not only because everyone involved was clearly passionate about sustainability, but because the topics that were on our agenda at the start of the year have become more of a priority than ever before, as businesses and organisations respond to the world events developing around us.

Our first morning began with an icebreaker: ‘What is the greatest opportunity that Covid-19 presents to the progression of the SDGs?’

We could have debated and theorised over this particular question all day. But one thing that we did all agree on is that, despite what is happening in the world right now, there are positives to come out of our current situation.

One of the positives that I see is reflected in SDG #17 which is about partnerships.

I find it reassuring that one consequence of world events – which are undeniably overwhelming and unpredictable – is how individuals and companies are coming together to drive positive change to protect each other, our communities and the world around us.

When I have taken on volunteering roles in the past – being a leader with Girlguiding UK, volunteering for a homeless shelter in Edinburgh and being a first aider in Ghana – I have always felt fortunate that, in these ‘typical’ volunteering settings, I have been part of a team.

And the one big positive that I see coming out of this current crisis is the overwhelming recognition that we are all part of a team – the same team. And individuals, clients, charities, communities, and families alike are capable of great actions when working in partnership with one another.

Once the world has collectively come out the other side of this global crisis, I hope we all hold onto this spirit of innovation, community and connectivity, and that we continue to keep the momentum going in accelerating the SDG agenda to drive positive societal change.”

Harriet Walker, Sustainability Executive

If you’d like to find out more about the Young SDG Innovators programme, please visit the UN Global Compact website.
• For more information on the UN Sustainable Development Goals, please click here.

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