Harnessing Innovation and Entrepreneurship in Tourism as drivers of Sustainable Development
UNWTO Side Event: 8th Multi-stakeholder Forum on Science, Technology and Innovation for the Sustainable Development Goals
Date: 3rd May 2023, (8:30 – 9:45 EST, New York time)
Since 2019 the UNWTO, through its department of Innovation, Education and Investments has carried out more than 23 different startup competitions and innovation challenges in order to identify and support high-impact and scalable solutions for tourism development, covering 200 countries from all regions and supporting entrepreneurs to grow by connecting them to funding and pilot-project opportunities.
With UNWTO’s strong commitment to SDG 9, Build resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialization and foster innovation, leading to contributing to the structural transformation where innovation and entrepreneurship stands central. The Side Event hopes to address the solutions created from entrepreneur’s in order to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and tackle the challenges the tourism sector faces.
Zoritsa Urosevic joined UNWTO in 2006 as Executive Secretary of the Business Council. Since 2010, she has led work on positioning tourism in the development cooperation and trade agendas, while strengthening UNWTO’s institutional framework.
From 2015, Ms Urosevic was the UNWTO Special Representative to the United Nations in Geneva and Director of the Institutional Relations and Partnerships Department – providing policy advice for external relations, strategic partnerships and innovative financing to the Secretariat, including integration of the 2030 Agenda and the UN Reform in UNWTO’s strategic work and delivery.
Since the 2020 COVID-19 crisis, she has been supporting the Secretariat leadership with strategic policy advice and economic diplomacy for recovery and resilience of both through tourism. By leveraging the power of the United Nations System and International Finance Institutions.
Natalia Bayona leads the innovation, education and investments strategy of the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), the United Nations specialized agency for the promotion of responsible, sustainable and accessible tourism worldwide.
With a diverse background on politics, destination management and business, she has become the first innovation director at UNWTO, has introduced entrepreneurship and education as key factors for tourism and development, and has positioned UNWTO as an innovation benchmark within the wider United Nations system as recognized in the UN 2020 Mapping of Innovation, Data and Digital Capacities. Furthermore, she has joined the UN Executive Leadership Programme for Sustainable Development led by the UN System Staff Collegue (UNSSC).
José Ricardo Díaz Ardila currently works in the Innovation and Digital Transformation team of the Innovation, Education and Investments Department of the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO). During this period, he has been in charge of the UNWTO Acceleration Programme, the UNWTO Rural Tourism Competition and the UNWTO Sustainable Development Goals Global Startup Competition. His experience includes previous work for the Youth Chapter of the Hotel and Tourism Association of Colombia (COTELCO) and Shangri-La Hotels & Resorts in the Sultanate of Oman. Recently, he has collaborated as Mentor Coordinator for the EUvsVirus Hackathon, a project from the European Commission to find solutions for COVID-19 challenges.
Elena is the Research & Development Lead for SOS Carbon (Dominican Republic). She holds a BS in Marine Science from Universidad de Vigo (Spain) with an exchange in UABC (México) and two MS in Applied Blue Biotechnology from Université de La Rochelle (France) and from Universidad Católica de Valencia (Spain). Currently she's doing an Industrial PhD program in Biotechnology & Biomedicine together with SOS Carbon and the UCV. Elena has worked in several R&D projects related to marine biotechnology and circular bioeconomy.
Francisco Benedito is the CEO and Co-Founder of the startup ClimateTrade. A visionary entrepreneur that founded his first company at the age of 16, he holds a law degree and an MBA completed in France. One of the TOP 100 worldwide Fintech Influencers for Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), Benedito worked in the banking industry for 15 years before founding ClimateCoin, the world's first crypto asset, in 2017. ClimateCoin was presented at COP23 and recognized as one of the best solutions to address climate change in the 2018 UN World Economic and Social Survey. In 2019, Benedito founded ClimateTrade with the purpose of establishing an exponential company focused on sustainability. In 2021, he was recognized as one of the 100 Latinos most committed to climate action, in a ranking developed by Sachamama in collaboration with WWF, The Nature Conservancy, the World Environment Center and various other environmental organizations. And Forbes Spain named him one of 22 business leaders most likely to create disruptive change in 2022.
Dr. Marie BERTHUEL is Product & Communication Manager and cofounder of BeFC : a French Startup creating electricity with papers and enzymes. Her background is Masters and PhD in electrochemistry, biofuel cells and biosensing. She overviews the product strategy and development at BeFC by covering subjects including marketing, business development, product design and engineering as well as supply. Labeled by the UN as a solution for clean and affordable energy, SDG7, BeFC is a part of the UNWTO cohort and continue to match their global goals in terms of sustainability and company values.
Alex Haufschild is the Co-founder of the social impact startup socialbnb that strives to create a fair tourism that benefits everyone. socialbnb supports local projects with social and ecological impact to enter the tourism market. These projects offer accommodations and activities that have positive effects on the local economy in sectors such as: the environment, health, education, animal rescue, community development & marine protection – offered over the socialbnb platform. With this approach the startup’s work is directly tying to a global commitment to contribute to the SDGs. Alex graduated in Geography and Media science at the University of Cologne and worked for several communication and development agencies with focusing on the communication of global sustainability practices.
Linda Adami is an Italian-born political economist with a deep commitment to social impact. She is the founder and CEO of Quantum Temple, a Web3 platform preserving cultural heritage. Linda spent the last ten years in emerging markets across Central America, South East Asia, and the Middle East working at the intersection of international development, public policy, and tech innovation at top-tier private and public institutions.
Before founding Quantum Temple, she was working with the Government of Dubai at the Dubai Future Foundation where she developed public policy and programs to drive the deep tech ecosystem in the Emirate.