June 29, 2024

Empowering Youth for Sustainable Futures - Entrepreneurship Education and Youth Engagement

Empowering Youth for Sustainable Futures
In this article:
The Republic of Cyprus hosted the first United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) Regional Forum on Education for Sustainable Development (ESD).
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Empowering Youth for Sustainable Futures - Entrepreneurship Education and Youth Engagement

The Republic of Cyprus hosted the first United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) Regional Forum on Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) with a focus on Education for Sustainable Development, green and sustainable innovation and entrepreneurship as an important pillar for a sustainable future. The Forum was held from 27 to 28 June 2024 in Limassol, Cyprus, at the PARKLANE Hotel. The Forum was organized by the Republic of Cyprus, with the support of the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE), in cooperation with the Government of Switzerland and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).

Participants included high-level officials, youth representatives from public and private institutions, international and regional organisations, non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and other stakeholders from the 56 UNECE member countries. The Forum aspires to be a bridge of cooperation and a platform for communication on Sustainable Development Education (SDE), providing valuable insights and examples of how SDE can contribute to empowering young people in the field of sustainable entrepreneurship and innovation. In this context, issues will be addressed in relation to how ERA, having sustainable innovation as a key pillar, can contribute to empowering young people for a sustainable future.

The outcomes of the forum will feed into the consultations and discussions ahead of the upcoming Future Summit to be held in September 2024 in New York.

Kykloikodromio was pleased and honoured to participate in the discussion of the session: "How to link entrepreneurship and SD development: opportunities and dangers", moderated by Prof. Dr. Susan Müller, Professorin für Entrepreneurship, and panelists Dr Athina Georgiou Shippi, Head, NGO KyklOIKOdromio, Hugo Valdes-Vera, Founder, Think Ocean CIC, Ms. Laurentia Filipschi, Executive Director, Junior Achievement Moldova and Ms. Laura Poghosyan, Youth Worker, ALTERALAB Youth Center, Armenia.

In her intervention, Dr. Athina Georgiou Shippi from KyklOIKOdromio, in response to the question "Entrepreneurship is often seen as a key driver of innovation and economic growth, while sustainable development focuses on meeting the needs of the present without compromising the future. As we explore the intersection of these two critical areas, what are the unique opportunities that arise when entrepreneurs engage with sustainability and what potential challenges should we be aware of?" she said the following:

Entrepreneurship is indeed a vital catalyst for innovation and economic growth, and when aligned with the principles of sustainable development, it can lead to transformative changes that benefit both the economy and the environment. As we delve into the intersection of entrepreneurship and sustainability, several unique opportunities and potential challenges emerge:

  • Entrepreneurs can drive the development and deployment of innovative green technologies, such as renewable energy solutions, energy-efficient products, and sustainable materials. These innovations can help reduce environmental footprints and address pressing global challenges like climate change and resource depletion.
  • Sustainable practices can open up new markets and consumer segments. There is a growing demand for environmentally friendly products and services, and businesses that prioritize sustainability can attract eco-conscious customers and gain a competitive edge. Here we can provide the example of our business idea that started last December and is related with the opening of the first Library of Things in Cyprus, which aims the rental instead of buying items. Aims new market segment, however the idea to be successful faces challenges especially those related to high initial cost.
  • There is an increasing availability of funding and support for sustainable ventures from governments, non-profits, and private investors. Grants, subsidies, and impact investment funds are often directed towards businesses that aim to achieve social and environmental goals alongside financial returns.

However, there some challenges the Entrepreneurs have to face:

Sustainable business practices and technologies can require higher initial investments compared to conventional methods. Entrepreneurs need to carefully manage these upfront costs and find ways to demonstrate the long-term value and return on investment to stakeholders.

Navigating the complex landscape of environmental regulations and compliance requirements can be challenging. Entrepreneurs must stay informed about local, national, and international standards and ensure their operations meet all necessary legal obligations.

Changing consumer behavior and convincing a broader audience to adopt sustainable choices can be difficult. Entrepreneurs need to invest in education and marketing efforts to effectively communicate the benefits of their sustainable offerings.

Ensuring sustainability across the entire supply chain can be complex. Entrepreneurs must work closely with suppliers and partners to implement sustainable practices and verify that their products are genuinely environmentally friendly and ethically produced.

Entrepreneurs may face the challenge of balancing profitability with sustainability goals. It is essential to integrate sustainability into the core business strategy in a way that aligns with financial objectives and drives overall business growth.

We can provide the example of young entrepreneur in Cyprus which started a small business by collecting plastics making tiles and other products but still is straggling with strict product regulations.


Engaging with sustainability presents entrepreneurs with unique opportunities to innovate, tap into new markets, achieve cost savings, enhance their brand, and access funding. However, it also brings challenges related to costs, regulations, market acceptance, supply chain management, and balancing profitability with sustainability. By addressing these challenges thoughtfully and strategically, entrepreneurs can contribute to a more sustainable future while driving economic growth and innovation.


This was followed by questions from the audience.

Following the discussion of the session: "How to link entrepreneurship and SD development: opportunities and dangers", we would like to refer to the question “What does this mean for ESD/entrepreneurship education?”

The integration of sustainability into entrepreneurship education (often referred to as Education for Sustainable Development, or ESD) has profound implications for how we prepare future entrepreneurs to tackle global challenges and seize new opportunities. Here are the key points on what this means for ESD and entrepreneurship education:

Entrepreneurship education programs should integrate the principles of sustainable development into their curricula. This includes teaching students about the environmental, social, and economic dimensions of sustainability and how these can be balanced in business practices.

Programs should adopt an interdisciplinary approach, blending knowledge from environmental science, social sciences, economics, and business studies. This helps students understand the complex interconnections between different aspects of sustainability and how they impact business decisions.

Hands-on learning experiences, such as internships with sustainable businesses, field trips to eco-friendly companies, and projects focused on real-world sustainability challenges, can provide students with practical insights and skills.

Entrepreneurship education should emphasize the importance of innovation in creating sustainable solutions. Students should be encouraged to develop new products, services, and business models that address environmental and social issues.

Encouraging students to engage with their local communities to understand local sustainability challenges and develop solutions that are context-specific and impactful.

Connecting students with networks of sustainable entrepreneurs, mentors, and industry experts can provide valuable guidance and support. This helps students build relationships that can be crucial for launching and scaling sustainable ventures.


Incorporating sustainability into entrepreneurship education is essential for preparing future business leaders to drive innovation and economic growth in a way that is environmentally responsible and socially equitable. This requires a holistic approach to curriculum development, fostering a culture of ethical leadership, providing practical learning experiences, and creating ecosystems that support sustainable entrepreneurship. By doing so, we can equip the next generation of entrepreneurs with the knowledge, skills, and values needed to build a more sustainable and resilient future.

Moreover, we would also like to mention that there are several frameworks and models designed to guide entrepreneurs in making decisions that are both economically viable and environmentally responsible. These frameworks help integrate sustainability into business strategy and operations, ensuring a balance between economic performance and environmental stewardship. Here are some of the key frameworks and models:

  • The Triple Bottom Line framework encourages businesses to focus on three key areas: People, Planet, and Profit. This model expands the traditional reporting framework to take into account social and environmental performance in addition to financial performance.
  • Circular Economy Model. The Circular Economy model promotes a regenerative system where resources are reused, remanufactured, and recycled, creating a closed-loop system that minimizes waste and maximizes resource efficiency. Some examples could be the design for longevity, resource recovery, product as a service, reuse and repair.
  • ESG (Environmental, Social, and Governance) Criteria: ESG criteria are used by investors to evaluate the sustainability and ethical impact of an investment in a company. Entrepreneurs can use ESG criteria to align their business practices with broader sustainability goals.
  • Shared Value Model. The Shared Value model focuses on creating economic value in a way that also creates value for society by addressing its needs and challenges. Includes: Innovating products and services to meet societal needs and  Supporting the development of local communities and infrastructure.


These frameworks and models provide entrepreneurs with a comprehensive approach to integrating sustainability into their business strategies. By adopting these principles, entrepreneurs can make decisions that are economically viable, environmentally responsible, and socially beneficial, ultimately contributing to a more sustainable future.

We would like to thank the organisers for the invitation and we are sure that the participants gained useful information for their future course.

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The "kyklOIKOdromio" is founded with the aim and vision of protecting the environment and is dedicated to the memory of the distinguished teacher Elli Themistokleous Achilleos.
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