The Swarovski Foundation celebrated its 10th anniversary at the United Nations Wednesday evening.
The London-based foundation and global partners welcomed the newest cohort of sustainable entrepreneurs for its “Creatives for Our Future Tour” and reception. Per its estimates, the foundation has reached over 2 million people across 93 countries, generating impact and awareness for sustainable innovation. The “Creatives for Our Future” program aligns with the 17 U.N. Sustainable Development Goals, or SDGs, and aims to empower the next generation of talent with 20,000 euros in funding, tools, mentorship and more.
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After a guided tour with the U.N. and Swarovski teams, attendees were dropped off at the delegates dining room for a reception where Amina J. Mohammed, deputy secretary, general of the United Nations (the highest-ranking woman in the U.N.) gave opening remarks.
“This evening, my message really is for young people who are designing and taking hold of their future today. We talk about future generations but we also talk about [how] youth today will embed and root the foundations of why we should care about future generations in a way that we never had to before,” she said. “As partners, creatives and stewards of the planet — we have to work to build a brighter and more sustainable future. It’s clear to everyone now that this is a crisis that crosses borders without notice.”
She called the halfway point to the 2030 agenda a “sober moment” of reflection given how off-track figures remain. “What we do have is the solutions, and that’s why the creatives part of this is so inspiring, and we do have the solidarity because [it’s here in] this room. Therefore, we’re determined to make it work.”
Solutions spanned biomaterials, technology and education. Winners included Stanley Anigbogu, a 23-year-old Nigerian innovator who launched a clean light program for communities; Julieta Gaitan, a 27-year-old Colombian fashion designer using fungi in textiles; J. Sebastian Garcia-Medina, a 27-year-old scientist from the U.S. using bacterial-cellulose in cosmetics; Namra Khalid, a 25-year-old Pakistani cartographer who launched a data program to map flooding; Elenora Ortolani, a 27-year-old innovator from the U.K. eradicating plastic waste with digestion enzymes; and Gunraagh Singh Talwar, a 26-year-old Indian architect who developed an upcycled construction block called “Dumpcrete.”
Architect and program advocate Greg Lynn, founder and owner of Greg Lynn Form and the Creatives For Our Future cohort, also offered insight.
Though this evening was one capstone in the program’s timeline, it certainly wasn’t the only sustainability event convened at the U.N. headquarters this New York Fashion Week. U.S. and Greek cotton growers and ginners were part of a roundtable on textile hardships and opportunities on Tuesday. The International Day of Peace Youth Event took place Thursday afternoon. Just for Swarovski alone, there was a full slate of events including a tour of Brooklyn Navy Yard startup lab Newlab, a visit to the ocean conservation nonprofit Parley for the Oceans, as well as multiple media moments around the U.N. SDGs this week.
Kerry Bannigan, founder and executive director of the Fashion Impact Fund, also convened change makers under the Conscious Fashion Campaign, some of whom were in attendance at the Wednesday reception. She said the media billboard campaign is a testament to “strength and determination” of female founders which hopes to inspire a new narrative of inclusivity and equality within fashion.
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