UNLEASH 2018 - The story of Robert van der Heijden | Deloitte Nederland


UNLEASH - The story of Robert van der Heijden

Looking back at UNLEASH 2018

As part of Deloitte's global WorldClass initiative, Deloitte is collaborating with UNLEASH to bring together the brightest young minds to develop new solutions to the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Read the story of one of our facilitators at UNLEASH 2018, Robert van der Heijden.

For the second year in a row, Deloitte was the lead innovation partner of UNLEASH 2018, which took place from May 30 until June 6 in Singapore. This annual summit brought together 1,000 inspiring young people from around the world to develop actionable solutions to the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Deloitte sent a global team of facilitators to deliver a 5-day SDG Innovation lab for the participants. This lab took the participants from ideation through to action, and culminated in an award ceremony where a number of winning solutions were showcased and awarded funding or consultancy support to bring their SDG ambition to life.

During UNLEASH 2018, Robert van der Heijden, Senior Consultant at Deloitte Center for the Edge, was a facilitator at the SDG 13 track Climate Action.


Why were you interested in UNLEASH?

Since many years, I am fascinated by the potential of corporate innovation and startups to contribute to the transition to a sustainable society. Inspired by e.g. Naomi Klein’s bestseller ‘This Changes Everything’ and Kate Raworth’s ‘The Dougnut Economy,’ I believe we need fundamentally different businesses and practices in order to thrive in the future.

As such, joining 1.000 passionate talents from more than 100 countries at UNLEASH and supporting them to co-create and develop solutions for the Sustainable Development Goals, was a great and very exciting opportunity for me. I feel privileged that I was selected as facilitator, and I am very enthusiastic that Deloitte is the lead innovation partner of UNLEASH.

What was your role at UNLEASH?

I was a facilitator at the SDG 13 track Climate Action. Climate change presents the single biggest threat to development, and urgent action is required to combat climate change and minimize its devastating impacts.

I helped talents to really understand the problem they were trying to solve. It can be hard to come up with solutions for broad challenges, e.g. helping teachers to raise climate action awareness. After defining the underlying problem and target area, I helped them to look at their solutions from different perspectives and to consider the:

  • Desirability (is there demand?)
  • Viability (is it worth it?)
  • Feasibility (can we do it?) 
  • Potential impact

With all the different backgrounds, cultures and expertise, I supported teams to listen, understand and build on each other’s strengths and skills.

I also stressed the importance to actually get in touch with potential users and partners to test assumptions. I’m really proud that teams picked up the phone, and for example talked to high school teachers in rural Zambia, VR experts, and one team even secured commitment from an organization to support their solution with resources.

What impact did UNLEASH have on you?

It is amazing to work with so many talented people from different backgrounds and support them in co-creating solutions for the Sustainable Development Goals. I have learned a lot from my fellow facilitators from Deloitte, UNDP and local organizations ánd the talents. I believe the unleashed passion, creativity and friendships during the innovation lab, will have a lasting impact.

Personally, I am committed to spread this mindset around innovation, co-creation and social impact and put it into practice. I believe we can achieve the Sustainable Development Goals, but we really need all organizations, governments, NGOs and people to step up and work together so we can prosper today and in the future.

Robert van der Heijden | Senior Consultant Deloitte Center for the Edge


More information

For questions about Robert's experience at UNLEASH 2018, please contact him via the details below. For general questions about UNLEASH or Worldclass, please send an email to NLFoundation@deloitte.nl.

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