Unbounded Associates and Chemonics International Promote Youth-Centered Green Workforce Development

Jun 12 2022

Climate change and the impacts it will have on current and future generations of young people around the world is a pressing topic for international development organizations, large and small. For Chemonics International and Unbounded Associates (UA), the intersection of climate change and youth was a clear nexus for collaboration between the two organizations. 

At a matchmaking event hosted by the Small Business Association for International Companies (SBAIC), Chemonics and Unbounded Associates connected over their shared technical focus on applying evidence-based and context-specific practices to improving the lives of children and families around the world. The two firms also share a commitment to learning from and designing with young people in the work they do, and increasing youth agency in the development space.  As a large, international company working across Africa, Asia, Europe and Eurasia, Latin America and the Caribbean, and the Middle East, and specializing in a wide range of technical areas, nearly all of Chemonics’ work has a direct or indirect impact on young people.

As a women-owned small business (WOSB), Unbounded Associates provides targeted technical expertise to donors, multilateral agencies, non-governmental organizations, governments, networks, and researchers, helping clients find strategic ways to increase impact and chart new paths in the global development space. UA employs a small, agile team of technical specialists for projects including education for climate action, early childhood development, gender equality and women’s empowerment, and instructional design, and maintains a network of consultants around the world to support culturally appropriate and locally relevant work that engages on-the-ground stakeholders.

Recognizing the increasingly urgent need for development projects to integrate climate change and youth livelihoods as cross-cutting issues, Chemonics reached out to Unbounded Associates to explore how the two firms could combine their individual strengths to create a global public good to support the entire development community in addressing climate change through a “just, green transition” to more sustainable and equitable ways of working, doing, and being. The collaboration evolved into the development of an Action Guide for Youth-Centered Green Workforce Development Initiatives (final title TBD), a practical resource for international development organizations and donors to receive recommendations directly from young people around the world on what is needed to support youth in developing green skills and accessing and succeeding in green jobs amidst a transition to an equitable green economy. The Guide will be released later this year and includes the voices of youth green entrepreneurs and climate activists from Sub-Saharan Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean, and Southeast Asia, as well as insights from ten Chemonics-implemented projects that focus on climate change across four different technical sectors: Education and Youth, Environment and Natural Resources, Economic Growth and Trade, and Agriculture and Food Security. The Guide also includes a thorough literature review and landscape analysis of the current job projections and youth workforce trends across these sectors.

The collaboration between Unbounded Associates and Chemonics on the Action Guide allowed Unbounded Associates to build on their existing work at the nexus of education and climate change, which includes authoring the Plan International Youth Leadership in Climate Policy Workbook and Facilitator’s Guide and the climate-focused work of UA Research Director Christina Kwauk, such as A New Green Learning Agenda and the Climate Change Education Ambition Report Card. Throughout their work on climate education, UA maintains a critical focus on issues of climate justice, equity, and inclusion, engaging youth directly to inform their research and consulting climate change stakeholders across organizations and institutions. Their demonstrated expertise in the climate space, emphasis on justice, equity, and inclusion, and proven skills in consulting with stakeholders to enrich their research and reporting made Unbounded Associates a clear choice for partnering with Chemonics on the Action Guide. UA’s small size and tight team also helped enable their timeliness in producing deliverables and nimbleness in responding to feedback from Chemonics. In addition, Chemonics’ institutional resources, past and present project experience across sectors and regions, and expert personnel spanning key technical areas made it possible for Unbounded Associates to deliver on a project with an ambitious scope and wide-reaching potential impact.

Working together to develop a resource for the international development community at large, Chemonics International and Unbounded Associates leveraged their individual strengths and demonstrated the potential for big and small businesses to partner on impactful work. Certainly, this partnership will not end with the publishing of the Action Guide, and we hope to continue tackling these global issues together in the future!

Young students learning about climate change at the 2019 Kenya Space Chapter
  • Photo Credit: Dorah, Nesoba, SERVIR Eastern and Southern Africa, Regional Center for Mapping of Resources for Development (RCMRD)