Children in Gaza are in desperate need.
Donate today
19 September 2023

Young social innovators and creators will design our digital future at South by Southwest (SXSW®) Sydney 2023 as part of the ‘We the Future’ partnership with UNICEF Office of Innovation.

The October event is the first time in its 37-year history that SXSW® will be held outside Austin, Texas, and the partnership with UNICEF will see a surge of young people involved in all aspects of the ‘Tech and Innovation’ track of the conference, including a dedicated youth super panel, and a youth only Future Lab event.

Colin Daniels, Managing Director SXSW Sydney said: “The SXSW Sydney Conference, Expo and Festivals will be a week-long incubator of discovery and future-forward discussion. We are thrilled to be collaborating with UNICEF to amplify the next generation of thought leaders and innovators shaping their digital future.”

UNICEF will present five sessions at the conference, with a focus on science and technology initiatives designed for and with young people. These are:

  • NxtWave Futures Lab: youth only event to design the digital future
  • Datafied from birth: Gen Z’s reckoning with the Information Age
  • Lab to Life: Saving lives from a nano lab in a poverty-stricken province
  • The pursuit of radical JOI (Just Open Innovation): putting tech users at the heart of creation
  • 2050 Unveiled: A youth's vision of the future

Young people participating at the NxtWave Futures Lab will contribute and workshop ideas to create a more inclusive and safe digital landscape, with concepts to be included in the United Nations (UN) Global Digital Compact at the 2024 Summit of the Future in New York.

Aston Hawkins-Nicholls, UNICEF Australia Young Ambassador for digital wellbeing and safety, said the event is the first step towards a more inclusive future where every young person has the right to be heard and the power to make a difference.

"Our online world offers a wealth of opportunity for learning and connecting but not everyone can benefit equally. I’m really looking forward to meeting other young people at SXSW Sydney 2023 to hear their ideas on a better digital future and working together on how we can get there."

Photo of Aston Hawkins-Nicholls
Aston Hawkins-Nicholls
UNICEF Australia Young Ambassador

The youth-only NxtWave Futures Lab will be the flagship event of the ‘We the Future’ initiative where participants will be immersed in an innovative setting that encourages them to think, live, and act as if they are experiencing the digital future firsthand. This immersive, experiential learning experience will help young participants to not just envision a better future, but also understand the pathway towards achieving it.

Thomas Davin, Director of UNICEF Office of Innovation said: “Young people are the architects and builders of our collective digital future. Yet they experience a global digital paradox; some are digital natives and others have restricted or limited digital access.

"For a safe, open, and equitable digital future, it is critical to ensure the global diversity of young people are heard, inclusively equipped with skills and opportunities, and their ingenuity supported. We are excited to align with the SXSW community in this shared purpose."

Thomas Davin
Director of UNICEF Office of Innovation

Young people interested in participating in the sessions designed by and for young people are encouraged to apply. UNICEF Australia is calling on young people aged 18-25 years, with a passion for innovation in technology to register their interest in participating here: