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2020-2022 Incubator and Impact Labs

The GDL had to adjust quickly to the unprecedented situation of the COVID-19 pandemic. The 2020/2021 Labs start with a virtual Incubator phase, preparing participants for an on site Impact phase in 2021. All Labs have been extraordinary from the very beginning, as they are organised and implemented by GDL members.

The Impact of Urban Design on Inclusive Cities
GDL Lab in Mumbai, India

Incubator Lab: October 2020 – June 2021 (online)
Impact Lab: Spring 2022 (on site)

Hosted by the Red Dot Foundation, the Lab in India, co-organised by GDL members Elsa Marie D’Silva, Eirliani Abdul Rahman and Rudrani Dasgupta, will invite participants to think about the impact of urban design on inclusive cities, and to contribute to building a more inclusive and safer city for all inhabitants. The Lab will bring participants to Mumbai – a city defined by its staggering contrasts: a city of dreams for some, a slum for others. Taking into account SDGs 5, 11 and 17, the Lab aims to provide an insight into how to examine intersectionality as well as to improve governance and accountability for the city in the long run. This Lab will be an excellent opportunity to develop and try out a model for an inclusive city that could also be applied elsewhere.

The 100 Million Stars Labs

Incubator Lab: July 2021 (online)
Impact Lab: December 2021 (at the EXPO2020 in Dubai)

Given the projected demographic change in the Arab world and Africa and the resulting “youth bulge”, these regions are expected to experience a 100 million youth unemployment challenge in the next ten years. 

The 100 Million Stars initiative, was initiated by GDL Member Nihel Chabrak, CEO of the UAEU Science and Innovation Park. It is aimed at transforming the 100 million unemployed young people in the Arab world, Africa and the South Asia region (AWASAR) into 100 million shining stars, thus mitigating the risk of youth radicalisation in these regions. The 100 Million Stars Labs are supported, among others, by the Federal Foreign Office.

Public Diplomacy to address the Human Mobility and Development Nexus in Northern Central America and the South-Southeast of Mexico
GDL Lab in Mexico City, Mexico

Incubator Lab: June & July 2021 (online)
Impact Lab: September 2021 (online)

Organised by GDL member Edna Martinez and hosted by UNDP Mexico, this Lab aims to co-design a proof of concept for the collective implementation of the Comprehensive Development Plan in order to examine the phenomenon of ongoing migration on the border between El Salvador, Guatemala and Mexico from the perspectives of sustainability, social justice and economic growth. Defining migration as a multidimensional phenomenon, the Lab will profit from the diversity of its participants and offer new approaches to fostering transnational cooperation between non-government actors that could also be used in other fields. As part of UNSD in Mexico, UNDP aims to be an agile key partner in supporting innovative and effective collaboration that promotes people-centred development solutions.

The Role of Local Communities in the Context of Global Affairs
GDL Lab in Făgăraș, Romania

Incubator Lab: December 2020 December 2021 (online)
Impact Lab: Spring 2022 (on site)

The forthcoming Lab in Romania will be organised by GDL member Stefan Cibian. Hosted by the Făgăraș Research Institute and supported by many local partner organisations, ranging from the Town Hall to civil society organisations and the churches, participants will be encouraged to ask critical questions about the role of local communities – such as the local community of Făgăraș, Romania – in the context of global affairs. These smaller towns – small in local population, but large in number if one considers the global context – often remain invisible in the context of questions relating to security, but also in terms of achievement of the SDGs. The Lab thus aims to do crucial work in relation to rural communities and their role in international relations and the potential they may offer to refine diplomatic practice.

Elsa Marie D’Silva

Elsa Marie D’Silva is the founder and CEO of Red Dot Foundation (Safecity), a platform that crowdsources personal experiences of sexual violence and abuse in public spaces. Since Safecity started in December 2012, it has become the largest crowd map on the issue in India, Kenya, Cameroon and Nepal.

Elsa Marie is an alumna of the US State Department’s Fortune Program, a fellow with Rotary Peace, Aspen New Voices and Vital Voices, and a BMW Foundation Responsible Leader. She is listed as one of BBC Hindi’s 100 Women. Moreover, she has won the Female Entrepreneur of the Year Award launched by Dušan Stojanović (European Angel Investor of the Year 2013) and the SheThePeople’s Digital Woman Award in Social Impact.

Prior to Safecity, she spent 20 years in the aviation industry, where she worked with Jet Airways and Kingfisher Airlines. In her last role in aviation, she was Vice President Network Planning.


Read more about Elsa's work at Safecity and see for yourself in this documentary. She also has a very clear vision for the Global Diplomacy Lab.

Eirliani Abdul Rahman

Eirliani Abdul Rahman is co-founder of YAKIN (Youth, Adult Survivors & Kin In Need), an NGO working in the field of child rights and child protection issues, and a member of Twitter’s Safety & Trust Council. 

In September 2015, the #FullStop to #childsexualabuse campaign that Eirliani led on behalf of Nobel Peace Prize laureate Kailash Satyarthi reached 16 million people over six weeks. She won the BMW Foundation Responsible Leaders Award the same year.

Eirliani edited Nobel Peace Prize laureate Kailash Satyarthi’s book Will for Children, a collection of essays on child labour published in 2016. Her book on true accounts by survivors of child sexual abuse Survivors: Breaking the Silence on Child Sexual Abuse was published by Marshall Cavendish in 2017. It won joint second prize in the 2020 Golden Door Awards.

She also contributed a case study to the medical textbook Essentials of Global Health, co-edited by Babulal Sethia, Past President and Global Health Lead of the Royal Society of Medicine, which was published by Elsevier in London in 2018. The book won first prize in the Public Health category at the 2019 British Medical Association book awards.

Eirliani was in the Singapore Foreign Service from 2005 to 2015, serving in Berlin as First Secretary (Political) and then in Delhi as Political Counsellor. From June 2015 to November 2017, she was a member of the Advisory Council of the Global Diplomacy Lab. She is a Fellow of the London-based Royal Society for the Encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce.

Eirliani lives in Singapore. She speaks Malay, English, German and Russian.


Read more about Eirliani in her latest blog article. You can also read her articles about her polar expedition and about human trafficking and learn more about her workactivism and contribution to the Gender Alliance.

Rudrani Dasgupta

Rudrani Dasgupta works with ActionAid India, an international non-profit aiming to eliminate poverty. Having graduated from University College London with a Masters in sociology (childhood and children’s rights) on a full scholarship, she is now a child rights researcher primarily interested in exploring the long-term impact of structural violence on children, especially in education and family.

She is currently coordinating a state-level study examining the impact of domestic violence on children. Recently, she was part of a state-level committee that drafted a school safety policy for the state of West Bengal in India.

Rudrani has been mentoring young people across the geosocial-economic spectrum ever since she spent two years working in a remote Himalayan school for first generation learners. She also takes a personal interest in mentoring young people from non-traditional and non-linear backgrounds.


Nihel Chabrak

Prof. Chabrak from United Arab Emirates University is UAE team leader for the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor programme and CEO of the UAEU Science & Innovation Park. She is in charge of the university pavilion for Dubai Expo 2020 and was coordinator of the Dubai Decleration for sustainable finance, an initiative of UNEP FI. She is passionate about creating values-driven start-ups and ecosystem conditions for a new quality of growth to eradicate poverty and promote inclusiveness as conditions for fighting radicalisation.

She has created several success stories and youth role models, many of which have won prizes including the Mohamed Bin Rashid Award for the best university promoting entrepreneurship (2018), the Global Pitch@Palace People Award (2017), a special mention from the jury of the Falling Walls Venture (2017), and the Singularity University MENA Global Impact Challenge (2017).

Her research focuses on governance for sustainability and quality of life. She is currently coordinating research projects on the design of sustainable financial systems and on the wellbeing of visually impaired students. She teaches accounting, corporate governance, CSR, entrepreneurship and innovation.


Edna Elizabeth Martinez Quintanilla

Edna Martinez is an enthusiastic consultant in sustainable development and public policy.

For over a decade, Edna has worked in designing, developing and implementing public policies focused on sustainability. She has adapted international agendas to the Mexican context, such as sustainable production and consumption, waste management, eco-labelling and, most recently, the 2030 Agenda most commonly known as the Sustainable Development Goals.

Edna worked in the Mexican Ministry of Environmental and Natural Resources for over five years, where her proudest achievements include the development of a National Strategy and a Special Program in Sustainable Production and Consumption. She has collaborated with UNDP and the Office of the Presidency in the design of the Implementation Strategy of the SDGs for Mexico and for FAO in the Foresight of the Agricultural Sector. Edna has also co-written a public policy recommendation for the T20 when chaired by Germany. She also finds great satisfaction in sharing knowledge digitally, in open forums and teaching in universities.

Edna is currently part of a project that is creating an offsite space for co-creation, team building and workshop spaces for international and local organizations. This space, known as Mineralito, is in a tranquil rural area, surrounded by beautiful green landscapes and natural reserves. Knowledge sharing and designing and creating sustainable lifestyles is what inspired Mineralito. This project has turned Edna into an avid researcher of bio-construction in the creation of this magical place, where everything is designed and built with sustainability in mind and shared to be replicated.

Edna was raised in the North of Mexico, growing up both in a rural town and in Monterrey, the second largest city of Mexico. Edna currently lives in Mexico City, but she prefers the loud grandiosity and the noble silence of the natural environment.

Stefan Cibian

Stefan Cibian believes that together we can generate social change and inspire our communities. He is passionate about bringing together global experiences and everyday local activities and does this through his work in research, consulting and volunteering.

Stefan has a background in development, international relations, political science and law and received his MA and a PhD from Central European University. His research focuses on peacebuilding, statehood and development in Africa. He is also involved in civil society activities, focusing on community development and resilience. Stefan is director at Cibian Consulting and co-initiator of the Făgăraş Research Institute. He is a visiting lecturer in international development at Babeş-Bolyai University.

Previously Stefan was an Academy Robert Bosch Fellow at the Queen Elizabeth II Academy for Leadership in International Affairs, Chatham House.

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