Cox Architecture urban designer HY William Chan is set to showcase his social entrepreneurship concept at the UN in New York.

The innovation behind transforming plastic waste from refugee camps into useful 3D-printed objects designed by refugees has landed HY William Chan the opportunity to pitch on the global stage at the United Nations.

Chan, a social entrepreneur and city futures advocate, has been invited to present his year-long fellowship project addressing the global forced migration crisis at the UN Global Goals Week in New York as part of the 73rd session of the UN General Assembly, which begins next week.

The project was developed while he was an executive education and innovation fellow of the World Innovation Summit for Education (WISE).

With the global number of people forcible displaced from their homes at the highest level since World War II, innovation is key to producing disruptive and sustainable solutions for the crisis.

Chan’s initiative aims to build refugees’ capacity in life-shaping skills for the 21st Century and beyond, specifically in design-based problem solving and STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) education.

“By advocating the use of design and emerging technologies, we can inspire and educate refugee communities to be innovative architects of their lives and their environment,” says Chan.

The initiative addresses the UN’s New Urban Agenda and the 2030 Agenda through the Sustainable Development Goals on education, innovation, sustainable cities and communities, and responsible consumption and production.

 “Refugee camps around the world should no longer be viewed as temporary settlements but as our future cities. We need to design these communities with dignity at the core so that refugee camps become hubs of innovation,” says Chan.