Inga Rhonda King, president of the UN Economics and Social Council (ECOSOC) speaks while the panel listens. The panel included Dr. Noubar Afeyan, Dr. Ruben Vardanyan, Paolo Galli and Pierre Gurdjian.

IDeA Foundation Shares New Ways of Mobilizing Investments for Sustainable Development Goals


NEW YORK — The Initiatives for Development of Armenia (IDeA) Foundation is seeking to expand its horizons to mobilize investments for implementation of Sustainable Development Goals in Armenia. To further this goal, on January 25, at the United Nations (UN) headquarters, the IDeA Foundation, the UN Development Programme (UNDP) and the Permanent Mission of Armenia to the United Nations held a joint event, titled “Ideas for Impact: Mobilizing Investment for Sustainable Development Goals.”

The event, attended by representatives of the UN Member States, leading philanthropists and impact investors, civil society and diaspora organizations representatives, explored the ways and opportunities to accelerate solutions and innovations contributing to the achievement of the sustainable development goals (SDGs). The 17 SDGs summarize the ambitious agenda set by the United Nations Member States to transform the world by 2030.

The panel discussion opened with welcome remarks by Mher Margaryan, the Permanent Representative of Armenia to the United Nations, followed by Inga Rhonda King, president of the UN Economics and Social Council (ECOSOC).

In his opening remarks, Margaryan highlighted the added value of partnerships for sustainable development – the very idea behind the 2030 agenda and Goal 17, which calls for enhanced synergies for inclusive and collaborative action by the government, the civil society, the private sector in supporting sustainable development efforts. “We are determined to continue to work hand in hand with all partners who are committed to ideas for impact, and, in this context, I would like to thank the IDeA Foundation for commitment and dedication to the UN global goals and the projects implemented in support of the SDGs.”

With Government experience exceeding two decades, Margaryan served as First Secretary to Armenia’s Embassy to the United Kingdom from 2006 to 2009, as head of the United Nations Division at the Department of International Organizations at his country’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs from 2005 to 2006, and Second Secretary to the Armenia’s Mission to the United Nations from 2001 to 2004.  From 2000 to 2001, he served as Third Secretary at the Department of International Organizations at the United Nations Desk in Armenia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, where he also worked as an attaché from 1998 to 1999.

Role of IDeA

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The discussion focused on the role IDeA Foundation can play as a development partner joining efforts with other stakeholders to accelerate and scale up business solutions/innovations contributing to the achievement of SDGs in Armenia, and the role of diaspora in creating effective development cooperation.

In this regard, now on the board of Armenia’s UNDP-supported National SDG Innovation Lab, IDeA is working with Armenians from all walks of life — from local communities to the Armenian diaspora — to strengthen the country’s economy and living standards while preserving its culture and ancestral traditions.

“Learning by doing, bringing in platforms of different partners, such as IDeA Foundation, scaling up solutions and bringing in blended financing are key factors to increase success in development in the 21st century,” said Paolo Galli, Senior Regional Adviser at UNDP’s Regional Bureau for Europe and Central Asia.

In his keynote speech board member of IDeA Foundation, co-founder of Aurora Humanitarian Initiative Noubar Afeyan touched upon the importance of engaging the Armenian diaspora in the implementation SDGs and spoke about the role of IDeA Foundation in that process.

“IDeA’s thoughtful and holistic approach combines economic, social and cultural advantages to address ambitious goals for advancing the prosperity and strengthening the identity of the global Armenian nation. We are fortunate to have at its helm a committed group of leaders from the Armenian diaspora, who bring a diverse collection of talents and expertise,” Afeyan noted.

He explained that at the core of IDeA’s development model is an anchor project that represents a substantial investment and that makes a significant leap in sustainable long-term impact for the Armenian world.

Afeyan is the founder and CEO of Flagship Pioneering, an enterprise that systematically makes breakthrough, life-science innovations which improve human health and sustainability.  During his 30-year career as inventor, entrepreneur and CEO, Dr. Afeyan co-founded and helped build more than 40 successful start-ups. He is currently a lecturer at Harvard Business School and was a senior lecturer at MIT.  He received a Technology Pioneer 2012 award from the World Economic Forum (WEF). He is a member of the Corporation (Board of Trustees) of MIT and a member of the Board of the IDeA Foundation and the UWC Dilijan International School. In 2015, he co-founded the Aurora Humanitarian Initiative.

“IDeA makes its long-term impact on people; lives are changed, enriched, and empowered by the projects that it launches. Ultimately, the most accurate measurements of prosperity and identity are ones that assess our contribution to the human condition,” Ruben Vardanyan, philanthropist, social entrepreneur, co-founder of IDeA Foundation and Aurora Humanitarian Initiative added.

He noted that IDeA stands ready to complement the work and existing responsibilities of the government and civil society organizations, the UN and other development partners.

IDeA foundation has already directed over $585 million of blended finance to development, implementing sustainable projects which have large scale socio-economic impact on Armenia’s advancement. As an example of IDeA’s successful project, the Tatev Revival program key achievements were presented during the event. Back in 2008, IDeA launched the Tatev Revival Program to demonstrate a powerful combination of traditional philanthropy, impact investment, as well as social investment to develop local communities.

Vardanyan serves on the advisory boards of the IFC (World Bank Group) and Fundação Dom Cabral business school in Brazil, board member at Ameriabank, among many others. A prominent financier, he is known both for his commercial projects as well as his philanthropic programs, such as the first UWC college in Eastern Europe (Dilijan, Armenia) and the Tatev Revival Project.  In 2015, Vardanyan co-founded the Aurora Humanitarian Initiative.

Also participating in the program were Paolo Galli and Pierre Gurdjian.

Galli is the senior regional Adviser at the Regional Bureau of Europe and the CIS of the UN Development Programme. Galli brings 30 year experience with the UN system holding various senior positions including as the Director of the Office of the United Nations Secretary-General’s Special Advocate for Inclusive Finance for Development Her Majesty Queen Maxima of the Netherlands, Director of UN and multilateral affairs in UNDP’s Bureau for External Relations and Advocacy, Deputy Director of UNDP’s Washington Liaison Office. Prior to joining the United Nations Paolo worked in the financial sector in London.

Gurdjian is Philanthropy Partner with the RVVZ Foundation. In addition, he is an expert in executive leadership and change management. He is also the President of the Board of Directors of the Université Libre de Bruxelles (ULB), one of Belgium’s largest universities, Vice President of the Board of Directors at UCB (a listed Belgian biopharmaceutical company), member of the Board of Directors at Lhoist (a Belgian industrial company, world leader in limestone production) and member of the Board of Directors at Ameria Bank.


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