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This past Friday's Wharton Nation Brand Conference featured speakers discussing nation branding's effect on international trade.

Credit: Zach Sheldon

A Wharton competition is linking students — even at the high school level — directly with the World Bank.

Spearheaded by Wharton senior fellow and professor Djordjija Petkoski, the competition is part of the Ideas for Action Initiative, which was started in 2014 through a partnership between Wharton’s Zicklin Center and the World Bank Group. Ideas for Action sponsors competitions for both young adults and high school students to submit proposals with their ideas to help implement the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals. Members of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund vote on the best proposals.

In two years, the competition has grown to include 490 teams from over 120 countries — the winner of the 2016 competition was from Nigeria. Their solutions have global applications — ideas that are created for specific regions end up being applicable to other regions as well, Wharton senior Marie Wiegert said.

The initiative also has partnerships around the world, from Australia to Eastern Europe to other universities like Cornell and Harvard.

There is more to Ideas for Action than just the two competitions — it also has an accelerator program which helps finalists implement their ideas.

The group is currently working on developing three ideas created by past finalists, said Wharton and Engineering junior Joe Kupferberg, who leads the accelerator.

The initiative also has a program known as the global classroom, which helps facilitate discussions on how to implement the United Nations' sustainable development goals.

To maintain its high growth rate, the club’s marketing department has led intensive outreach efforts, both in and outside of Penn.

“What we’re trying to do now in the marketing committee is increase our outreach in general,” College and Wharton sophomore Walid Beramdane said. “We’re looking for basically anyone. What we want to do is have this debate and conversation around the [sustainable development goals]."

Wiegert said the organization is planning to work with corporate partners to help them solve problems.

"For instance, if PepsiCo has a problem with waste management in Chile, then we can have that as a special category within the competition," she said.

The competition is expecting a large increase in competing teams for this year's competition, Weigert said, expressing her hope that the group would continue to grow.

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