UNDP global meeting sets agenda for innovation and progress

16 Nov 2013

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The inaugural Global Innovation Meeting was organized in Budva, Montenegro to take stock of the current state of social innovation both at large and within the UNDP network.  Sessions were dedicated to new approaches to citizen-led design, project setup, monitoring, and iteration.  The event was designed and hosted as a partnership between the UNDP Montenegro Country Office, the UNDP Regional Service Center in Bratislava, the Knowledge Innovation and Capacity Group, of Bureau for Development Policy, the Bureau of Management, and the Regional Bureau for Europe and CIS, 

The event brought together some of the top minds in social innovation and citizen-powered public service reform. Along with these leading thinkers and practitioners, innovation champions from across UNDP’s network, including senior management (ten Resident Coordinators, top executives from Central Bureau) and programme staff representing 16 country offices came together to present their lessons learned, to talk through case studies from outside the organization, and to think about how each participant could take immediate action based on findings from the workshop.   The accent of the meeting was on practical action and learning. The event highlighted practical ways to rethink project design using the perspective of the end user, tap knowledge and know-how from novel sources, and apply new approaches such as collaborative prototyping.

The meeting’s key outcome was a shared vision of a different way to approach development challenges and of what is needed to have UNDP become known as a trusted broker in the field of social innovation.  This vision is presented as The Budva Declaration.

The Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs of Montenegro, Igor Luksic, spoke at the event opening, noting that a commitment to the principles of   innovation and breakthrough had enabled his country to become more resilient, and efforts at engaging citizens in the development of policy had helped the country tackle complex issues.

UNDP Ukraine has presented  a number of innovative projects and demonstrated how to engage local government (municipalities) into the concept of co-creation to deliver services for people in need.

The  global forum was another opportunity for UNDP Ukraine  to showcase its innovation work, to learn from the leading experts and to contribute to the  global discussion on how to make new technologies and innovation improve people’s lives.

The Budva Declaration

We, the participants of the Global Innovation Meeting 2013:

1.      Agreed to work within a simple common framework: ‘Find bottlenecks, scan for what’s been done before, prototype solutions, and then scale-up the prototypes that show results, close out those that don’t.”

2.      Acknowledged that UNDP’s Strategic Plan aspires to making UNDP a more innovative organization. Innovation in the context of the rich tapestry of UNDP’s intervention areas  - towards a green economy, in social protection, delivery systems, and citizens’ role in designing public services;

3.      Recognized that supporting innovation is a long journey that requires the acceptance of small failures in the quest for greater success.

4.      Committed to creating a safe space for staff to do experimentation, learn from failures and share lessons widely.

5.      Emphasized that providing support and license to innovators is the most effective way to support innovation.

6.      Recognized that the spark of innovation can come from anywhere, from think tanks, labs, and citizens, and that UNDP’s role is to seek it out when designing projects that tackle complex development challenges.

7.      Noted that data analysis and data visualization skills are critical to finding transformative impact in issues such as employment, energy and natural resource management;

8.      Pledged to integrate innovation thinking in project and programme design, including the iterative use of prototyping and human-centered design in the “standard way of doing business”;

9.      Committed to expand the network of innovators and communicate successes, failures, lessons-learned and ideas for next time with the wider UNDP network;

10.  Acknowledged UNDP’s opportunity as an enabler of innovation at a local level, providing support to national and municipal governments, can only be realized if partners see a track record of experience.

11.  Emphasized UNDP policies and procedures will need to support “doing business in a different way” and processes will be changed as required in collaboration with country offices;

12.  Resolved that BOM and BDP will look at a design team from operations staff to work on bottlenecks that hinder applying innovation or doing business a different way in practice;

13.  Reaffirmed that Global Policy Centers (Rio, Singapore, Nairobi and others)  will serve as innovation hubs to foster robust partnerships across the UNDP network and beyond.

14.  Acknowledged that UNDP need to innovate to stay relevant to support governments with their complex challenges. 

15.  Reaffirmed to the concept of scaling up and connecting the link between ‘knowledge and innovation’.

16.  Emphasized the importance of including an Innovation session at the 2014 Global Management Meeting.