How technology is helping India move toward smart service delivery

02 Aug 2017 by Jaco Cilliers, Country Director, UNDP India

eVIN is a mobile- and cloud-based application that allows cold chain handlers to update information on vaccine stocks after every immunization session. These updates give health officials an immediate look at vaccine stocks and flows, reducing wastage. Photo:UNDP India/Prashanth Vishwanathan
An innovation being rolled out by India’s Ministry of Health and Family Welfare is making the jobs of thousands of health care workers across the country more efficient and helping to secure the future of millions of women and children. In 2015, India launched eVIN, or electronic vaccine intelligence network — a smart, easy-to-use technology aimed at digitizing vaccine stocks in the country. It’s no small ask in a nation with the largest and most ambitious immunization program in the world — aiming to immunize some 156 million women and children each year. India’s immunization program is not without its challenges. The country’s vast and diverse terrain makes reaching the poorest and most vulnerable a monumental effort. Perhaps the biggest challenge is the absence of real-time information on vaccine stocks and flows, so that health officials are able to make quick and informed decisions. … Read more

Companies are producing more responsibly, more sustainably

14 Jul 2017 by Paula Pelaez, Programme Manager, Business Call to Action

Factory workersMUJI is sourcing wool and wool products from Kyrgyzstan. Photo: MUJI
The world is a riskier place to operate in. Populations are growing and feeding people is becoming trickier. Climate change is challenging our security and ability to make a living. Global markets have become more unstable. For companies, these global trends present both risks and opportunities, requiring them to rethink how to source and produce in a sustainable way. At the Business Call to Action, we work with companies who are applying sustainable principles in their daily operations. What have we learned from them? … Read more

Impact investment to close the SDG funding gap

13 Jul 2017 by Mara Niculescu, Partnership Development Analyst, UNDP Europe and Central Asia

A look at the current state of development funding shows a stark contrast between the price tag to eliminate poverty and protect the planet by 2030, and the actual financial resources that are available. The United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) says achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) will take between US$5 to $7 trillion, with an investment gap in developing countries of about $2.5 trillion. At the same time, the most recent OECD DAC report shows that in 2016 the total official development assistance reached a peak of $142.6 billion, which is one order of magnitude smaller than the needs. Who is going to cover these gaps and how? The days of “funding” (out of a moral imperative) are over; instead, “financing” is seeing good investments for your money, while contributing to positive development. … Read more

Four trends in development innovation

12 Jul 2017 by Benjamin Kumpf, Policy Specialist in Innovation at UNDP

Mapping of the MaldivesDrone assisted mapping mission in the Maldives, a nation facing growing threat from rising sea levels and coastal storms. Photo: Vinita Aggarwal
This week’s High-Level Political Forum in New York will review progress on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG). Its theme “Eradicating poverty and promoting prosperity in a changing world" makes reference to the accelerated pace of change, an indication of the determination UN Member States and agencies have to shift business as usual. As UN Secretary-General António Guterres said in April, “without innovation there is no way to overcome the challenges of our time” and added “to make sure that innovation works for all and not only a few”. Innovation is maturing as a dedicated field within the development and humanitarian sectors. Combining emerging technologies with user-centric, behavioural and lean approaches. Our report ‘Spark, Scale, Sustain’, released this week, highlights how the UN Development Programme (UNDP) is investing to test and scale innovation, with support of the Government of Denmark. … Read more

Innovation for development in Africa: Focus on the public sector

23 May 2017 by Marc Lepage, UNDP Africa regional innovation expert

Innovation in the public sector often occurs as a pressing need arises for a solution that would deliver improved services with tighter budgets, to citizens with increasingly higher expectations. Photo: UNDP Burundi
Over the years there have been many definitions of innovation, which unfortunately left the concept rather belabored. The reality is that it is a journey that governments and public sectors need to undertake – with the aim to change the lives of citizens. For us at UNDP, it is summed up by three principles: 1) No innovation happens in isolation. Innovation exists within a particular context, and is usually prompted and driven by a the ‘need to do better’. 2) Innovation is not high-tech. Innovation is 5% technology and 95% imagination. At a practical level, it is about analysing pressure points and thinking about creative ways of dealing with that. 3) Steal with pride (and learn). In many instances, what constitutes the best knowledge would not be in our immediate or usual environment. It is highly advantageous to venture outside our comfort zone and explore partnerships for improved performance. Innovation in the public sector is not very different from other sectors. It often occurs as a pressing need arises for a solution that would deliver improved services with tighter budgets, to citizens with increasingly higher expectations. … Read more

Better understanding of human behaviour can help achieve the global development agenda

09 May 2017 by Benjamin Kumpf, Innovation Policy Specialist, UNDP and Lori Foster, Professor of Industrial-Organizational Psychology, North Carolina State University

Recycling e-waste: Research shows that people are highly motivated to take actions their peers have also taken, and this knowledge can be used to design people-centred policies to achieve positive results. UNDP photo
Should you take the medication you need every day at the designated time? Should you test your drinking water supply for safety? Should you invest in fertilizer when you know it will increase your yields? Should you save enough for retirement? The answer to these questions, and to others concerned with general matters of personal wellbeing, is clearly yes. Most people want to do what’s best for them. Despite knowing what’s good for them, many people do not take their medication on-time, ensure their drinking water is safe, spend their money on long-term investments or put aside enough for retirement. All too often, we humans postpone important intended actions to tomorrow, pursue information that only reflects our own point of view or unfairly emphasize the latest information we see over older yet relevant data. … Read more

How do you inspire entrepreneurship in a conflict-affected region?

12 Apr 2017 by Janthomas Hiemstra, UNDP Ukraine Country Director and Sofiya Oshchebska, National Coordinator - Crowdfunding Academy, UNDP Ukraine

71 year-old Pavlo, blacksmith from Lugansk, opened his workshop in the Kharkiv region. Photo: UNDP Ukraine
The armed conflict in eastern Ukraine has not only disrupted everyday life in the regions of Donetsk and Luhansk but also led to staggering unemployment. Out of 23 major enterprises in Luhansk region, 19 are currently not operating, while half of the enterprises in the Donetsk region have lost about 950,000 jobs. Supporting employment is challenging in the best of circumstances and far more so in conflict situations. How do you talk about the benefits of entrepreneurship to people who lost everything and, after being displaced, are just trying to find their place in a new community? At UNDP Ukraine’s Recovery and Peacebuilding Programme, we have an ambitious goal: to promote entrepreneurship in Donbas, inspire people who worked all their life in mines and factories to step into the unsure path of entrepreneurship, and make them believe in themselves and their country again. So we decided to start by showing the joy of creating and developing your own business through the stories of ordinary people. Stories of people like us, who, despite all the difficulties, have succeeded. … Read more

Co-creating partnerships to achieve the Global Goals

16 Mar 2017 by Juergen Nagler, UNDP Regional Partnership Advisor for Africa

UNDP partners and stakeholders develop strategic initiatives by consulting with youth, scholars and people working on key development issues. Photo: UNDP
With the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) having significantly raised the bar regarding ambition and universality, there is agreement that we have to go well beyond business as usual. Achieving breakthrough progress in these rapidly-changing times requires a new mind-set and different behavior from all of us. "The greatest danger in times of turbulence is not the turbulence; it is to act with yesterday's logic", said Management Educator, Peter Drucker. Are we ready to step up our logic? What role can each of us play to realize the future we want? As a neutral broker, UNDP increasingly takes innovative approaches to coordinating, coordinating, connecting and co-creating with partners, globally and locally. We live in transformational times with dynamics reinforced by globalization and technological progress causing threats and opportunities on an unprecedented scale. Within this context, multilateral processes are of critical importance for dialogue and coordination to overcome fragmentation and duplication. As UN Secretary-General António Guterres stated, “coordination [is] a permanent must: a results-focused, people-centered and delivery-oriented coordination.” … Read more

How a2i is using empathy to foster innovation in Bangladesh

21 Feb 2017 by Anir Chowdhury, Policy Adviser, Prime Minister’s Office, Bangladesh and Nick Beresford, Country Director, UNDP Cambodia

a2i (short for access to information) helps government officials analyze and redesign workflows within and between ministries. It has established over 5,000 Digital Centres providing internet access throughout the country.
In the last eight years, Bangladesh has established a new development paradigm through its approach to socio-economic development which is high growth yet inclusive, self-reliant yet collaborative, and respectful of heritage yet ambitious in its use of new technologies. The country has moved up to low middle income status but, more importantly by human development indicators it has achieved a level of development commonly predicted for twice its per capita income. The Digital Bangladesh Vision 2021 agenda – the country’s launch pad for achieving the Sustainable Development Goals – is a long-term vision of poverty reduction and human development anchored in govpreneurship (entrepreneurship by the government) and hopes to empower Bangladeshis to co-create solutions to development challenges. Within this, a2i Public Service Innovation Lab+ was established by the Prime Minister’s Office with support from UNDP in 2007 to ensure easy, affordable and reliable access to quality public services which harnesses (but is not limited to) the power of digital. Bangladesh has significant advantages when it comes to harnessing new technologies, particularly as around 50 percent of the population is under the age of 24. Many of these youths have or will have jobs in industries that didn’t exist 20 years ago. They might be app developers, cloud computing experts, block chain specialists or big data analysts. … Read more

Drones join the fight against climate change risks in the Maldives

10 Feb 2017 by Sanny Jegillos, Senior Advisor, Disaster Risk Reduction, UNDP Bangkok Regional Hub

I love drones. I have one that I fly when I want to de-stress. Little did I know when I bought it that I could actually play with it at work! It all started about a year ago. As senior advisor on disaster risk management at UNDP, I was intrigued to explore how new technology and innovation could support my work. My agency’s strong focus on innovation in the Asia-Pacific region, has resulted in some really interesting and outside-the-box initiatives. Some of them include, mobile apps on anti-corruption in Papua New Guinea, recovery and rebuilding in earthquake-affected Nepal and electronic waste recycling in China. … Read more