Open Innovation Challenges find new perspectives and solutions to complex problems

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Students in Moldova are providing feedback on ideas developed during the EduSoft Challenge. Photo: Moldova

This week, UNDP launched a new policy. Another set of rules is usually not an occasion to celebrate. But this one is, because it mirrors what innovation can look like. UNDP tackles the toughest development challenges in the world. And we’re committed to finding the best-fit solutions to those challenges. Sometimes the best ideas come from outside our walls. The new policy formally makes “Open Innovation Challenges” a part of UNDP’s procurement rules, so offices can find and fund great solutions from any source. An Open Innovation Challenge is a structured process to find new solutions. Broadly it goes like this: identify a development problem, create and publicize an Open Innovation Challenge with prizes for solving that problem, get the most capable participants to compete, and offer the reward to the winner. Such an Open Challenge can also help to reveal more about the problem itself.… Read more

A legacy of private sector engagement for sustainable development

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For 50 years, UNDP has worked with the private sector to create jobs, establish value chains and build infrastructure. Photo: BUTGEM

As the engine of growth in most developing and developed countries, the private sector contributes to poverty reduction indirectly by creating aggregate income and wealth, and directly by generating employment and providing affordable goods and services. For 50 years, UNDP has worked with the private sector and in collaboration with national governments, to create jobs, establish value chains, build infrastructure and forge public policy and regulation that advance both national goals and the global development agenda.… Read more

Transforming local communities amidst conflict

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Local woman, of a family of six, is interviewed at the market place in Rutshuru, North Kivu. Photo: UNDP DRCongo

I’ve visited Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo several times over the last seven years. During this time, two violent conflicts took place between rebels and the Congolese state, with the citizens caught in between. The recurrent fighting for control of the mineral rich and fertile soils of Eastern Congo has uprooted and traumatized whole communities, leaving the local economy in ruins and people poor and powerless. Most valuable are cassiterite and coltan, used in the electronic equipment and cell phones underpinning the technological revolution.… Read more

How abnormal is normal?

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A woman carrys kids on her motorbikes through the street of Viet Nam. It’s a common rush-hour scene, where after-work routines for many women involve picking up kids, shopping for groceries, cooking, cleaning, and helping kids with homework. Photo: Nguyen Viet Lan/UNDP Viet Nam

Women zip through the streets, carrying kids and groceries on their motorbikes. It’s a common rush-hour scene on the streets of Viet Nam, where after-work routines for many women involve picking up kids, shopping for groceries, cooking, cleaning, and helping kids with homework. Existing stereotypes in Viet Nam confine women and men to certain roles, positions and careers. According to a UNDP report on women’s leadership in Viet Nam, few women achieve senior government positions. In the civil service, women hold very few senior posts: only nine percent ministers, eight percent vice ministers, and seven percent at director-general level.… Read more

Since 1966, UNDP has worked for a more fair and prosperous world for all

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Park rangers in Band-e-Amir National Park, where UNDP runs projects with the Wildlife Conservation Society and the Global Environment Fund’s Small Grants Programme to protect the environment and provide clean energy to local residents. Photo: Robert Few / UNDP Afghanistan

Fifty years ago, one in every three people around the world was living in poverty. It was against that backdrop that the United Nations Development Programme, UNDP, was founded in 1966. Ever since, UNDP has been a leader in working for a more fair and prosperous world for all. We have worked with governments, civil society, the private sector, and philanthropy to empower people and build resilient nations. As UNDP begins its second half century, the numbers of people in poverty have decreased to around one in eight. UNDP is proud to have worked with many partners committed to poverty eradication.… Read more

Timely rejuvenation of the African Peer Review Mechanism?

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Efforts should be made to include all segments of society in the APRM process. UNDP Photo

Six years before the 2014 Burkina Faso uprising, the country’s African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM) report identified “omnipresent weight and domination of the majority, which seems to ‘block’ the democratic system and stifle multiparty politics”. The assessment called on authorities to “provide appropriate responses and solutions to bring about the necessary change”. In South Africa, the 2007 APRM report stated that “xenophobia against other Africans is currently on the rise and should be nipped in the bud.” Dozens of migrants have since lost their lives in attacks.… Read more

The return of the Eastern European middle class

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Nino Narmania in a tailoring workshop, part of the practical training put in place through an overhaul of Georgia's professional education system. (Photo: UNDP/Daro Sulakauri)

The headlines emerging from Davos this year show that concerns about inequalities are continuing to grow. According to Oxfam's latest report, the billionaires that are as rich as half of humanity can now fit on a bus. In 2010 they would have required a Boeing. But the picture is in many ways much more complex. Take the region I cover: Eastern Europe, Turkey, and Central Asia. The initial results of a new UNDP report show that over the past twelve years, the number of people earning 10 to 50 dollars per day has tripled from 33 to 90 million.… Read more

The perils of commodity price volatility

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While a possible option to to compensate for the fall in commodities' prices, cutbacks in public expenditure will hinder progress towards the sustainable development agenda. Photo: Aude Rossignol/UNDP in Burundi

Since 2011, the price of oil has fallen by 51%. Copper, coal and iron ore prices have dropped by 38%, 53% and 67%, respectively. Commodity dependent countries in Sub-Saharan Africa are facing serious fiscal and balance of payment deficits, hindering the progress towards the sustainable development agenda. Our experts consider 5 possible short-term options to compensate for the fall in prices and their drawbacks.… Read more

FGM ban begins a pivotal era for women and girls in The Gambia

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Commemorations for the International Day of Zero Tolerance to Female Genital Mutilation and Cutting are especially significant for The Gambia this year, following the banning and criminalization of FGM/C. UNICEF photo

In November 2015, the practice of Female Genital Mutilation or Cutting (FGM/C) was banned and subsequently criminalized in The Gambia. This marks an important milestone in the country’s journey to end FGM/C and ensure that the fundamental human rights of girls and women are protected and fulfilled. The achievement places The Gambia proudly among 26 other African countries that have banned FGM/C through legislation. And it comes after years of work to raise awareness among individuals and communities, reinforced by intense advocacy with decision and policy makers. As a result, where FGM/C used to be a taboo, the subject is now openly discussed in Gambian homes and communities.… Read more

Zika is a wake-up call for all of us

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A girl receives anti-malaria treatment in Bolivia. Through our partnership with the Global Fund and malaria programmes in nine countries, UNDP can share expertise on multi-dimensional mosquito control responses. Photo: UNDP Bolivia

Yesterday, the World Health Organization declared the spread of the Zika virus a public health emergency of international concern. Unlike other viruses spread through the bite of the Aedes mosquito —such as dengue, yellow fever, or chikungunya — the Zika virus often went unnoticed and was considered a mild tropical disease with most virus carriers being symptomless. Yet Brazil recently found itself in the throes of an unprecedented Zika outbreak — with more than a million people infected — and an unusually high number of babies born with microcephaly. There is growing international consensus, although not yet definitive proof, that the virus has potentially catastrophic implications for infected pregnant women and their unborn children, as well as possible links to other serious neurological conditions. Experts believe that environmental destruction caused the Zika virus to infect humans and is fuelling its dramatic spread through the Americas.… Read more