A new development model to tackle some of the world’s toughest challenges

15 Jul 2015 by Haoliang Xu, UN Assistant Secretary-General and UNDP Regional Director for Asia and the Pacific

Kazakhstan is becoming a donor to other countries. Photo: UNDP in Kazakhstan
As economies boom in developing countries across the world, and many of these countries graduate to Middle Income Country status, the landscape of development is being fundamentally reshaped. We are now witnessing a range of more nuanced and complex development situations, which call for a new approach to meeting some of the world’s toughest development challenges. In this blog series, our experts share their thoughts on key financing for development issues … Read more

Wading through the facts: Lessons from the Georgia flood

01 Jul 2015 by Shombi Sharp, Deputy Resident Representative, UNDP Georgia

Flood recovery operations brought together the government, civil society, international organizations and volunteers. But with the sense of solidarity comes an understanding that disaster management systems must be strengthened. Photo: David Khizanishvili/UNDP
It’s still hard to believe what happened. In just four days, the death toll has reached 19 with a handful still missing, hundreds left homeless, an entire zoo simply washed away. In those first hours, I, like so many others, marvelled at the torrential rain coming down with surprising fury. Driving home through streets already beginning to flood, how could I know the devastation was already underway? … Read more

Let’s #TalkInequality

21 Jan 2015 by Elena Danilova-Cross, Programme Specialist, Poverty and Inequality, UNDP in Europe and Central Asia

A remote village in Kyrgyzstan was hooked up to satellite phone with UNDP's support. (photo: UNDP Kyrgzstan)
Just how bad is global inequality today? Last year, at the launch of UNDP’s Humanity Divided report, Helen Clark noted that the richest eight per cent of the world’s population earns half of the world’s total income: “Not only do 1.2 billion people continue to live on under US $1.25 dollars a day, but inequalities in income and wealth are often compounded by inequalities in access to power, and disparities in health and education.” How did we arrive at this new polarized age and how divided are we in Europe and Central Asia? How might we sustain our development achievements with prosperity for all?  How have globalization and technological growth affected wage and earning inequalities? UNDP’s Dialogue on Inequalities, taking place on 21-22 January in Istanbul, will discuss the threats posed by inequalities – as well as possible ways of addressing them. As issues of inequality move into the spotlight, I’ve taken the liberty of prepping a reading list. What’s the big deal about this Capital book I keep hearing about? The publication of Thomas Piketty’s Capital in the Twenty-First Century made waves in 2014, significantly advancing the discussion of rising inequality around the world. Matt Yglesias offers a “short guide” … Read more

Drop, cover and hold on: Earthquake training in Turkey

11 Dec 2014 by Cherie Hart, Regional Communications Adviser, Regional Centre, Istanbul

Trainee tries to survive the earthquake simulatorPhoto credit: Cherie Hart/UNDP
Turkey has 56 earthquakes a day. Fortunately, most are only felt by extremely fine-tuned seismic sensors.   Scientists predict that Istanbul, which sits on the Anatolian fault line, is due for a major earthquake in the next 30 – 50 years, which could kill or injure tens of thousands of people. Our security office takes this information very seriously, and I recently took a staff training course to learn some practical Do’s and Don’ts during an earthquake: Do not: run out of a building while the shaking is going on Do: Drop low, Cover your head and neck and Hold on to something stable Do not: jump out of a window or off a balcony Do not: stand in a doorway. Doors don’t protect you from falling debris as well as a table or desk I’m sad to report I failed the test. I didn’t drop low enough to my knees or adequately cover my head and neck. However, I did remember to hold on tight to the desk. That part was easy. While the training was both fun and informative, I was also reminded of the importance of being prepared for the unexpected – and how hands-on disaster preparedness trainings … Read more

Moldova’s innovation hub: Changing the way we police

28 Oct 2014 by Alex Oprunenco, Cristina Lisii and Alexandru Cocirta

People and police working with a board during the workshop. Police officers and community members discuss the design of the new space. Photo: UNDP in Moldova.
In June this year we launched our Innovation Facility  with generous support from the Government of Denmark. The initiatives we fund involve end users as designers of solutions which are put directly to the test in various countries across the world. For example, in Chișinău, Moldova’s capital, the renovation of a dilapidated Soviet-era police station was done differently - involving the community throughout the process. Our office in Moldova, partnering with the municipal police, FutureGov  and Studio TILT, quickly realized that changing the dynamics of a space involved more than just constructing a room and moving around some furniture. They considered questions such as: Can we create a space that makes the police more efficient, accessible, and trustworthy? What about the community? Can we make them feel happier, helpful, and more secure? Here’s how they did it Day 1:  Understanding the needs The first day was critical to change the police officers’ perception. We spent it learning about their daily issues, observing the constraints of the physical environment, and looking for possibilities for improvement. Day 2: Bringing in the community members We went to local markets and the police station to get the citizens’ point of view:  their perceptions of the police and … Read more

Loud and clear: Rethinking service design in Georgia

24 Oct 2014 by Sophie Tchitchinadze, Communications Analyst, UNDP Georgia

woman at a workshop in GeorgiaPeople living with speech or hearing impairments now have more options to contact the emergency hotline. Photo: David Khizanishvili, UNDP Georgia.
On the heels of SHIFT, UNDP's Week of Innovation Action, we tried to answer some basic questions: Why do we need it all? Why should we do innovation work in development? We got our answers after a design thinking session with the national emergency hotline in Georgia.  112 is one of the most dialled phone numbers in Georgia. In 2013 alone, they received over 8 million calls. Their website lists emergency services available for children, with a video tour, and frequently asked questions for those who may need immediate help. They provide everything for everyone – except for those who cannot hear or speak.  This is because 112 is only reachable through a voice call. Those living with speech or hearing impairments simply don’t have options. To change this, 112 teamed up with our office in Georgia and the Swedish Government  to prepare a new service design – one that would be truly universal. Earlier this year, the 112 team travelled to Ireland to examine how new technology can make emergency services more accessible for the hearing and speech impaired. This was followed by a three-day design thinking workshop that brought together people with disabilities, tech specialists and civil society organizations. … Read more

Volunteering the future: A call to arms

16 Oct 2014 by Elena Panova and Rosemary Kalapurakal

Photo: Zaven Khachikyan/UNDP in Armenia
How does volunteering make a difference? These days, we are trying to do development differently: to partner with less usual suspects for outside insights, and tap into local energy and initiatives. The ethos of volunteerism is exactly the same – it is not a supplement to the work we do; it is a natural component within it. And with whom do we partner up to do this? The answer, of course, is young people. They are the natural choice. To be truly inclusive though, we have to work harder to reach women, minorities, and other vulnerable groups. Volunteerism can be an essential part of that reach. Today, we have the largest cohort of youth in human history. Fifty percent of the population is below the age of 30. We cannot shape an effective response to youth matters if we do not include the voices of young people themselves.  We see ample evidence of this already happening in our region. In Belarus, young people volunteer to give free city tours to blind children; others provide orphans with clothes for harsh winters. They don’t see themselves as volunteers per se, but as citizens passionate to create infrastructures for resilience in their communities. So … Read more

Development of, by, and for the people

01 Aug 2014 by Nadine Abou El-Gheit, Programme Assistant, Energy and Environment

Youth in MontenegroThe UN joint programme on Youth Empowerment in Montenegro is trying to apply user-led design so that young people come up with solutions to problems they are facing. Photo: Christian Schwier/UN in Montenegro
Recently, I got a pretty awesome offer: Visit our country offices in Montenegro and Kosovo and see how they’d been doing development differently. Four weeks later I was in Pristina, then in Podgorica, and here is what I took away from my colleagues: 1. Keep momentum even in the face of disappointments and failures. New ideas require adjustments and refining. You probably heard how failure is just another stepping stone to success and how Walt Disney, Sidney Poitier, Albert Einstein all failed miserably at the start of their careers. Yet at the first sign of failure, most of us run and erase all tracks. Never be afraid to fail. 2. Don’t innovate for the sake of innovation. We have an edge over private sector companies that need to invest large sums in innovation: We have access. Access to a pool of technical expertise, good relationships with the governments hosting us, and the ability to convene people from all over the world, by virtue of our neutrality and impartiality. Innovation should only serve to complement this edge. 3. Dare to push the limits and do things differently: Innovation is not just about creating a Facebook page for our projects. In a recent campaign for social inclusion in Montenegro, the … Read more