Innovation Blogs

  • Impact investment to close the SDG funding gap
    Jul 13, 2017

    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.

  • Four trends in development innovation
    Jul 12, 2017

    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.

  • Better understanding of human behaviour can help achieve the global development agenda
    May 9, 2017

    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.

  • Ready, set, innovate!
    Nov 28, 2016

    In Africa, as in the rest of the world, things are moving! We live in a world that is becoming more and more complex, whether it be in social, economic or political terms. With the introduction of the new Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), we now have to adapt and adjust our practices in order to achieve such goals both efficiently and effectively. It's not uncommon to hear partners or even staff members complain, rightfully or wrongfully, about the red tape involved when it comes to UNDP procedures. Time-consuming processes or administrative tasks have been put into place and seem sometimes to take precedence over the quality of our interventions. Innovation can help correct such dysfunctions and thus allow us to be more productive. So, how can we best define the term ‘innovate’? There are a lot of possibilities, but the one to bear in mind is the fact that innovation enables us to give full rein to the innate creativity that lies within us. It allows us to come up with original and powerful responses to meet specific societal needs – and such responses can be technological or organizational in structure, or even a leading factor in bringing about social or behavioural changes.

  • 10 Steps to Successful Crowdfunding
    Nov 16, 2016

    The spirit of gotong royong is taught to children from a very young age at schools all over Indonesia. It is the Indonesian brand of volunteerism, or communal work—where members of a community gather to accomplish a task. Traditionally, the task could be to fix a neighbor’s home, or build a road or a bridge.

  • Crowdfunding is not (only) about the money
    Nov 11, 2016

    If you need just money, go to the bank and don’t use crowdfunding. Use crowdfunding if you need awareness building, campaigning, initiating debate, attract other funders and build up your community. When we started our first campaign for an energy independent school in Croatia, we didn’t have the slightest idea where crowdfunding would take us. From conducting a successful campaign to setting up Crowdfunding Academy and UNDP Alternative Finance Lab, helping to launch more than 15 campaigns in 10+ countries - crowdfunding has definitely taken a hold on us. In the UK alone, crowdfunding for civic causes has gained $30 million over the last five years. But crowdfunding is so much more than about getting the required financing for your project. Let’s take a look at some other benefits of crowdfunding: amassing social capital, enabling broader visibility and scaling-up of a given project, as well as catalysing social action and policy-level impact.

  • Drivers of public services and policies of tomorrow – the role of government innovation labs
    Oct 12, 2016

    What comes to mind when you hear the term ‘innovation’? The public sector? – Thought not. But we are working on changing this. Over the last three years, UNDP has set up innovation labs in five countries to support governments in designing the next generation of public services and to embark on experimental policy-design and another one is being set up right now. From Brazil, Colombia and Canada to South Africa, Israel, Malaysia and Singapore – the world map of labs is constantly growing. Government innovation labs, sometimes referred to as change labs, social labs or design labs, have been opening up in more and more places since the early 2000s. What are Public Sector innovation labs and how do they work? Government or public sector innovation labs are teams that combine expertise in innovation methods and public sector reform to improve policy design and the way governments deliver services to the public. Another important role of the labs is to help governments reframe challenges and to broaden the perspective of policy makers by bringing in the perspective of users. Labs help governments in creating better solutions based on citizen feedback and inputs. But ideally they are more than quick-solution delivery machines.

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