UNDP and Nesta launch new publication series on collective intelligence for sustainable development

May 13, 2021


London / New York, 13 May 2021 - The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and Nesta’s Center for Collective Intelligence Design today launched the first two reports of its new publication series Collective Intelligence for Sustainable Development: Getting Smarter Together, a comprehensive research over 277 case studies that presents how diverse collective intelligence approaches are being used to speed-up progress on all 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

In a world shaken by the COVID-19 pandemic, a whole-of-society approach is fundamental to getting the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development back on track. From citizens' insights to grassroots solutions, data from mobile phone companies to satellite imagery and Artificial Intelligence (AI), the series shows how new resources of intelligence are being harnessed by organizations around the world to understand complex problems, make better decisions and find new solutions.

The first report Getting Smarter Together analyses and compares the methods and tools used by over 200 global organizations from both the private and public sector sharing examples cutting across all aspects of Agenda 2030. The study discovered 15 methods that are being used most frequently, and often in combination, from crowdsourcing to web scraping and remote sensing. The study also found that Artificial Intelligence is also increasingly being used in parallel, mainly to increase the speed and efficiency of data processing at scale.

The second report 13 Stories from the UNDP Accelerator Labs offers a deeper dive on the details of some of those groundbreaking approaches deployed by the UNDP Accelerator Labs – from using participatory sensing to understand the informal economy around waste in Viet Nam, to combining multiple datasets to tackle gender-based violence in Mexico and understand the impact of COVID-19 on the food supply chains in Zimbabwe.

“This publication series is more than a mere signpost on our path to building the future of development,” said UNDP Administrator Achim Steiner. “It serves as an invitation and a practical guide for local, national, and international development practitioners to make better use of real-time knowledge creation, collective action and evidence-driven decision making. And ultimately, collective intelligence will serve as a vital tool to help shape a greener, more inclusive, and more sustainable planet”

“These new reports provide global lessons from the front line about the power of collective intelligence methods to help us fast track breakthroughs on the path to 2030,” said Kathy Peach, Director of Centre for Collective Intelligence Design, Nesta.

The Sustainable Development Goals demand financial resources, and they equally require the mobilization of intelligence. This publication series is a call to make it standard practice to channel the innovations, knowledge and contributions of people across the globe, to get serious about the move toward real time data, and to find responsible ways of using artificial intelligence to elevate human intelligence. If we want to put this planet on a more sustainable & equitable path, we need to get smarter together.

The reports will be made live Thursday 13 May 08.00am ET on https://bit.ly/CISmarterTogether 

Embargoed copy upon request to:
erika.antoine@undp.org and Kat.McCamley@fourcommunications.com

Collective Intelligence for Sustainable Development Launch Event

On 2 June, a global launch event will mark the release of the publication series “Collective Intelligence for Sustainable Development: Getting Smarter Together”.

The event will feature Gina Lucarelli, UNDP Accelerator Labs Team Leader, Kathy Peach, Director of Centre for Collective Intelligence Design, Nesta, members of the UNDP Accelerator Labs from Argentina, Tanzania and Ukraine and partners on the ground for interactive collective conversations. It will bring together innovators, policy makers, and those working in development to learn how to tap into collective intelligence to accelerate their progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals.

The event will feature reflections from Achim Steiner, UNDP Administrator, about the current state of progress on the global goals followed by the founding investors of the UNDP Accelerator Lab Network from the Federal Republic of Germany and the State of Qatar.

To register for the report launch event, visit: https://undp.zoom.us/meeting/register/tZcpcuGrqDwjHdYd2l61naoyI8x5k0PRseG5 


About Nesta's Centre for Collective Intelligence Design
Nesta’s Centre for Collective Intelligence Design helps organizations and communities to tackle complex social problems in new ways. We do this by working with our partners to identify how they can make better use of diverse perspectives, new sources of data and digital technologies. Our work draws on a wide variety of different methods and disciplines, from crowdsourcing to AI. Our goal is to help groups of people to become smarter together - creating new collectively intelligent systems that are able to address 21st century challenges. To learn more, see https://www.nesta.org.uk/project/centre-collective-intelligence-design/ or email the team at collective.intelligence@nesta.org.uk 

About UNDP Accelerator Labs
The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Accelerator Labs is the world’s largest and fastest learning network on wicked sustainable development challenges. Co-built as a joint-venture with the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development of Germany and the Qatar Fund for Development, the Network covers 115 countries, and taps into local innovations to create actionable insights and reimagine sustainable development for the 21st century. Learn more at acceleratorlabs.undp.org or follow us at @UNDPAccLabs

For more information or media inquiries, please contact:

  • Kat McCamley, Four Communications, +44 7384 525 276, Kat.McCamley@fourcommunications.com
  • Erika Antoine, UNDP Communications, +1 929 406 5348, erika.antoine@undp.org