“Innovation in Action: People First” Public Sector Innovation Forum

Public Sector Innovation Forum aims to acknowledge and reinforce the public sector innovation efforts in Armenia and celebrate the visionary network of public sector innovators

November 25, 2022

Natia Natsvlishvili, UNDP Resident Representative in Armenia

Yerevan, 25 November 2022 – UNDP Armenia's SDG Innovation Lab — the joint initiative of the UN and the Government of Armenia — held a Public Sector Innovation Forum today to acknowledge the efforts and achievements of the visionary network of innovators in the public sector and mainstream novel ways of looking at and solving problems and leading change.  

President of the Republic of Armenia Vahagn Khachaturyan, UNDP Resident Representative in Armenia Natia Natsvlishvili, UN Resident Coordinator a.i. in Armenia Christine Weigand, Minister of Education, Science, Culture and Sports Vahram Dumanyan and Minister of High-Tech Industry Robert Khachatryan addressed the participants of the event: representatives from the Government of Armenia, UN institutions, private sector, academia, CSOs, and public sector innovators.

The world moves fast and changes at an unprecedented rate, but public policy and services remain rigid constraints in a slow-paced system with established practices and ways of working. This is a widespread challenge around the world but one way for going the distance is for public servants to alter their mindset and revise the “business-as-usual" practices by adapting lifelong learning skills, innovative technologies, approaches, and practices.  

UNDP’s SDG Innovation Lab blazed into public sector five years ago with a mission to mainstream public sector innovation. The Forum was also a celebration of the 5th anniversary of the UNDP’s SDG Innovation Lab, which has grown into full-fledged innovation facility that is translating global signals and trends into knowledge and evidence, for the Government to keep up with the rapidly changing world and the current pressing issues.  

“Today, we are marking five years of this partnership with an impressive track record of innovative projects implemented by UNDP with so many government counterparts, international and local partnerships established, but most importantly learnings and knowledge generated from applying innovation in a developing country setting. All of this in Armenia has only been possible thanks to the generous support of Government partners. We also thank the donor organizations who have made the leap of faith in directing funds toward public policy innovation and experimenting with more flexible approaches to accommodate innovation,” said UNDP Resident Representative in Armenia Natia Natsvlishvili in her welcome remarks thanking the Government partners and donor community.

To navigate through turbulent waters of tomorrow and flourish in uncertainty it is important to redefine innovation ecosystem by bridging various sectors, including public and private, and increasing the collective capacity for building new response systems to complex problems.  

“At the beginning of this year, Ministry of Education, Science, Culture and Sports started circulating the Education Development Strategy 2030, at the core of which is the development and realization of human capital through the promotion of knowledge and creativity.  This choice of focus is not accidental: after implementing numerous programs and interventions over the years, the point of the reference of our Ministry is the ability of the individual and his development through lifelong education. On this journey, innovation is the most important prerequisite for meaningful progress and for withstanding the challenges of the future", said RA Minister of Education, Science, Culture and Sports Vahram Dumanyan in his opening remarks.

The Minister of High-Tech Industry Robert Khachatryan mentioned that: “The Digitalization Strategy for 2021-2025 once again reiterated the leading role of the Ministry of High-Tech Industry in digital transformation aiming to promote data-driven, efficient, and transparent government sectors. There is no alternative to innovation and mainstreaming it in all sectors is imperative. It is an arduous journey requiring human-centered, evidence-based and flexible policies, and close collaboration of private and public sectors. And this is where the professionals who share a similar passion for innovative experiences — everyone in this room today — come into play. We need you, the core of the innovators’ network, to lead the process and carry the responsibility for mainstreaming innovation.” 

Dmitry Mariyasin, Deputy Executive Secretary of the UN Economic Commission for Europe delivered a keynote speech highlighting the importance of innovation policy and policy innovation for Governments and how both can be integrated to effectively manage complexities and achieve transformational impact.  

Additionally, he noted how “The SDG Innovation Lab’s model served as an inspiration for the world’s largest and fastest learning network on sustainable development challenges globally — UNDP Accelerator Labs as well as laid foundation for mainstreaming innovation in public administration of Armenia by having the ambitious goal of building a community of open-minded and creative public servants to transform decision-making in the public sector.” 

UNDP’s SDG Innovation Lab Lead Tigran Tshorokhyan reflected on the Lab’s journey and outlined the importance of building and extending the network of innovators to uncover the full potential of innovation for public good.  

The Forum was joined by Marco Daglio Head of OECD Observatory of Public Sector Innovation to stress the importance of institutionalization of innovation and OECD’s readiness to play a key role in the efforts of embedding innovation into public systems in Armenia and shared some insights from other countries on developing sustainable innovation environment.  

To further explore the topic of trends and challenges in the public sector innovation, a panel discussion took place with the participation of Yerevan Deputy Mayor Tigran Avinyan, First Deputy Minister of Health Lena Nanushyan, Deputy Minister of MESCS Zhanna Andreasyan, First Deputy Minister of HTI Gevorg Mantashyan and Tatevik Koloyan, UNDP Armenia Innovation and SDG Finance Portfolio Lead. 

The event was the first in a series of events celebrating and mainstreaming public sector innovation and will prepare the innovation ecosystem for the Public Sector Innovation Festival.