Integration and Innovation Cell

Placing innovation and systems thinking at the heart of UNDP work

The scale and magnitude of development challenges the planet faces today outrun our capability to adapt and respond effectively. We see that old development templates and linear approaches to dealing with complex challenges increasingly fail. There is less than a decade left to achieve the Agenda 2030 and reach the Sustainable Development Goals. To do that, we need to renew our development models and embrace system-thinking as a default mindset.

This ambition resonates with the Country Programme Document for Bosnia and Herzegovina 2021-2025, which envisages the changing role of UNDP, from a sound performer to a thought leader, and an organisation that can deliver change at scale. The new UNDP Strategic Plan 2022-2025 sets strategic innovation as one of the main enablers of transformative change.

That is why UNDP in Bosnia and Herzegovina focuses deliberately on enhancing its capabilities and mindset to successfully adapt to rapidly changing environment, learn from genuine experiences and translate that knowledge into systemic changes. In March 2021, we created the Integration and Innovation Cell - an organisational vehicle to stimulate programmatic synergies and cross-sectoral collaboration, place innovation and system thinking at the heart of UNDP work.

The Integration & Innovation Cell intends to support the following shifts within UNDP in Bosnia and Herzegovina:

  1. Moving from sector-based thinking and “doing business” to a network of portfolios that represents UNDP development offer and expertise, enable integrated, relevant and systemic approach in programme design and delivery, contributing to development results at scale.
  2. Moving from the habit of "new project design by a consultant or a small team" to a collaborative strategic conceptualization of new interventions (integrated, system- thinking and as part of a wider portfolio) from the outset, guided by UNDP strategic intent and leadership directions. Hence, escaping from the trap of single-point solutions which underminechange at scale.
  3. Moving from a stand-alone innovation acceleration unit or lab to an embedded innovation function within the UNDP team.

The Integration & Innovation Cell merges the UNDP Accelerator Lab and the Monitoring, Evaluation & Learning functions into one unit. 


What we do?

Systems Thinking and Portfolios

The Integration & Innovation Cell supports the development and setting in motion of new portfolios, alongside a new culture and mindset as part of the portfolio approach.

Collaborative and Integrated Programme Design

The Cell curates cross-team collaboration and an integrated approach in the process of designing all new interventions, leveraging innovation and system-thinking for sustainable development impact and connecting the dots across thematic pillars. The Cell supports the conceptualisation of new interventions/portfolios that can help UNDP's strategic positioning in new areas of work.

Innovation and Experimentation

The Cell undertakes research that can inspire new development approaches for UNDP, as well as does rapid scans for data and solutions based on needs. The team nurtures the implementation of a portfolio of innovation experiments - including though leveraging digital solutions, which presents potential for transformative development and may serve as a testbed for scalable initiatives, becoming the nucleus for new interventions. The main thematic focuses of the 2022 portfolio of experiments are circularity, waste management and decarbonization.

Innovation and NextGen UNDP Capabilities

The Cell scans the specific learning needs of the UNDP team, offers customized learning opportunities and informal thematic conversations in the areas of innovation and new development approaches, which directly contributes to enhanced skillset and new mindset within the team. The main areas of in-house learning are 

  1. enhancing digital skills; 
  2. leveraging new technologies for development;
  3. social innovation approach; and 
  4. system-thinking and portfolios.
Data and Analytics

The Cell enhances the data and analytical functions of the UNDP team, towards tapping into data as a powerful development lever, as well as consolidating and maximizing the use of available data within the Country Office. The Cell supports projects/teams to more actively reflect and extract learning and insights from on-going work, which can inform more impactful results in the future. The Cell sets in function a new data and knowledge hub, as an easily accessible and organized space for the entire team.