New York - UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) have committed to accelerating their joint efforts towards achieving the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals – an international call to action to end poverty, live sustainably, protect the planet and ultimately ensure that no one is left behind by 2030.

Through a Memorandum of Understanding, signed today (18th February), UKRI and UNDP have pledged to ensure closer collaboration between researchers and policymakers across the world, by combining their collective expertise in driving international development, research and innovation.

The agreement, which is centred on the UN’s call for a decade of action in support of its Sustainable Development Goals, will transform the development landscape and enable community groups, local policymakers, researchers, social and commercial enterprises to work in agile, innovative and transformative ways to make lasting change for the world’s poorest people.

Through their new partnership, UKRI and UNDP will work with a broad range of organisations to cultivate a better understanding of what the future development research could and should look like. In the first instance, this new partnership means that some of UKRI’s Global Challenge Research Fund (GCRF) projects will serve as  knowledge partners for the UNDP’s Accelerator Labs Network. Combining the ambitious, challenge-led research being generated across UKRI’s GCRF 12 interdisciplinary Hubs, in 85 countries and with over 400 partners, with the vast network of 60 Accelerator Labs across 78 countries will provide a dynamic, multisectoral environment to generate creative new ways to achieve the SDGs within local contexts.

 “UNDP is placing increased emphasis on supporting innovation which helps communities to tackle the acute challenges that they face on a daily basis,” said UNDP Administrator, Achim Steiner. “This closer partnership between UKRI and UNDP, focused on research and innovation, will help to generate even more solutions with the communities we work with -- and drive forward progress on the Sustainable Development Goals.”

Professor Andrew Thompson, UKRI’s International Champion and Executive Chair of the Arts and Humanities Research Council, said: “In order to achieve a healthier, safer and fairer future for all, we need to work in imaginative new ways to transform how research for international development is done. We need to start by changing the centre of gravity to ensure that research solutions are being generated from within the countries where the problems are most acutely felt. Joining forces with UNDP provides an exciting opportunity to ensure policy makers and researchers with intricate on-the-ground knowledge of local challenges work together to find and implement sustainable, lasting solutions, which are owned and embraced by local communities across the world.” 

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