A rudimentary medical clinic serving an overcrowded shantytown… A sprawling settlement for displaced families… A dusty urban centre pockmarked by years of conflict…
These probably aren’t the places where you would expect to find or the most cutting-edge technology or the most inspiring future thinking. But it is precisely there, and other places like it, that such innovation can have the greatest impact.
The world of global development is in transformation. This changing landscape calls for a major rethink of how development is done. As outlined in our new Strategic Plan, UNDP is focused on delivering creative responses to the new and emerging needs of our Member States, sister UN agencies and other partners.
Here are some ways we’re putting innovation to work for human development.
Drone technology is also proving to be a transformative tool for development. In the Maldives, we work with the government and Chinese drone company DJI on disaster planning and response. By flying drones across the islands, we created three-dimensional risk maps to show authorities which areas are most at risk and which would be safest in case tsunami strikes. Where mapping 11 islands with traditional means would take almost a year, a drone mapped an entire island in just one day.
UNDP is exploring the potential of block chain technology to reduce the cost of remittances. Money sent home by migrants helps sustain families and fuel economies in the developing world, but a significant portion of the funds is lost to fees. Working with private company AID:Tech, UNDP Serbia aims to create block chain-based payment systems to make financial transfers cheaper, faster and more secure.
This is just the beginning for this powerful innovation. Together with digital assets platform Blockchain, the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) and the World Economic Forum (WEF), UNDP recently published The Future is Decentralised, a white paper exploring other uses of block chain technology for development purposes.