Innovation solutions across Acceleration LABs

15 de Marzo de 2021

© PNUDBolivia / Diego Suarez - Nagera Vicente

Humans have always used their senses as a mechanism to understand, learn and analyze their environments. This is how people are able to obtain relevant information to respond to challenges. All humans develop interaction and adaptation mechanisms to survive and evolve. The challenges experienced within communities force a joint analysis in which everyone contributes their perspectives, and work collectively on finding alternatives to the problems at hand. This participatory search for solutions based on diverse visions is called collective intelligence, and it is applicable to problems of different dimensions. Collective intelligence can be applied to seek solutions for challenges that are generated in a country or in a specific territorial unit, such as a neighborhood, or those shared between countries located on various continents. An illustrative example of the applicability of collective intelligence is Ecuador´s citizen collaboration project in which citizens have the possibility of qualifying different initiatives as a communal prioritization mechanism to indicate what needs require urgent action: "collective intelligence at its best”!

New development challenges, triggered by accentuated planetary pressures, have prompted the world to reflect on a new way to analyze and design solutions applicable to complex and volatile contexts. UNDP, together with Germany and Qatar, launched the Accelerator Labs to map local solutions through new knowledge, methodologies and teams that activate conversations, alliances and projects in each country to progress faster towards the Sustainable Development Goals.

What are UNDP Accelerator Labs?

Due to the speed, connectivity and complexity of development problems that countries are facing. In 2019 UNDP set out to build the world's largest and fastest learning network focused on sustainable development challenges; launching the Accelerator Labs (Acc Labs). Today, they operate in 91 cities in the world giving a platform for experimentation and mapping of solutions to 115 countries.

The Acc Labs work to accelerate progress towards the 2030 Agenda; therefore, their nature is to be identifiers and formulators of potential solutions to catalyze initiatives that already exist or have great potential for scaling up. The Labs are designed to address today's complex and cross-cutting societal challenges by facilitating and connecting diverse approaches from allies capable of contributing to collective intelligence processes.

How do the Acc Labs work  with national partners?

The Acc Labs propose to national and territorial partners a set of methodologies to explore, test and develop solutions for complex sustainable development problems. Actionable approaches include:

Solution mapping: The Acc Lab, in close collaboration with local allies and partners, will identify grassroot solutions in order to achieve a positive impact on  individuals´ lives or their communities, and expand their potential to accelerate their development.

Collective intelligence: The Acc Lab will use collective intelligence to, together with collaborators and allies, generate ideas, develop new solutions, promote more inclusive decision-making and provide better supervision of the development actions that are taken.

Creation of meaning: The Acc Lab will analyze, almost in real time data from various sources, and local context challenges, to identify connections and patterns that allow anticipating new ways of working, and act effectively to accelerate development. Consequently, they will be able to provide multilevel decision-makers with an approach nurtured by various visions.

Design and Testing: The Accelerator Lab will test various hypotheses to address a problem. This systematic process of multiple tests will allow learning to occur in weeks or months rather than years. The design and testing allow to internalize the complexity and areas of opportunity of the subject analyzed, and thus direct more accurate actions towards finding a solution.

Does Bolivia have an Accelerator Lab?

Yes! Bolivia´s Accelerator Lab began operating in late 2020, in the midst of global and local adversity which demanded all humanity to refocus policy and programming priorities as well as efforts to face new and old challenges exacerbated by the pandemic. In this new reality, Bolivia´s Accelerator Lab purpose is to create open, inclusive and participatory spaces where solutions can be mapped, designed, and tested. In this spirit, the Lab´s initial exploring efforts will be centered in the following 3 issues:

Resilient women who reinvent themselves to generate economic resources during and after COVID. UNDP has already begun a sensing phase to understand in depth women´s profiles who have lost their jobs and are actively seeking upskilling or reskilling to generate economic resources. This initiative aims to be driven through strategic alliances that enable data gathering  and analysis, as well as the implementation of technological tools that will assist with the development of an online support community and training tools.

Impact Investment to support economic reactivation (gender, sustainable finance, entrepreneurship, among others). Thematic investment implies an analysis and consensual identification of those sectors that by receiving specialized financing can accelerate  local economic reactivation in marked balance with the Sustainable Development Goals. The United Nations has experience in promoting these vehicles, and in Bolivia it has worked hand-in-hand with private funds to co-create specialized investment tools such as sustainable thematic funds.

Digital Neighborhoods. The Accelerator Lab proposes working with communities and neighborhoods using urban data to design comprehensive solutions. Inspired in the traditional “Pasanaku”, a savings mechanism used among community members based on trust, mutual respect and solidarity, the Lab team aims to identify collaborative solutions that promote development.

Values ​​when working with allies:

  • Co-Creation through sharing of ideas, experiences and cross pollination.
  • Confidence to work on a constructive vision that integrates diverse realities.
  • Idea Amplification based on a work dynamic that seeks diversity of solutions.
  • Commitment to achieve a positive impact on people's lives and their environments.

Why work with the Accelerator Lab?

  • Provides access to resources and specialized expertise profiles with exploratory methodologies.
  • Brings complementary views to the table in the search for development solutions.
  • Accelerates the analysis time for the design of development projects.
  • Provides a global network of expertise, good practices and resources.

How to connect with Bolivia´s Accelerator Lab?

If you have an initiative that identifies solutions in the spectrum of the 3 topics described above and / or is related to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG), and you aspire to scale it or deepen its impact, we invite you to contact us through the  following web page The Lab Team will continually review these proposals, and if the initiative aligns with the UNDP portfolio vision, someone from the team will contact you for an interview.