Development impact



New ways of doing development, driven by citizens, are emerging. From social impact investors to new government units focusing on behavioral change, new and old players alike are pioneering methods that turn traditional approaches on their head.

At UNDP, our goal is to capture these methods and harness the potential of the data revolution, new technologies, innovative finance, urban transformation and other innovative practices to help our partners roll out solutions to key issues such as air pollution, gender equality, sustainable cities and so much more.

What’s more, we consider innovation a process of continued learning. In our rapidly changing world, learning helps us improve development outcomes and accelerate progress on the Sustainable Development Goals. For this we are embracing radically different ways of working, using a unique approach to systems transformation. Read more about UNDP’s innovative efforts across the region at:

In order to achieve our objective, we work with country offices and partners to:

  • Implement strategic innovation design: We introduce and implement innovative methods for strategic processes and structures design, stakeholder engagement and sensemaking. This includes both virtual and analogue modes of design, incubation, and acceleration.
  • Advance digital development: In collaboration with UNDP’s Chief Digital Office, we advance through exploring new technologies (blockchain, AI, VR, AR, XR, spatial computing) to create new products and services for more effective development solutions.
  • Explore data innovation and governance: We consult and support the creation of data initiatives through data readiness assessments, clarification of objectives, determining target groups and ensuring responsible data practices. We also explore new data governance approaches to empower individuals (and communities) by using fair and inclusive data governance frameworks and practices.

Our longstanding and novel partnerships with the European Commission, the Slovak Ministry of Finance, the Islamic Development Bank and Koc Holding have contributed to growing the following initiatives over the last years:

  • Mayors for Economic Growth is a new initiative of the EU that in partnership with UNDP supports local authorities in Eastern Partnership countries to use innovative methods towards just and green development.
  • AltFin Lab pioneers new ways to finance sustainable development and supports country offices and partners in exploring new approaches to financing the SDGs – from online crowdfunding academies to dairy impact bonds (Armenia).
  • BOOST is a UNDP acceleration program on a mission to boost and scale innovative solutions across the region in response to persisting development challenges.
  • City Experiment Fund works with partner cities across the region to make sense of and address complex issues playing out in cities – including the impact of migration, climate change, and inequality – by working at the intersection of innovative methods and technologies.
  • Tadamon is a platform that supports CSOs in 57 OIC (Organization of Islamic Cooperation) Member Countries by providing visibility, funding, capacity building and know-how.

Innovation Days is a flagship regional event that quickly grew into a global initiative. Every year, we engage with the “edges”: individuals, communities, organizations and policy makers from different sectors who are building new futures, designing new paradigms and challenging the status quo. The focus is on learning from practice and exploring avenues for system transformation to achieve the SDGs. Read more about the 2021 edition.

Regional Impact

Across the region, UNDP is pioneering innovative approaches to development:

  • 11 Accelerator Labs in the region, part of a growing global learning network on sustainable development challenges.
  • The Smart City Initiative in Bosnia and Herzegovina catalysed community interest and collaboration to tap into innovative ideas for a smarter and more liveable city – to advance public service delivery, and encourage a smart urban economy, wellbeing and quality of life.
  • The Global Biomimicry Challenge is an international contest for innovative biomimicry-based, nature-inspired solutions that address critical global issues and achieve the SDGs in Ukraine.
  • Assessment of air quality (as impacted by COVID-19) in Moldova and Ukraine, together with the European Space Agency, using Geospatial EO data and other new types of data.
  • Supporting urban development in Moldova, UNDP and the European Space Agency collaborated on analyzing Chișinău’s urban expansion patterns, mobility behaviour, access to public transport as well as infrastructure gaps so that local authorities can better tackle existing urban problems.
  • Tackling depopulation in Serbia by finding new approaches at the intersection of demography, ageing, migration, and economics.
  • Applying social network analyses to increase small and medium enterprise competitiveness and identifying policy solutions from the margins of society in Montenegro and Armenia.
  • Using gaming for reconciliation, youth unemployment, tourism and pollution control in Cyprus and Kyrgyzstan.
  • Looking into big and open data for transparency, disaster risk reduction, the informal economy in Kosovo* and North Macedonia.