May 12, 2022
The UNDP Accelerator Labs offer a unique opportunity to advance the way that we think about opportunities for citizen engagement in the region— to rethink both who is being listened to and how they are being listened to.
Many traditional approaches to citizen engagement often struggle to go beyond one-off top-down consultative approaches that “extract” data from citizens. However, in their role as agile actors working with local communities to pick up signals from the ground, the Labs have been able to experiment with innovative approaches for eliciting “voice” from citizens in ways that also seek to build trust and empower local constituencies.
Across various contexts, the Labs have been working to build constructive and respectful spaces to listen to citizens’ voices and to document citizens’ perspectives for the purposes of policy dialogue and to identify solutions to development challenges. In particular, the Labs’ focus on “collective intelligence” provides a new lens through which we can view more traditional mechanisms, and in a way offers a reboot of citizen engagement for the 21st century. Simply defined, collective intelligence refers to “the enhanced capacity that is created when people work together, often with the help of technology, to mobilize a wider range of information, ideas and insights.” For example, collective intelligence methods such as citizen-generated data and crowdsourcing can be powerful tools for turbo-charging more traditional citizen engagement mechanisms by catalyzing their ability to enable practices such as distributed problem solving, engagement with complex systems, or real-time monitoring.