Accelerator Labs

UNDP Accelerator Labs in Pakistan

UNDP Innovation-Accelerator Lab Pakistan | Reimagining Development Solutions

We can no longer do business-as-usual

Development challenges today are becoming more complex. Climate change and the COVID-19 pandemic are global problems that impact every individual locally. New technologies accelerate the pace of changes and their ability to transform the world in minutes. Development programming can no longer do business-as-usual to address such challenges.

Crises today are multidisciplinary in nature as it impacts economy, human health, and social well-being all at once. Development must take a new perspective on the design of programming that achieves systemic transformation instead of project change-- with a diverse group of stakeholders from government to private sector, and creative thinkers. New ways of programming must be agile, human-centered, creative and future thinking.

Who are we?

In 2017 UNDP Pakistan made a commitment to invest in innovative solutions for development.  We accelerated our support in 2019 by launching UNDP Innovation-Accelerator Lab Pakistan. The Lab is funded by the State of Qatar and the Federal Republic of Germany, and part of a global network of labs serving in 114 countries.

UNDP Innovation-Accelerator Lab is a dedicated learning space to reimagine development solutions. Our team works with the country office programmes and partners to explore and experiment new approaches, from ethnography to design, to find inclusive and human-centered approaches for meaningful change.


Our service offers

  • Exploration: horizon scanning, identifying emerging development issues of the future 
  • Solution Mapping: identifying innovative solutions using systemic design and strategic foresight
  • Experimentation: developing a portfolio of experiments using portfolio logic
  • Learning & Working-out-loud: communicating learnings, thought leadership and ecosystem support



Solutions Fest; community of problem solving engagement curated to address the issue of plastics waste. ©UNDP/Saiyna Bashir Studios

What do we do?

The Lab uses a combination of multidisciplinary approaches to create more flexible, human-centered, and transformative programme support.


AccLab multidisciplinary approaches & key services



Testing a circular economy model through plastic waste management

The Lab is working with the Environment and Climate Change (ECCU) team, Unilever, and UNDP Regional Innovation Centre to understand how Pakistan can rethink its relationship to plastic waste to move towards a circular economy model. Pakistan has one of the highest percentage of mismanaged plastic in South Asia. The Lab has developed a portfolio of experiments that tests multiple solutions at different points in the system from community behaviour to economic incentives in Rahim Yar Khan. The results from these experiments will provide us field-tested and systemic insights on effective solutions to developing a larger programme and policy on plastic waste and circular economy. For more see our blog.  

Replacing linear project design with Social Innovation Platform

In Gilgit Baltistan (GB), the Lab and the Agirre Lehendakaria Center (ALC) with projects from Development Policy Unit (DPU) and ECCU are collaborating to experiment a replacement for traditional linear projects, by co-designing a Social Innovation Platform to address socio-economic challenges — especially those which have emerged during the COVID-19 pandemic. This approach focuses on using deep listening ethnographic analysis to understand communities perceptions and experiences in real time. In GB, strengthening the food system came out as one of the major findings of the deep listening analysis with community members, for which a gastronomy portfolio is underway for development. For more see our blog.  

Moving towards digital governance through Digital Transformation

As the pandemic hit, UNDP has received several requests to deliver digital support. We have developed a digital transformation portfolio with Crises Prevention, Governance and Development Policy teams at UNDP to test new service offers for our government partners. The Lab is coordinating the portfolio with a learning lens to test new digital service offerings with a special focus on ensuring digital services are human-centered.  UNDP Pakistan Digital Transformation portfolio will build government digital capabilities, advocate for enhanced access to internet and provide critical digital services to continue business. The initiative is designed with technical support of UNDP Global Center for Technology and Innovation. Our government partners include Ministry of IT, Ministry of Planning and Ministry of Health. With UNDP’s Crisis Prevention and Recovery Unit, Democratic Governance Unit, and Development Policy Unit, the Lab is coordinating the development of a new portfolio on Digital Transformation. Read more.  

Intelligence report: Rethinking Pakistan’s Relationship with Plastics

The problem of plastic waste pollution is complex, conditional and collective. It is a product, an industry, a habit and an entire consumption cycle with a systemic nature, touching many industries and sectors. UNDP Innovation-AccLab Pakistan started exploring this issue with the learning question: how can we reimagine our relationship with plastics in Pakistan? Our journey of plastic waste management led us to investigate, map and examine the entire system of plastics, and multiple loops of sub-segments within it. This Intelligence Report highlights our approach in understanding the system, and key insights that came forward. Some of our key findings from understanding the system include: End-user should be involved in the policy-making process as well as in the design of alternative materials; Instead of one-off linear solutions, the solutions need to be interconnected and should have longevity. We found out that single point solutions and reactive policies do not work; systemic solutions are needed as ban policies do not solve root issues. We also learned that even though single-use plastic bags can be banned, but the plastic that is used for packaging still remains, as these goods are imported; Without a policy in effect, they cannot convince other stakeholders to follow complementary practices; while PET bottles and other plastics of higher economic value get scavenged, most of the single-use, non-biodegradable plastic finds its way to open garbage sinks, landfill sites or municipal sewers, choking sewage disposal systems. Using these key insights, we have developed a portfolio of experiments—where we are exploring and testing solutions to rethink supply chains, behavior and future policy all together to effectively minimize plastic waste. Our key learning goal of the portfolio is to create a circular system of plastics management in Pakistan by testing the new economic models, industrial and consumer behavior, policy shift and, engaging the private sector and other non-traditional partners.  Download Report