Same-same but different: Can Asia’s rapidly growing cities use ‘design thinking’ for better planning and services?

01 Aug 2014 by Taimur Khilji

Dhaka panoramaPANORAMA OF THE BANGLADESHI CAPITAL, DHAKA. PHOTO: AL-EMRUN GARJON
The process of design thinking allows us to critically think through the steps involved in reconstructing something worthwhile that is fit-for-context, and fit-for-purpose. What we hope to accomplish at the end of this process and exercise are workable and feasible prototypes of the one-stop service centre and testing them with potential users until we get it right! … Read more

Four things you’ve always wanted to know about innovation but were too afraid to ask

01 Aug 2014 by Patrick Haverman

e-waste in ChinaEach year thousands of tonnes of electronic waste is disposed of incorrectly globally, and in China. Photo: UNDP China.
Emails went unanswered, or came back with short replies. We began to sense recalcitrance from Baidu's somewhat muted response, and we didn’t like it. Couldn’t they see the value in our innovative emergency shelter mapping initiative? Why weren’t they coming on board? … Read more

Same-same but different: Can Asia’s rapidly growing cities use ‘design thinking’ to replicate each other's successes?

30 Jul 2014 by Taimur Khilji

Panorama of the Bangladeshi capital, Dhaka. Photo: Al-Emrun Garjon
What happens when you bring together members of municipal governments, urban experts, civil society and staff from various countries to brainstorm on addressing urban challenges? Sounds like a typical meeting, but wait...   While city planners interacted and learnt from each other in tackling similar problems, what was far from obvious at the time was how they could transfer a successful practice, product or service from one context (say Beijing, China) to another (say Dhaka, Bangladesh)? And by different context, I mean how language, culture, history and society come together in an appreciably different way to render simple ‘replication’ of a service inapplicable, or, at the very least, a significant challenge. After all, we wouldn’t have to look far, or dig deep, to see the failed attempts of replicating a ‘good practice’ in a context other than its home. Taking our cue from design-thinking Design thinking allows us to unpack, reimagine and reconstruct a practice to see in what shape or form it might work in a different context. In our concrete case, Bangladesh counterparts are keen to adopt China’s successful one-stop-shop social service centres. The problem: urban residents in Bangladesh from low-income backgrounds find it hard to avail the social … Read more

In Bhutan, 'ain’t no mountain high enough'

29 Jul 2014 by Annamari Salonen *

Bhutan parliamentEventually, videoconferencing facilities could be used to enable citizens from across Bhutan and parliamentarians to meet virtually to discuss issues of concern. Photo Courtesy of National Assembly of Bhutan
As an advocate for innovation, UNDP is leading the development of a Virtual Zomdu, (Zomdu: a meeting of residents of villages or communities), together with project partners in Bhutan. … Read more

Saving our Tuna

16 Jul 2014 by Cherie Hart

The UNDP/Discovery Asia documentary, Saving our Tuna, points to a few of the means that are used to keep the catch in check. The aim of the film, which recently aired on Discovery Channel in Asia, is to raise awareness about the complex issues related to sustainability in our oceans. … Read more