Prototyping the government of the future in Armenia

24 Jan 2017 by Marina Mkhitaryan, Max Perry-Wilson, Hasmik Soghomonyan

No matter where you live, reforming how the public sector operates is a difficult task. How do we ensure that public services are designed to be as effective and accessible as possible? How do we make government agile and responsive in the face of black swans and wicked challenges? How do we develop a bureaucracy that handles a myriad of tasks as efficiently as possible? In post-Soviet contexts, this challenge is even greater. In the Soviet era, a top-down hierarchy rarely rewarded risk-taking and experimentation, a sentiment that is still too common today. Our own research in Armenia shows that experts fear “rocking the boat” with new ideas without say-so from a higher-up. This results in a channel of creativity that flows only from the top down, leading to services that do not account for citizens’ voices. After all, public sector innovation is not only about listening to citizens’ voices – it is also about optimising working process and getting your big bureaucracy to work effectively and efficiently. … Read more

How much does peace cost?

13 Jan 2017 by Ben Slay, Senior Advisor

PeaceJam’s “One Billion Acts of Peace” campaign encourages youth to respond as individuals to causes of conflict in their communities.
A report recently issued by The Institute for Economics and Peace found that the world spent nearly $14 trillion on war (“defence”, “security”) in 2015 alone. To put that in context, that’s 13 percent of global GDP, and it is 100 times greater than the resources set aside for the official development assistance that finances international development cooperation. It makes one wonder – how much does peace cost? How much should it? And is there a way to bring down the cost without compromising global security? This week’s Kapuściński Development Lecture at Warsaw University, to be delivered by Dawn Engle may have some ideas. The Executive Director of the PeaceJam Foundation—which has been nominated eight times for the Nobel peace prize, and which has worked with 13 different Nobel peace prize winners—helps young people to work for peace by promoting development in their own communities. The truth is that, while global development system is long on good intentions and great ideas, it can often fall short on ways to pull them together and bring them about. … Read more

One solution can "feed" multiple benefits

29 Dec 2016 by Snezana Mircevska Damjanovska, Project Officer, UNDP in fYR Macedonia

preparing foodWomen prepare food for a soup kitchen in a kindergarten in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. Photo: Tomislav Georgiev / UNDP fYR Macedonia
Early every morning in the southern town of Demir Kapija, 15 people on social welfare arrive at the soup kitchen that has been established in a local kindergarten to pick up prepared meals, including warm pies and traditional stews. On Fridays they receive packages to help them get through the weekend. One 70-year-old grandfather comes every day to collect meals for himself and his wife. “At first it was a bit uncomfortable collecting food because it’s a small town and we all know each other,” he says. “But poverty makes you forget about shame. And at least in this way we are not a burden on our children.” The local kindergarten hired two kitchen assistants from amongst local unemployed people to help prepare food for the needy. The soup kitchen has enabled the kindergarten to welcome more pupils, while also helping local people on social welfare by providing them with free hot meals. … Read more

A survival book for data innovation

15 Dec 2016 by Vasko Popovski , Benjamin Kumpf , Milica Begovic and Jennifer Colville

Agricultural success in Egypt. Photo: New World Project / UNDP
New data sources are sprouting everywhere, but there’s hardly a place that systemically uses them to make a difference. With that in mind, a group of enthusiasts from UNDP in Eastern Europe and the Arab States regions embarked twenty months ago on a big data for development exploration journey with support from the Government of Denmark. The idea was to test new sources of data to generate better insights, improve delivery of services, and generate new solutions to persisting development issues. On the data high seas they were joined by colleagues from the UN Global Pulse who used their experience with big data innovation projects. Then UNV mobilized their online data volunteers. … Read more

How are we promoting healthier lifestyles and development in Belarus?

30 Nov 2016 by John Macauley and Seda Karaca

children-exercising-on-playground-belarusGetting enough physical activity is vital in protection against non-communicable diseases.
Every year non-communicable diseases (NCDs) cause 38 million deaths globally, according to the WHO. In addition to being a public health concern, non-communicable diseases also represent a developmental challenge placing high burden on economies and societies. The total burden of NCDs for low and middle-income countries is expected to exceed 7 trillion US$ between 2011 and 2025. Beyond their strain on the economy, NCDs also cause lost productivity and income due to prolonged illness and disability. … Read more

It’s time for a climate revolution. Can the Paris Agreement take us there?

28 Nov 2016 by Daniela Carrington, Climate Change Policy Advisor

A year ago, against all expectations, delegates in Paris agreed on a groundbreaking new deal to take action on global warming. In less than a year, the agreement came into force and was ratified by 113 nations, representing 75 percent of all greenhouse gas emissions. It was unprecedented in the history of international agreements. In Marrakesh, decision-makers moved quickly to begin to implement the deal. Here are a few of the key results. … Read more

In Kyrgyzstan, a new law protects girls against early marriage

25 Nov 2016 by Lucio Valerio Sarandrea, Chief Technical Advisor on Rule of Law

In only the first five months of this year, 49 children committed suicide in Kyrgyzstan. A helpline set up to assist children saw 476 cases. Too many young people in Kyrgyzstan feel hopeless and try to end their lives. In many cases, suicides of girls are prompted by sexual violence and the so-called local practice of “bride kidnapping.” The numbers are staggering: The latest study on a state-representative survey showed that 38 percent of Kyrgyz women married through such a practice. This averages 32 bride kidnapping a day, with 40 percent of them including rape. Nearly 14 percent of women currently aged 25 to 49 in Kyrgyzstan report having married by age 18. … Read more

Can women lead the global fight against corruption?

14 Nov 2016 by Shqipe Neziri Vela and Blerim Vela

kosovo-women-coding-course-anticorruption-gender-equalitySource: Girls Coding Kosova Facebook Page
When it comes to addressing corruption globally, there’s a lack of using gender-sensitive approaches. In recent years, we at UNDP in Kosovo* have carried out assessments on the impact of corruption on women and men. Most of this research proved that corruption is not gender neutral. That is to say, women experience corruption differently than men, which can limit their access to public services. At the same time, our studies have also shown women to be better at identifying corruption practices and more likely to find them unacceptable. But are women actually any less corrupt than men? … Read more

Crowdfunding is not (only) about the money

11 Nov 2016 by Marina Petrović, Milica Begović, Robert Pašičko and Kristina Lauš

If you need just money, go to the bank and don’t use crowdfunding. Use crowdfunding if you need awareness building, campaigning, initiating debate, attract other funders and build up your community. When we started our first campaign for an energy independent school in Croatia, we didn’t have the slightest idea where crowdfunding would take us. From conducting a successful campaign to setting up Crowdfunding Academy and UNDP Alternative Finance Lab, helping to launch more than 15 campaigns in 10+ countries - crowdfunding has definitely taken a hold on us. In the UK alone, crowdfunding for civic causes has gained $30 million over the last five years. But crowdfunding is so much more than about getting the required financing for your project. Let’s take a look at some other benefits of crowdfunding: amassing social capital, enabling broader visibility and scaling-up of a given project, as well as catalysing social action and policy-level impact. … Read more

In search of development solutions? Look south.

09 Nov 2016 by Faik Uyanik, Communications Specialist at UNDP Europe and CIS

A few decades ago, economists believed that activating a few switches would lead to a linear and universal development process. Nowadays, experts know that developing nations takes a huge amount of trial and error. Countries have different histories. Institutions, societies and cultures matter. And the uncertainty that dominates the international economy is making it increasingly difficult to come up with a recipe for becoming a global player. But there’s one thing that matters immensely: exposure and learning. Have you ever paired up with another student, exchanging German for arithmetic to complete your exams? That’s a simple way of describing what South-South cooperation is about. In a multi-polar world, development knowledge and experience have become a new currency. … Read more