Opening remarks by Elaine Conkievich,
Resident Representative, UNDP Mongolia
23 February 2021
Good morning, Ambassador Rosenberg, Ms. Bolor-Erdene, honored guests, ladies and gentlemen
Thank you for joining us this morning as we launch UNDP’s flagship innovation arm Accelerator Lab in Mongolia joining the network of 92 labs in 116 countries.
UNDP’s Accelerator Labs network is the world’s largest and fastest learning network designed to be ‘fast and curious’ with their approaches when addressing complex development challenges.
It means that we all grow and learn together as we experiment, explore and map potential solutions for diverse and dynamic challenges that we face at a planetary scale as well as at a local level. It also means that our learning is fast and agile as we compile and draw our experiences from each other daily.
Today, we only have less than nine years to achieve the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda; yet, the task we must achieve remains monumental and has become even more challenging due to the Covid-19 pandemic not just in Mongolia but also globally. Therefore, we must double down our efforts on all fronts to support the Government of Mongolia and Mongolian people to recover better from this pandemic to leave no behind as we achieve the SDGs
As time is of the essence, the launch of Accelerator Lab in Mongolia could not have been more timely since we aim to disrupt the way we think, invest, deliver and manage to perform faster, better and at a scale through the Accelerator Lab. Unprecedented challenges of the Covid-19 pandemic are requiring Mongolia to respond and react quickly, and in some cases, we might even need to anticipate ahead for the challenges we might be faced with.
The Accelerator Lab will continue the groundbreaking Sensemaking initiative UNDP Mongolia launched in 2020 with our Reference Group and our Sounding Board exploring how UNDP could assist Mongolia’s development more proactively through deliberately looking into different and new solutions with a systems thinking approach.
Our world has never before been this connected yet so isolated. In this uncharted new normal, we need to make sure the tools and technologies we have at our disposal serve for the good and the betterment of many, especially the vulnerable groups in Mongolia.
Hence, the Accelerator Lab identified digital transformation in public services as the frontier challenge in Mongolia aligned with the Government of Mongolia’s prioritization of digital transformation. We will further support the Government of Mongolia in ensuring that this fundamental shift to digital transformation is inclusive and sustainable.
We see a tremendous opportunity for Mongolia in this transition as one third of the Mongolia’s population comprises youth aged 15-34 who are skilled and adept in this digital world. However, we must move forward with caution, acknowledging the potential threat of innovation and digitalization. If not done right, uneven access could further exacerbate the existing inequalities in Mongolia. Cyber security, individual data privacy and human rights on digital platforms are just some of the areas that demand proper policies and regulations in this new normal.
We also need to understand that innovation doesn’t only mean technology but it also includes innovative processes, new collaborations and grassroots solutions, which is what the Accelerator Lab aims to provide Mongolia by unleashing the power of local innovations, collective intelligence and experimentation.
The new future ahead of us is still highly uncertain and emerging. However, the solutions and answers we formulate for Mongolia should be forward looking, different and inclusive. More importantly, it requires our collective partnership at scale to support Mongolia to accelerate its SDGs achievement.
I would like to thank the founding investors of the Accelerator Lab including the Federal Republic of Germany, the State of Qatar, represented by the Qatar Fund for Development, and UNDP’s core partners for making this a reality for us.
Thank you again and I look forward to exchanging ideas and insights today with all of you.