Our Perspective

A new year, a new approach: It’s time for innovation!

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UNDP’s New Year’s resolution for 2017 is to push for innovation in Pakistan - not only as a way of tackling development challenges, but also as a way of thinking and working at the office.

A new landscape has been emerging in Pakistan as social innovators, entrepreneurs and businesses seek innovative solutions to addressing problems that affect community groups. Led largely by young Pakistanis, there has been a rapid rise in start-ups, innovation labs, hackathons and the use of web-based and mobile phone applications for information, services and finance. Entrepreneurial activity has increased as well as incubators and co-working spaces are set in place. Many social enterprises are addressing critical challenges in health, education and poverty. The Government has also revealed an appetite for innovation as Vision 2025 introduces e-solutions to education, health and citizen engagement.

UNDP kick-started its innovations portfolio to remain responsive and relevant to people’s needs in the development context. UNDP’s Asia-Pacific innovation experts arrived in Pakistan last month to showcase and explain tools and ideas being used successfully elsewhere. For UNDP, innovation is not an end in itself; it is about finding better ways to create impact for people by providing new opportunities to start-up businesses, improving service delivery and engaging citizens. Our innovation work is rooted in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and cuts across UNDP’s various programmes—environment and climate change, governance and the rule of law, crisis prevention and recovery, and development policy.

We are expanding partnerships outside the traditional development circles. From local social innovators and business entrepreneurs to students with creative ideas, UNDP is open to working with any individual or organization with a passion to change the world! Our teams have already met local innovators from the Accountability Lab, Switch ITC, Invest2Innovate, Social Innovation Lab, Pakistan Innovation Fund, School of Skills and the science and technology wing of the Planning Commission.

Less than a month since kick-starting this new approach, our teams are already working with some local innovators and brainstorming ideas to improve programme needs and initiate new activities. The ideas entail adopting and using alternative data sources, conducting hackathons around electoral participation, sourcing creative ideas to localize the SDGs and creating incubators for young people in remote parts of Pakistan.

We will be working-out-loud. This means celebrating our successes and learning from our failures. Innovating implies taking risks - accepting failure is part of the game. Experimenting and perfecting concepts until they are ready or discarded is part of the learning process. We will do so with an open mind and are seeking people’s involvement to be intensely inclusive and engaged with those that inspire us to work with all Pakistanis wanting to make a contribution to improve lives in their communities!

IgnacioArIgnacio Artaza, Country Director, UNDP Pakistan committing himself to innovating to make a difference in people's lives

Stay tuned for more. UNDP is always listening. Get in touch with us if you have a big idea – the sky is the limit!


Innovations for Development: beenisch.tahir@undp.org

Ignacio Artaza Sustainable Development Goals Innovation Pakistan Blog post

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