Filed under: Development Guest posts Social innovation

young boy standing up and speaking

Are citizens the answer to the World We Want?

The Edgeryders community expects interesting additions!

We will soon have innovators from Armenia, Egypt and Georgia joining us, and together we’ll find and highlight citizen solutions to challenges in their countries. This is a paid gig, awarded by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) to our Edgeryders company.

We know this is good for the client. How is it good for the community as a whole as well as for individual members, both old and new? The larger and more diverse the community grows, the more likely we are to come up with projects like the unMonastery or the Economy app.

The kinds of ground-breaking initiatives whose impact can go beyond any local context or regional agenda and serve as inspiration for more and larger scale creative collaborations. Simply stated, it offers us more opportunities to come together, inspire one another and help each other. P2p.

This is one of many signs that Edgeryders is developing into an independent, grassroots-driven and self-sustaining voice for people at the edge everywhere…and we are very happy about it.

The story behind the news is this: In the context of a post-2015 development agenda, also known as what comes after the Millennium Development Goals, UNDP held a global online consultation last year, called The World We Want. They asked citizens “What would make your future better?” and engaged almost two million worldwide.

>> Also see: What if post-2015 were already here?

In the follow-up, UNDP in Europe and Central Asia are embarking on a project involving the consulted as solution finders at local level (irrespective of credentials) and believing strongly that “the future is already here – it’s just not very evenly distributed” (W. Gibson). Seems right up our alley, doesn’t it?

Edgeryders is proposing a foresight exercise called “Spot the Future”: we will be opening our web home to the fresh voices of social innovators in the three countries, and engaging them in a global conversation to figure out together what works and what doesn’t when hacking systemic challenges. We’ll present the findings as valuable inspiration for the UN’s development programmes across Europe, and not least, for people who are building the future everywhere.

All throughout this exercise, we advocate to use our proven methodology, based on three main activities:

  • Traverse the social graph to identify cutting-edge trends as they happen. We reach out to these trend makers, and do not ask them what they think is needed for progress. We ask them what they are already doing!
  • Peer validation through curated conversation. By embedding the Spot the Future innovators into the Edgeryders web community we provoke all kinds of meaningful exchanges: anything written by one user can be corroborated or challenged by all others.
  • Uncover insights through online ethnography and network analysis. With our tools, we detect and harvest the (hidden) knowledge in these online conversations. For example: What are the trends in citizen-driven innovation in Armenia, Egypt and Georgia? What are the biggest obstacles for the innovators there? What would help them grow the impact of their work?

What do we aim to achieve?

  • A fledgling network that connects people doing innovative work at the edges across Armenia, Egypt and Georgia
  • Discovery of unknown societal challenges and exchange of new perspectives, knowledge and solutions, across countries
  • Emergent, bottom up collaboration between the Spot the Future protagonists and Edgeryders wider community (Georgian unMonasteries, anyone?!)

How can the community members get involved?

From end of March, Matthias will have a new dedicated space on the website ready where social innovators from the three countries share their stories.

The conversation will be global, open and more importantly, compelling for Edgeryders everywhere, so we all stand to benefit. What’s more, doors are wide open for us to interact and exchange advice with new Armenian, Georgian and Egyptian community members.

We’ll soon be launching specific calls to point at detailed ways anyone can be a part of this. But if you know of interesting people pushing for change in any of the three countries, and who could use the immersion in a global community and lots of peer support, invite them in! Simply share this post and encourage them to come meet and greet everyone through a comment here.

Finally, it’s worth saying that we’re excited about this opportunity to work with the UNDP regional office in Bratislava (our formal contractor) and the country offices in Georgia, Armenia, Egypt. By doing so, we hope to inspire a new way of how institutions collaborate with citizens doing cutting-edge work outside the mainstream, and set the tone so that they are given increasing support, credibility and legitimacy.

Also at Edgeryders we’re big on collaboration so if you want to engage other organizations you know of to partner with the initiative and welcome more Edgeryders in more countries to the community do write to



*This post was co-written by Matthias and Nadia from Edgeryders and originally appeared on the Edgeryders blog.