How sustainable are our development goals?


Filed under: Development

Organic vegetable farmer in Boung Phao Village.

We all want a better world.

Before I lose you in the dust of big words and abbreviations, let’s at least agree on that much.

If you’re familiar with development in general or the work of United Nations – even a little bit, you have heard of Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) in the last 15 years.

MDGs basically codified our dream for a better world in eight big goals and asked all countries around the world to commit. Goals like: end extreme hunger; achieve universal education, and so on.

The results? Well, they vary depending on who you ask.

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Social innovation labs: Game-changers in developing countries?


Filed under: Development 2.0 Social innovation


As MindLab’s Deputy Director Kit Lykketoft pointed out in her recent blog, innovation, experimentation and alternative approaches are becoming ‘the new normal’.

And this new normal is no longer exclusive to small groups of people sitting in comfortable conference rooms designing something for people in other places—it is rapidly becoming something for everybody everywhere.

While the social innovation lab trend has been accelerating in developed countries, the question we asked ourselves at UNDP was whether they could work in developing ones.

Could they work to help the emerging economies of developing countries?

What could be the role of labs in such countries?

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Fragments of Impact: Joint UNDP-Cognitive Edge initiative launched

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Filed under: Development 2.0 Social innovation


Sign up today: Email Anna Hanchar or Milica Begovic (Image by Nitya Wakhlu)

Cognitive Edge and UNDP are launching a unique initiative to engage with new ways of working on difficult problems in complex and fast-changing situations.

The programme will last six months and a limited number of participants are being invited from across a variety of NGO and government groups.

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Climate Change: A predictable shock

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Filed under: Climate change Environment

A woman talking at a TedX talk in Armenia

We believe we can luxuriate in the bliss of warm water and still jump out before it’s too late. Can we?

There is a famous anecdote about boiling frogs.

It goes that if you place a frog into a pot of boiling water, it will leap out right away. But, if you put a frog in a kettle filled with cool water, and then gradually turn up the heat – the frog will not become aware of the boiling threat until it is too late.

A sad story for frogkind, undoubtedly – but also a useful metaphor for human beings?

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Future Agro Challenge takes root in Kyrgyzstan

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Filed under: Central Asia Climate change Environment Social innovation

man smelling flower

Stop and smell the roses: Almost 65 percent of the workforce in Kyrgyzstan is employed in agriculture

This month, we’ll be taking a little trip to the future here in Kyrgyzstan.

That’s because our fair city of Bishkek will be playing host to the country’s first Future Agro Challenge (FAC).

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Cycling cities: Almaty takes a spin in Medellín


Filed under: Central Asia Climate change Environment


Almaty’s cycling activists take to the streets in Colombia: Read our interview with the co-founder of Velo-Almaty

Last March, Almaty’s delegation to the 4th World Bicycle Forum returned from Medellín, where 6,000 cycling enthusiasts from five continents came together to share, learn, and understand.

The principle of “open streets” has reached epidemic proportions in more than 300 cities around the world.

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Albania: Where a picture’s worth a thousand words


Filed under: Development Other

a woman smiling in 1927

A treasure trove: Hundreds of thousands of negatives are now being digitized.

One day, I found an unusual email in my inbox.

Sent from a man named Mark in the United States, the message read:

“Can you please help me find pictures of my great-grandfather who used to live in Shkoder until the beginning of the twentieth century?”

Surprised, I wondered how I would possibly find those pictures; but his message made it clear. Mark’s grandfather used to be photographed by the Marubi photo studio in Shkodër, and he had discovered that UNDP was helping digitize its archives.

Perhaps, we could help.

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Open budgets in Ukraine? That’s easy

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Filed under: Anticorruption Development 2.0 Governance Social innovation

a group of young people on acomputer

There’s an app for that: Read how we’re fostering transparency in Ukraine (Photos: Eugene Zelenko)

It’s been almost a year since we asked citizens in three pilot Ukrainian municipalities what they wanted to know about their city budgets.

These results have now turned into tangible tools.

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Whose ladder is it anyway? Introducing Ha-Joon Chang


Filed under: Development Poverty

Ha-Joon Chang portrait

(Photo credit: Wildershoots /

On 27 April, Cambridge University economist Ha-Joon Chang will give a Kapuściński Development Lecture in Bilbao.

If his past work is any guide, Professor Chang will argue that poverty reduction efforts should focus on industrial transformation, and the role of the state.

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New hope for healthcare in Kyrgyzstan


Filed under: Central Asia Health HIV

women promoting good health

“Change the patent law and you will help us live longer” Our civil society partners take to the streets

For over five years, I have been working for access to essential medicines.

I have always been amazed to see how it is the poor countries that often must pay the most when it comes to keep their citizens healthy.

Consider antiretrovirals – these live-saving medications are crucial for keeping HIV a chronic and treatable condition.

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