Intro to social innovation: Summer school in Poland


Filed under: Development Social inclusion Social innovation

Paper prototyping at social innovation summer school in Poland

Paper prototyping at social innovation summer school in Poland

This week we’re in picturesque Nasutów near Lublin, with a group of people dedicated to social change. Together, we’re exploring innovative ideas to help us do our work.

“I want to learn how to make people sensitive to social issues,” said Michał Szal, who is attending this week’s social innovation summer school.

UNDP organized the summer school session for employees of social economy support centres that show organizations and groups with a social mission how to survive in a free-market.

We’re tapping into the global conversation going on about the power of innovative thinking and technology to solve our greatest challenges. (See: the Social Good Summit 2012) We’ve also taken to heart some of the recommendations for social innovation from Christian Seelos and Johanna Mair in their recent post: Innovation Is Not the Holy Grail. (Also see: Innovation for development: demystifying the buzzword)

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Can the arts be used to overcome prejudice?


Filed under: Guest posts Human rights and rule of law Peace and security Social inclusion

Girl in front of youth festival poster

Youth theatre in Serbia tackles taboo issues, including discrimination

Young actors chose some taboo topics, and tried to provoke an audience of their peers.  The idea was to get them talking – during the performance – about the issues they raised.

Strahinja Đelić, a 17-year-old student from Leskovac, spoke about how they chose the topics.

“We chose them ourselves based on the problems we know exist in our society. These are various forms of physical violence, violence in the family, discrimination based on gender preference. The scenes are partially taken from true stories which most of our peers can relate to.”

Members of the audience were encouraged to suggest how to counter negative stereotypes acted out in the play, or even take to the stage themselves to show how they would behave in a similar situation.

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Living at peace with nature


Filed under: Central Asia Environment

Kids on the Ustyurt plateau

Kids on the Ustyurt plateau

Summer is hot on the Ustyurt plateau - girl stands in the desert with a sign that says 50 degrees

Summer is hot on the Ustyurt plateau

Have you ever been to Karakalpakstan? to the Ustyurt plateau?

For most, the Ustyurt plateau is a remote steppe with a scarce amount of water and hard living conditions. Not many are aware that this area has an interesting history and unique wildlife, and that it was once home to great civilizations – the remnants of these disappeared civilizations can still be seen all over the Plateau today.

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Smart, sustainable and inclusive Europe: Can we make it without women?


Filed under: Gender equality Social inclusion

I went on a study visit to Slovenia recently and was able to get some insight into how they’re working towards gender equality.

During the visit, we discussed how at the European Union (EU) level, women make up 35 percent of the European Parliament. Even if all these women take a clear stand on a particular issue, and even if all of them have the courage and support to stand behind their idea when it is not in line with the general opinion of their party, this still does not guarantee that their voice will be heard enough to influence decision-making in a positive way.

And that’s just in the Parliament, which has the authority to suggest policies, while the adoption and implementation of those policies are left to national governments and other EU bodies. At these levels, less than 35 percent of decision makers are women.

Why is it important to have women on board?

Number of women on boards - graph

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Social media and civic activism in Armenia


Filed under: Development 2.0

These are just a few examples of Armenian activism that are happening via social media.

A recent UNDP survey on social cohesion revealed that although people in Armenia realize the need to actively engage in social and political life in their communities, they admit that they aren’t very active themselves.

Despite these findings, there is a recent informal move to civic engagement, pointing to:

  • Strengthened civic consciousness and understanding of one’s role in the future of the country
  • Dissatisfaction with current policies
  • A sense of belonging within country and culture

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Would you donate blood?


Filed under: Central Asia Health HIV

Lyudmila, a blood donor in Tashkent

Lyudmila, a blood donor in Tashkent

We almost never think about blood, and rarely think about donating it. I realized the importance of donating blood only recently, after our project rolled out a donor blood safety component.

Many times blood is needed for victims of catastrophes, car accidents, or during childbirth, and sometimes the availability of blood within seconds determines whether a person’s life is saved or not.

What is even more impressive, one in three people will need to use donated blood at least once in their lives (World Health Organization). A blood donation can mean the difference between life and death.

However, there is a downside: transfusion-transmitted infections, including HIV. It is estimated that three percent of HIV infections worldwide are transmitted by transfusion of contaminated blood and blood products.

So is it possible to make donor blood safe and free from infection?

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New stars, songs and the future: Happy International Youth Day


Filed under: Central Asia Development Social inclusion

For a month our office was taken over by young people, their parents, zillions of questions and phone calls, and expressions of gratitude.

Together with United Nations Volunteers, and the United Nations Population Fund, UNDP initiated a Millennium Development Goals song contest.

Who better to advocate for the Millennium Development Goals than young people, expressing opinions, in their own words, about socio economic challenges such as poverty, hunger, education, gender equality, the environment, and HIV and AIDS.

And what better way to reach out to young people than through the power of music?

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Let civil society do it: How to provide non-state social services


Filed under: Governance Poverty

Almost a year ago, I announced that we were working on a handbook on how social contracting could help improve the quality, access and availability of social services for citizens. Many wrote back saying they would be interested in being kept in the loop on our work.

I am now happy to report that the Handbook on Non-State Social Service Delivery Models is now online. It includes practical recommendations for policy makers on how to ensure efficient social service delivery through civil society organizations (CSOs) with public-funding support.

At first glance, this idea might sound contradictory: on one hand, governments are encouraged to contract out social services to non-state providers, and on the other hand the Handbook says that the ultimate responsibility to ensure funding and delivery of social services remains with the government.

So why would governments engage in social contracting? Read more »

Update: Citizens rate their rights in Serbia


Filed under: Development 2.0 Human rights and rule of law

Photos of faces, making up the words human rightsWe now have over 2,000 comments on Rate Your Rights, a new portal created to crowdsource citizen perspectives on Serbia’s achievements under the Universal Periodic Review.

Citizens were asked 18 questions, corresponding to the 18 recommendations related to human rights, which Serbia accepted and agreed to follow up on during the previous round of the Universal Periodic Review in 2008.

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Would you like to live in a smart city?


Filed under: Development Governance

At the end of July I participated in a conference on how to develop smart cities, organized jointly with our municipal partners from Vinnytsya. The question of the day was: How can electronic technologies ensure local democracy, and sustainable urban development? (in Ukrainian) Over 80 participants explored what makes a city smart, (in Ukrainian) and our project manager Iryna Skaliy detailed the major principles of a smart city.

Besides representatives from Ukrainian cities, experts from Georgia, Estonia, the Slovak Republic and Poland participated in the conference.

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