UNDP staff helps protect local biodiversity


Filed under: Environment

UNDP staffers getting rid of invasive plant species, Devinska Kobyla nature reserve

UNDP staffers remove invasive plant species, Devinska Kobyla nature reserve

A commitment to public service? A beautiful day on the Devinska Kobyla escarpment? An outing bringing together colleagues and their families? One or more of these reasons brought staff from the UNDP Bratislava Regional Centre out of their beds on the weekend and onto a wind-blown but sunny hillside north of the Castle Devin for the annual green outdoor activity.

Each year, UNDP tries to give something back to its national host country and raise awareness on environmental issues within the office and beyond. Read more »

Visualizing Montenegro’s budget: A step towards participatory budgeting?


Filed under: Governance Social inclusion Development 2.0

Visualized Kenyan budget - circles of different sizes and colours representing different sectors

Visuals for the Kenyan budget: One of the many examples inspiring us

We are working on an exciting new project with the Ministry of Finance of the Government of Montenegro and can’t wait to see initial results. Our project forms part of the Open Government Partnership commitments Montenegro made this year, at the Open Government Partnership’s inaugural session: we want to visualize the 2012 national budget, hoping it will spark the interest of citizens.

We are mindful of the fact that understanding how a central budget works is a complex feat, to say the least. Up to this point, the national budget has piqued the interest of NGOs which rely on a free access to information law to monitor public sector expenditures, whereas citizens themselves were not that involved.

Read more »

Everybody’s talking Rio+20, but who remembers Capacity 21?


Filed under: Development

Little girls dressed up as tulips, at Kazakhstan's tulip festival

We were not this young when the report was published

Rio+20, the United Nations conference on sustainable development called for significant investment in capacity development for sustainable development: the outcome document mentions capacity building more than 60 times.

It almost seems as if we are starting afresh. Now, who remembers Capacity 21?

Capacity 21 was part of the sustainable development strategy that came out of the Earth Summit in 1992. It was intended to support countries with planning and implementation of participatory, integrated and decentralized strategies for sustainable development. It initially ran from 1993 to 2002, and was extended under the name Capacity 2015 until 2010.

An evaluation was carried out in 2002, and their findings still seem remarkably valid: Read more »

Uzbekistan’s shift to a paperless office


Filed under: Governance

Young office workers in Uzbekistan on computers, using scanners

E-offices, helping to increase savings and productivity

Imagine ten years from now, you’re sitting on a comfortable sofa watching the latest evening news. You receive a message that your request for early retirement has been received and is being processed by the local administration.

Does it sound a bit unrealistic? With advancements in information technologies and Government efforts to shift to e-services, this could be a realistic demand.

A bit of history

Back in 2005, the Government of Uzbekistan issued a decree to further develop information and communication technologies. In 2010, UNDP’s Local Governance Support project helped develop and install a system to manage  electronic documents called EHujjat in the Djizakh region.

The system includes software that allows all 12 districts of the regional administrations in the Djizakh region to instantaneously exchange information and documents.

Read more »

Meet Igor Stojanovic, community outreach lawyer


Filed under: Governance Poverty Social inclusion Human rights and rule of law Health Peace and security Roma

Igor Stojanovic greets a United Nations delegation on a visit to the citizen advisory help desk

Igor Stojanovic greets a UN delegation on a visit to the citizen advisory help desk

Igor Stojanovic is from Vladicin Han. He has a law degree from Belgrade University. The job market in the south is saturated with lawyers, with many graduates from Belgrade, Kragujevac and Nis law faculties.

After graduation, Igor was working in Belgrade, barely able to make ends meet and not making use of his law degree. He was thinking about leaving the Pcinja region forever.

Fortunately for people living in the region, Igor was hired as a lawyer, by a United Nations supported programme to work in the municipality’s Citizen Assistance Centre.

The Centre is  pioneering a citizen advisory service, offering free of charge:

  • Legal aid
  • Medical care
  • Psychosocial support and
  • Administrative assistance to marginalized groups, such as refugees, internally displaced persons, returnees, Roma, people with disabilities and those living in remote areas

Read more »

How can nonprofits work with those who will never want to work for them?


Filed under: Development Development 2.0 Social innovation

Development practitioners: Maybe not who you think.

I was fortunate enough to attend a presentation recently by Harvard Business School professor Carliss Baldwin, who introduced me to the concept of “non-contractible effort” – the value-creating people (and actions) that an organization will never be able to (formally) hire.

The concept was originally developed in the context of intellectual property rights debates, but I think it also has some broader organizational implications.

As Professor Baldwin put it, “not all smart people work for you” and yet the success of an organization that wants to innovate (in a world of market-facing innovation labs) might well depend on finding ways to identify this distributed, non-contractible “research and development” talent and find meaningful ways to cooperate with it.

Read more »

The social side of crowdsourcing


Filed under: Development 2.0 Peace and security

Ad for crowdsourcing graffiti project in Cyprus

Ad appearing in newspapers in Cyprus to get people to help map graffiti

Our recent experience on crowdsourcing (plus the precious advice we got from the authority himself, Patrick Meier), as we were setting up our newest project, What the walls are saying, has taught us the value of taking the time to understand the social infrastructure within which you want to unleash a new technological tool.

Setting up an Ushahidi platform these days is the easy part, and indeed we did it in a day! Thinking about the complex interrelations of values, motivations, sensitivities, as well as obstacles that prompt (or hinder) citizens to contribute to a crowdsourcing project is the real challenge.

Read more »

South Eastern Europe is making government communications history


Filed under: Governance Development 2.0

*This post was originally published on the NAGC’s blog: Adventures in Government Communications

Part of the Open Government Partnership logo - coloured stripes

On September 16, government communicators in the nation states of South Eastern Europe will be signing an historic declaration of commitment to the principles of open government. The signing will be the culmination of the first ever South Eastern European Government Communication Conference (SEECOM) in Budva, Montenegro.

Led by the nation of Montenegro, SEECOM will bring together the region’s government communications professionals for training, discussion of best practices, and to establish a network for collaboration and information sharing. Similar in concept and structure to our own National Association of Government Communicators’ annual Communications School, SEECOM has an aggressive agenda, tackling topics such as media relations, internal communications, online communications, and engaging the public.

The event is being organized in partnership with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in Montenegro and the German political foundation Konrad Adenauer Stiftung (KAS), with support from the U.S. Embassy in Montenegro.

A few months ago, I had the honor of meeting one of the brilliant minds behind the concept of the conference, when NAGC entertained a delegation from Montenegro visiting the United States under the State Department’s international leader development program. Vuk Vujnovic, head of International Public Relations for the Government of Montenegro, led the delegation in late January and we had a terrific discussion about the role of a government communicator, especially in how it relates to achieving open government.

Read more »

Ask Zack


Filed under: Peace and security

Zack in Tbilisi, Georgia at the site of a UNDP-supported weapons reduction programme

Zack in Tbilisi, Georgia at the site of a UNDP-supported programme that safely disposes of weapons / cluster munitions.

International Peace Day is coming up, and we’re planning on doing a short interview with our resident specialist on conflict prevention, Zack Taylor.

I was thinking about asking him:

  1. What are the issues for our region when it comes to conflict prevention or peace building?
  2. There are some frozen conflicts in our region. What is the way forward for people stuck in those situations, and how does it affect their economic and social development?
  3. Tell us about an example of UNDP work to prevent conflict, or promote peace in the region, that you think made a real difference in people’s lives.
  4. What’s the role of women in preventing conflict, and how does UNDP support women’s involvement?
  5. What is an untold story that you want people to know about?

BUT then we thought it would be more fun to open up the floor for questions.

We’ll collect your questions, and depending on how many we get, we’ll ask him all/some of your questions, record the interview and post it on International Peace Day, on 21 September.

What would you like to ask Zack?


Poland: Socially responsible public procurement


Filed under: Social inclusion

Over the past few years, public procurement (the purchasing of goods or services by public authorities) has been grabbing more and more attention – in 2010 it accounted for 18 percent of European Union gross domestic product (GDP). Such a substantial amount of money can be a strong instrument for the promotion of social standards.

The European Commission has taken notice, and is promoting socially responsible public procurement (See: Buying Social).

Socially responsible public procurement can influence the marketplace, because by purchasing wisely, public authorities can give companies a real chance to promote:

  • Social integration and social inclusion
  • Responsible management
  • Accessibility
  • Design for all

This would also be done while achieving compliance with effective expenditure.

Read more »