We are hiring… and it is not your run-of-the-mill position!


Filed under: Development 2.0 Social innovation

Yes yes, we are a bureaucracy. And no, you won’t get to slide to your office Google-style, but we still think we have a fun working opportunity if you are into social media and innovation.

Our team helps colleagues develop the next generation of services for our national partners (primarily governments). What this means is that we spend quite a lot of time scouting the development and private sector for emerging trends and innovative solutions that can help deliver better results in the areas of governance, environment and poverty reduction, among others. We then adapt those solutions to our context and help colleagues test them out, following agile development principles. If they prove to be successful, we assist others in taking them up.

So the most important quality we will be looking for in our new team member is a great deal of curiosity, the ability to conduct independent research and build partnerships with external organizations. You can expect to be involved in very diverse projects ranging from applying complexity theory for better monitoring of results to challenges to solve intractable development problems, from political risk analysis based on big data to organizing social innovation events. And we hope you’ll push us to explore areas that we cannot even imagine right now, provided they bring tangible benefits to our partners. Read more »

Kurash: Wrestling to eliminate violence against women?


Filed under: Central Asia Gender equality Human rights and rule of law

Two female kurash champions hold up their medals

There is no place for violence in a house where there is sport

Have you ever heard of kurash? No? Surprise surprise! Kurash is considered one of the most ancient wrestling sports that exist in the world. The exact age of this picturesque sport is not known, but it’s estimated to be at least a 3,500 year old tradition.

“Kurash” is an Uzbek word that means “achieving a goal by just means.” The technique, traditions, rules and philosophy of kurash were passed on from generation to generation, from fathers to children.

Over time, kurash became a favourite and valued tradition of nations who lived on the current territory of Uzbekistan. Kurash competitions were organized during festivities, weddings, and big bazaars.

The International Kurash Association was created back in 1998 and the first world championship of kurash took place in Uzbekistan in 1999. It quickly caught up – today the Association unites 117 national kurash federations in Asia, Europe, Pan America, Africa and Oceania, and the number of member states is growing every year.

Why would UNDP partner with the  International Kurash Association and especially for advocating non-violence? Read more »

Development data still needs its Captain Kirk Picard


Filed under: Development Development 2.0

Data from Star Trek :O)


So often when I work on development projects data is in the centre of the discussions. ‘We do not really know this’, ‘We have no real evidence for this or that’. Most of the time, however, I have difficulties imagining what data looks like and what it actually can do. Millennia ago Star Trek found a solution. Here he is:

He is quite smart. Dressed impeccably. Most of all, he has this understanding look – almost human. According to Wikipedia he even became a sex symbol.

Data is good, solves any problem, draws logical conclusions and he’s infinitely faster than present day computers, seems almost right from the beginning, until Captain Kirk decides otherwise….

Although we often feel we do not have the data we need, we want a lot of it. It helps us come to terms with our actions, logically reason how our actions will lead to results, and with hindsight explain why things worked, or not.

Until not so long ago, data needed to be collected, analysed and subsequently translated into policy recommendations – the traditional time consuming and often tedious process. Read more »

Mardamej: reflections from Armenia’s social innovation camp


Filed under: Development 2.0 Social inclusion Social innovation

Mardamej Reload - second social innovation camp in Armenia - room with people sitting in rows, everyone with a laptop

Mardamej Reload – second social innovation camp in Armenia

Much like last year’s Social Innovation Camp, I returned home on Sunday night both shattered and elated by the experience.

The event saw all six teams compete furiously for two awards… one picked by the jury, the other by the participants.

It was a very close run contest.  The jury had a difficult choice… Read more »

Live: Vaira Vike-Freiberga lecture on the role of emerging donors in global development


Filed under: Development

Vaira Vike-Freiberga, former President of Latvia, political leader from the region, and active international advisor, will speak about emerging donors, transition experience and the Eastern Partnership at the Kapuscinski development lecture in Tartu, Estonia on 27 November 2012.

You can watch the lecture live at 1:15 pm CET / 2:15 pm EET and join the conversation on Twitter @kapulectures (See dates and times around the world). Use #kapu in your tweets!

Former recipients of development aid are now sharing their transition experience and supporting poorer nations.

  • How can developing countries benefit from the know-how of the European emerging donors such as Estonia, Latvia, Poland or Czech Republic?
  • Are donors and recipients of aid within the Eastern Partnership on the same wavelength?

Read more »

Young people at the forefront of HIV prevention in Uzbekistan


Filed under: HIV

Interactive games help raise awareness about HIV prevention

Interactive games to help raise awareness about HIV prevention

Zebiniso Muhsinova is only 21. Nevertheless, she conducts her HIV awareness mini-sessions among schoolchildren with the confidence and flair of a prominent trainer.

“Active participation of young people, their eagerness to learn and protect themselves from HIV, sexually transmitted diseases and drug abuse are amazing. Practice shows that our students are generally aware of these issues; however they lack an in-depth understanding of their consequences, their impact on the human body, and how best to avoid them. I strive to fill these gaps, and feel truly rewarded by their reaction to my sessions.”

Zebiniso Muhsinova

UNDP is working with the “Kamolot” Youth Movement – the largest youth organization in the country, with a wide network.  They carry out activities all across the country to raise awareness on HIV prevention, sexually transmitted diseases, drug abuse and advocate for a healthy lifestyle. Read more »

Announcing the UNDP/Nesta renewable energy challenge: Can you help people affected by war? #UNDPprize


Filed under: Development Environment Peace and security Poverty Social inclusion Social innovation

I want to share the story of Milos Bosnjak and his family. They own a cow, one calf and 163 sheep. But after returning home when the war ended in Bosnia and Herzegovina, they didn’t have electricity.

And they still don’t.

Because they live off the grid, they cannot store and refrigerate milk, or produce cheese – which they could sell to generate much-needed income.

Milos is among 1 million people that returned to Bosnia and Herzegovina after the war.

It is to help people like Milos’ family that today we are proud to launch the UNDP renewable energy challenge.

Milos Bosnjak and family - living without electricity for 10 years

Milos Bosnjak and family – living without electricity for 10 years after returning home

We’re also pleased to be working with our partner, Nesta, given their extensive experience on using challenges to find solutions to intractable problems. (See: Using prizes to spur innovation)

Can you help?

We’re looking for an individual or company that can help us find a renewable energy solution to provide off-grid power to cover the needs of returnee families in rural Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Read more »

3 ways to tell when we’re actually going to ‘end AIDS’


Filed under: Health HIV Human rights and rule of law Migration and remittances Social inclusion

UNAIDS released their annual report this week on the state of the global AIDS epidemic, and the media headlines were universally optimistic.

Ending AIDS’ is possible in our lifetime. Possible, yes. But we are not on pace for it quite yet. Indeed the achievements reported are real, and they’re saving millions of lives and promoting inclusive development throughout the world.

But at our current rate of progress we are unlikely to achieve the UNAIDS goals of zero new infections, zero AIDS-related deaths and zero HIV-related stigma.

Here are three clear milestones to look for to know when the end is in sight. Read more »

Mardamej: Reload 2012


Filed under: Development 2.0 Social inclusion Social innovation

QR code for Mardamej Reload - social innovation camp in Armenia

Tomorrow, UNDP in Armenia will host Mardamej reload (in Armenian). Once again, this festival of co-creation is teaming up with Social Innovation Camp Ltd to deliver six projects identified, designed and implemented by volunteers.

The deadline for submissions closed last weekend and we had an even greater response than last year: 75 ideas!

As usual, the itch workshops were central to getting beyond the “usual suspects.”  But this year, we didn’t deliver them all ourselves. Some of the participants from last year’s event volunteered to spread the Mardamej spirit.

With the extra time this freed up, we held a Creative Game (pdf) with civil society organizations (CSOs), the Government and the corporate social responsibility team from Orange Armenia. The event enabled us to think in detail about the issue of corruption with those that work at the coal-face of service delivery.

The Creative Game discussions were very abstract – and not entirely action-oriented.  But I’ll reserve judgment until I receive the facilitator’s report. One positive outcome of the event is that we confirmed participants from the Ministries of Health, Education and Finance in the Social Innovation Camp.

Read more »

Disaster? There’s an app for that…


Filed under: Climate change Development 2.0 Disaster response Peace and security Social innovation

This post was originally published on the national UNDP website

screen shot of mobile app that uses public data to help keep citizens safe, fYR Macedonia

New mobile app uses public data to help keep citizens safe

“I guess I’m a bit of an information freak!” says Vasko Popovski, UNDP’s Project Manager for Disaster and Climate Risks, when asked how he came up with the idea for a nifty new app that’s set to revolutionize public access to data on dangerous events like earthquakes, floods and fires and potential hazards like violent thunderstorms and heavy snowfalls.

With a flick of his fingers Vasko scrolls through a dozen screens listing every dangerous event currently verified and recorded in the country—from floods to power station malfunctions and floods—with maps clearly detailing the exact locations of each event.

Clicking on a highlighted location brings up specific information about the status of the event and essential advice and information on how to deal with the danger, including emergency service numbers and links for alerting others to the problem.

Read more »