The Accelerator Labs represent UNDP’s new strategy and thinking in relation to development and advocating bolder innovation.
The new Lab will be one of 60 labs worldwide that seek to accelerate progress towards 21st century “frontier challenges”. It’s building to be the world’s largest and fastest learning network around development challenges.
The Resident Representative for UNDP Pacific Office in Fiji, Levan Bouadze said “The challenges and complexities of our time leave us no choice but to invest in bold innovation and breakthroughs, to ensure no one is left behind.”
Together with our core partners, the State of Qatar, the Federal Republic of Germany and the Government of Italy, 60 Accelerator Labs serving 78 countries will work together with national and global partners to find radically new approaches that fit the complexity of current development challenges.
Traditional approaches to development are struggling to keep up with today’s social and environmental challenges therefore, the new Labs will try to address the following questions:
How do we better tackle complex and fast-moving “frontier challenges”?
How do we find the most relevant solutions that work locally?
How do we learn more quickly about what works and what doesn’t?
Essentially the Lab moves innovation from the margins to the center of UNDP’s programming work.
“Our current approaches are not making enough progress against 21st century frontier development challenges,” said Bouadze. Hence, the Lab intends to enable programmes to apply innovation approaches in their work, and shift mindsets on ‘how development is done’.
The Lab forms a learning network of 60 Accelerator Labs across the world where Offices can learn rapidly from each other on what works and what doesn’t.
Furthermore, if multiple Labs are working on a challenge in parallel, they benefit from each other’s learning in real-time, creating a powerful collective learning effect.
UNDP Pacific Office in Fiji Innovation Specialist, Johannes Schunter said one of the first tasks of the Lab will be to identify which frontier development challenges we need to focus on. “These include climate change and climate migration, coastal zone and oceans management, waste management, as well as digitalization of government and the economy.”
Schunter added that a core principle of the Lab will be to go out and discover local solutions and work with the local communities. “The Lab will then use the insights from local communities to design & execute portfolios of parallel experiments that have a chance to move the needle for one of the Pacific’s frontier challenges at a systems level.”
“The grassroots approach adopted by the Labs emphasizes the importance of exploring socially acceptable and locally-sourced solutions that will make addressing 21st century development challenges more effective and efficient,” H.E. Khalifa bin Jassem Al-Kuwari of Qatar said at the global launch in New York in July.
“We are proud to partner with UNDP in this global experiment. We believe this is a bold move that matches the ambition of the 2030 Agenda,” said Dr Maria Flachsbarth from the German Development Agency (GIZ).
UNDP looks forward to engaging with partners from Government, civil society and the private sector in the Pacific on designing and learning from new experiments that have a chance to tackle some of the big challenges of the Pacific.
Photo caption: Resident Representative for UNDP Pacific Office in Fiji, Levan Bouadze