Phone-charging shoes? Toto, we’re not in Kansas anymore

27 May 2015 by Sandra Ismanovski, Communication and Partnerships Officer, UNDP fYR Macedonia

Two winners emerged out of the 130 submitted ideas to the Climate Challenge. Photo: UNDP fYR Macedonia
A dynamic team of four Macedonian university students has recently come up with one of those brilliant inventions that make you scratch your head and wonder ‘How come nobody thought of that before?’ They’ve proposed an energy-saving device that makes use of our everyday walking and running to generate energy for charging devices like mobile phones and tablets. As UNDP, we launched a call for ideas to tackle Climate Change, back in December 2014. Out of the 130 ideas submitted, our panel picked the ten most promising and organized a 2-day Climate campto help support the shortlisted candidates. After a few months of development, the team behind phone-charging shoes now has a great opportunity to turn its idea into reality—a cash prize of 10,000 US dollars as the winners of the country’s Climate Challenge for innovative solutions to help prevent and mitigate the effects of climate change. … Read more

Social innovation labs: Game-changers in developing countries?

20 May 2015 by Jasmina Belcovska-Tasevska, Social Innovation Specialist, UNDP fYR Macedonia

As MindLab’s Deputy Director Kit Lykketoft pointed out in her recentblog, 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? Only a year and a half ago, we still weren’t sure of the answers to those questions. … Read more

Albania: Where a picture’s worth a thousand words

29 Apr 2015 by Nora Kushti, Communication Specialist, UNDP Albania

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. I immediately contacted our UNDP project office in Shkodër providing them with the approximate time when the photo was taken. A few days later, I received it: A photo of Mark’s great-grandfather, there among the half a million photos extant in the Marubi archive. … Read more

A symbolic change: Time to rebrand justice?

10 Apr 2015 by Lucio Valerio Sarandrea, Chief Technical Advisor on Rule of Law, UNDP Kyrgyzstan

Redrawing justice: What picture would you choose to represent justice?
Justice is often symbolized as a blindfolded woman holding a scale in one hand and a sword in the other. I believe this symbol contributes to the ongoing perception that justice is closely linked with coercion. In line with global efforts to ensure access to justice, I would like to suggest looking for a new symbol that can better convey these principles. Time and again, I have conducted small experiments with many people from diverse backgrounds – including teenagers, university students, lawyers, journalists and pensioners. Most commonly relate the concept of justice to prison bars, handcuffs, or police officers. Many witty answers focus on the blindfolding. Once a student joked that Lady Justice would hopefully hit with the sword only after taking off the cover on her eyes. Somebody else quipped that she would be peeping the whole time through the blindfold. … Read more

A Call to Action: Stop “Bride Kidnapping"

26 Feb 2015 by Lucio Valerio Sarandrea, Chief Technical Advisor on Rule of Law, UNDP Kyrgyzstan

Although local activists continue their efforts to stop the tradition of bride kidnapping, more work is needed to make a difference.
One of the less pleasant things associated with Kyrgyzstan is the cruel tradition of “bride kidnapping”. Recent research from local NGOs show that at least fifty percent of the marriages in the country involve elements of this ritual. Essentially, “bride kidnapping” is the ritual of ambushing a young woman and detaining her until she agrees to marry her kidnapper. In the best-case scenario, she is subject to enormous psychological pressure and brainwash from female relatives of the kidnapper to accept the marriage; the rest of the time, she is a subject of rape. I read a lot of sad stories about this tradition, most of which consist of cultural justifications based on the poor economic situation of Kyrgyzstan. But perhaps the most striking story of all is the direct account of a dark-eyed young woman who I will call Roza. … Read more

Build it yourself: Welcome to the tech for citizen engagement challenge

18 Feb 2015 by Nilgun Arif , Harry Gibbs and Nadine Abou Elgheit

It’s called the IKEA effect.
You value something more when you’ve helped build it. Surely anyone who’s ever suffered through a harrowing afternoon assembling that pernickety SVÄRTA loft bed frame can recall the swell of pride and accomplishment after finally figuring it out. Might not a similar thing be the case when it comes to the various institutions of governance? If you are able to participate in the institutions making the decisions that affect your life, you are more likely to associate pride, trust and responsibility with them. Going a step further, recent research out of Cyprus has revealed that greater trust in institutions makes people more willing to try to overcome sources of conflict with people from communities outside their own. … Read more

You may ask yourself, how did I get here? Let’s #TalkInequality

15 Jan 2015 by Elena Danilova-Cross, Programme Specialist, Poverty and Inequality, UNDP Europe and Central Asia

Just how bad is global inequality today? Upon the launch of UNDP’s Humanity Divided report last year, Helen Clark noted that the richest eight per cent of the world’s population earns half of the world’s total income. She continued: Not only do 1.2 billion people continue to live on under US $1.25 dollars a day, but inequalities in income and wealth are often compounded by inequalities in access to power, and disparities in health and education. Reports like these beckon questions. They also demand answers. … Read more

A child’s guide to corruption in Kyrgyzstan

03 Nov 2014 by Lucio Valerio Sarandrea, Chief Technical Advisor on Rule of Law, UNDP Kyrgyzstan

Photo: UNDP Kyrgyzstan
There is nothing that gives me more energy, enthusiasm, and excitement for the future than talking with children. Over past few days, I had the opportunity to visit several schools in Bishkek to talk about my work with UNDP in Kyrgyzstan and the Rule of Law team. I spoke with children between the ages of five and 17, and I have to be honest: I learned a great deal about both this country and my work. One of the topics I talked about was corruption and the damages it wreaks on a society. I started by asking the students how they would feel if a classmate was paying the teacher to get higher grades. Almost everybody raised his or her hands, crying out that this was wrong. … Read more

Reinventing public services has to start with the user

21 Oct 2014 by Nana Tsiklauri and Sesili Verdzadze, UNDP Georgia

Only by incremental experiments, with an eye on effectiveness and putting the end-users at the heart of the design process, can we truly hope to transform public services to meet our citizens’ needs. Transforming public services to meet the true expectations of the citizens and create public value is indisputably a challenge. The question is how to prototype, test, and scale up public services in response to this challenge? … Read more

Volatility and the ‘new normal’: A discussion with Helen Clark

25 Jun 2014 by Ariel Rubin, Communication Specialist, UNDP Europe and Central Asia

Helen Clark in Zadar, Croatia. Photo: UNDP
Last week, at the International Development Conference for South-South Cooperation, I was lucky enough to have a conversation with my boss: former Prime Minister of New Zealand, Forbes’ 23rd most powerful woman in the world, and (to my delight) Blood on the Tracks-era Bob Dylan fan, Helen Clark. Ms. Clark is presiding over the UNDP at a time when great change is underway both within the organization and beyond. Among all the things I wanted to know, one theme seemed to tie it together: How is UNDP preparing for a future that seems to be more and more difficult to predict? … Read more