The UN Innovation Network (UNIN) is an informal, collaborative community of UN innovators interested in sharing their expertise and experience with others to promote and advance innovation within the UN System. The UNIN is open to innovators from all UN Agencies as well as external partners and to date, representatives from 65+ entities in over 70 countries have joined the Network.
Family farms make up 90 percent of the world’s farms and produce over 80 percent of the world’s food. Yet, paradoxically, they are often poor and food insecure themselves. Recognizing the successful innovations that farmers have already used and helping to spread them to other farmers is vital for our future of food and agriculture.
Innovation is not just good ideas, and it is much more than technology. Innovation in agriculture cuts across all dimensions of the production cycle along the entire value chain - from crop, forestry, fishery or livestock production to the management of inputs and resources to market access.
Ahead of World AIDS Day, which takes place on 1 December, UNAIDS is releasing a series of virtual reality films focused on HIV testing. Using the latest technology, the films help to demystify HIV testing. With goggles that viewers can wear for a full VR experience, the aim is to reach young people who may want to know their HIV status but are afraid or worried about taking an HIV test.
In the films, a group of talented young people re-enact several scenarios of a young woman’s journey to find out her HIV status. Going from her home to a local health clinic, the films allow viewers to explore different settings through a 360-degree experience.
All Maldivian nationals are covered under the Government’s universal health insurance plan called “Aasandha”. Aasandha data provides personal data records and insurance data for all Maldivians. Since the usual data source for non-communicable diseases is the Demographic and Health Surveys, which is carried out every 6 years (most recently in 2015 and before that in 2009), we thought we could get more up-to-date data on diabetes if we looked directly at the health insurance data.
Our team assumed that analyzing this data would serve as proxy indicators for the SDG indicators 3.8.1: Coverage of essential health services. Our idea was to have an anonymized look at the data from the universal health insurance plan to see what else we could learn about non-communicable diseases.
Most farmers in Zambia are smallholders who lack the means to access and participate in markets. Their limited ability to access information about additional markets outside their immediate community makes them effectively invisible to other traders who may be willing to pay them a better price for their crops. In response to this need of farmers to gain improved access markets, WFP launched an ambitious start-up in May 2017: Maano, a virtual farmers’ market that aims to help rural smallholder farmers sell their produce by providing them a trustworthy platform to advertise and sell their produce.
Although the app was a hit among the farmers, who went from having limited access to markets to being able to increase their visibility and profitability, a post-pilot user interface and user experience assessment highlighted several challenges the farmers faced while using the app.
Tools such as WhatsApp, social media messaging, automated voice messaging and chatbots, for instance, could help us deliver services smarter, better and faster while offering alternative ways for people to contact the centre.
From providing automated interactions for people who can’t read or write, to reaching tech-savvy youth, using these different tools allow more people to contact us at any given time – ensuring that more people’s request for assistance are received and their needs met.
Alpha Diallo was perhaps not the most obvious employee among his colleagues in Abidjan to take on the role of Innovation Fellow. As Head of Administration and Finance at UNHCR’s operation in Côte d’Ivoire, he wasn’t in daily contact with persons of concerns. But he had a hunch that shaking up assigned roles and pushing staff to get out of their comfort zone was just what the operation needed to see fresh ideas bubble up. His work over the past few months has served to prove his point.
A few years ago, Alpha discovered the work of Ideo, a design firm known for its human-centered approach to solving social problems, and was intrigued by the organization’s methods for designing and scaling projects. These methods could likely help the agency incubate new projects to improve its assistance to persons of concerns, he thought. When the Innovation Fellowship was announced, he noticed the program would be using principles that aligned with Ideo’s. The decision to apply was a no-brainer. “It was the perfect opportunity to contribute to changing an organization that is over half a century old,” he recalls.
Public transportation services are not always gender sensitive and safety concerns related to women’s mobility in metropolitan areas are at times overlooked. The lack of a safe and inclusive public transportation system influences many decisions that women make, from where to go to work, how far from home to travel to school, to where to shop for basic household items.
Pulse Lab Jakarta has teamed up with UN Women to gather insights on women’s mobility and travel choices in urban areas in order to design practical interventions that can improve the safety of women. What does safety mean for women when using public transportation at night? What is the travel experience like from the time they leave their house, go through transit and arrive at their final destination?
Innovation and creativity do not happen in a vacuum, yet often in organizational structures they are relegated to a specific space or team (e.g. an Innovation Lab) rather than set-up as a cross-cutting initiative. It is easy then to assume that the people who work within these spaces are doing the necessary innovation and new thinking to give their organization a competitive edge. However, innovation does not always work in such a neat, orderly way, and impactful innovation continually requires collaboration and perspectives beyond specific innovation teams.
We believe that creativity should flow within and around an organization, pulling different people from all parts of the structure into the design process. Yet, we so often encounter innovation as a specific unit or section, so how can we instead push to foster engagement in innovation beyond these units to better tap into employees’ creativity?
At its first meeting in New York on 24-25 September 2018, the UN Secretary-General’s High-level Panel on Digital Cooperation discussed opportunities offered by digital technologies for accelerating the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals and for empowering individuals and communities. Equally, it examined the risks associated with these technologies and current obstacles to digital trust and cooperation. A meeting summary is available here.
The overall objective of the Panel is to make practical proposals on how to strengthen cooperation in the digital space among governments, the private sector, civil society, international organizations, the technical and academic communities and all other relevant stakeholders, and thereby contribute to a broader global dialogue on how interdisciplinary and cooperative approaches can help ensure a safe and inclusive digital future.
Bright-eyed 15-year-old Khayrath Mohamed Kombo is heading off to camp in another city for the first time. But far from arriving to a sea of tents, sleeping bags and wilderness, this camp has a decidedly more high-tech environment. “When I heard about this I was excited because my dream is to learn more things and expand my knowledge,” says Khayrath, who is the only girl in her computer science club at school, back in Dar-es-Salaam, Tanzania.
She was among more than 80 girls from 34 African countries who attended the first Coding Camp in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia for 10 days in August 2018. The camp served to launch the African Girls Can CODE Initiative, a joint programme of the African Union Commission, UN Women Ethiopia and the International Telecommunication Union.