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.
Join UNAIDS for the launch of the Health Innovation Exchange, a platform to showcase innovations with potential to deliver large-scale impact for countries reaching the SDG3 targets, and to connect them to innovative financing solutions.
UN Solutions Summit is an catalytic process that lifts up and advances the work of exceptional teams with innovative solutions to advance the SDGs.
UNHCR has always been innovating. Currently, in Quito, Diego Nardi is working on challenges around how we communicate with communities. In our Global Learning Centre, Clarisse Ntampaka is working out how to train people on protection more effectively. In Nairobi, Sandra Aluoch and Kent Awiti are scaling connected learning across Africa. Netta Rankin is grappling with Artificial Intelligence and human resources systems. The commitment and efforts to innovate exist in our organisation, in the obvious but also in the prosaic. They exist agnostic of age, and professional profile, and they exist because of a huge diversity of thought.
I’m not making the case for innovation being a panacea, I’m saying that it’s an important tool, an important part of what we do, and how we do it — including how we solve challenges big and small. At such a complicated and complex time, we must not only invest in innovation but also our ability to effectively change and adapt.
A UNESCO publication produced in collaboration with Germany and the EQUALS Skills Coalition, I’d Blush if I Could, features recommendations on actions to overcome global gender gaps in digital skills, with a special examination of the impact of gender prejudice coded into some of the most prevalent artificial intelligence (AI) applications such as digital voice assistants.
The publication locates this prejudice in the gender imbalance of technical teams leading the development of frontier technologies and identifies policy solutions to help women and girls cultivate strong digital skills.
The recommendations about the gendering of AI are urgent in light of the explosive growth of voice assistants like Amazon’s Alexa technology. Almost all of these assistants are given female names and voices and express a ‘personality’ that is engineered to be uniformly subservient. The title of the publication borrows its name from the response that Siri, the Apple voice assistant use
Pigs play a key role in Papua New Guinea, both culturally and economically. Rising global demand for pork presents new export opportunities, but only if farmers can prove the quality of their product. Together with the International Telecommunications Unit, FAO is creating a distributed ledger system (a blockchain-based system) that can track livestock and allow consumers to buy with confidence by verifying the history of their pigs. Before the system was implemented, consumers had no means of verifying this information. The implementation of the new tracking system is vital for establishing consumer trust and ensuring farmers can expand their markets and earn a fair return on their investments.
As part of UNICEF’s work to support the Government of Indonesia’s response to the earthquake and tsunami struck Palu in 2018, UNICEF piloted a new WhatsApp partnership on the digital platform U-Report.
U-Report has traditionally used text messages to crowdsource people’s opinions and participation to deliver impact on UNICEF and partner NGO programmes. UNICEF asks young people about issues that matter to them which then informs UNICEF’s daily work, but when a natural disaster happens, the platform has a dual use: First, UNICEF, the Government and NGO partners can send short, simple, useful messages to thousands of people to keep them safe. In turn, the subscribers can reply, in real time, to tell the responders what they need to survive.
For the first time, innovators from eleven United Nations entities will come together to participate in the first Interagency Innovation Bootcamp, jointly hosted by the UN Innovation Network and the World Food Programme Innovation Accelerator in Munich, with the common purpose of working through game-changing humanitarian solutions in the same space — all aiming at tackling one or more of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals.
The bootcamp is a week-long high-intensity training programme to spark and catalyse new innovation projects across the UN. Innovators will refine their projects, rapidly test solutions and develop business models to tackle some of the world’s most challenging problems. Recognizing the equal importance of all 17 SDGs (especially the 17th, “Partnerships for the Goals”), the bootcamp will be an embodiment of what the UN strives to represent, including international cooperation and harmonization of actions.
In a remote town in Ethiopia, a health worker learns lifesaving midwife tips from a WiFi-enabled tablet linked to a projector. In the Za’atari refugee camp in Jordan, displaced Syrian engineers help run a giant solar plant so families can cook, study, and work. In Kampala, Uganda, a team of analysts uses artificial intelligence to study public radio broadcasts and learn what marginalized communities really worry about.
These stories span issues and geographies, yet they share a common thread: They are stories of how the United Nations is innovating to improve lives on the ground.
Farmers in Namibia now have new crop varieties of cowpea and sorghum that are more tolerant to drought and pests planted this year, thanks to nuclear technology provided with the support of the IAEA and the Food and Agriculture Organization. Traditional seed varieties no longer meet the needs of close to 700,000 agricultural households in northern Namibia, where drought and poor soil inhibit crop productivity
In response, the IAEA and the FAO have supported Namibia through the transfer of technology and helped to build capabilities in plant breeding and soil and water management. The new varieties are expected to benefit over 8,000 farmers in the first season, and more farmers will be able to get involved as the seed production increases, Andowa said.
PAHO’s Health Emergencies Department and UNICEF’s Office of Innovation joined forces to explore the potential of machine learning to predict areas of yellow fever incidence in the Americas and assess the importance of geographic and environmental factors, employing PAHO’s seminal work and unique datasets. Increasing availability of digital data and development of Machine Learning techniques, and Artificial Intelligence in general, has proven extremely useful in understanding patterns of disease and health dynamics in populations. This trend of popular field of research called digital epidemiology uses digital data collected and generated inside and outside the public health system.
Ideas are the lifeblood of innovation. To accelerate rural transformation while tackling rural poverty, food insecurity, nutrition, job creation and climate change, innovative ideas are needed. That is why IFAD in partnership with the Global Innovation Lab for Climate Finance (the Lab), launched a contest in 2018 to crowdsource ideas and unlock investments into sustainable agriculture in West and Central Africa. Investors and development partners have evaluated the candidates, and this month two winners emerged: Bringing climate risk insurance to smallholder farmers and Promoting climate smart agriculture.
Padma Chaudhary, a mother of two, leaves early in the morning from her home to her e-rickshaw stall almost 20 km away. Decked in a smart, long red coat that matches her bright red chariot on wheels, she marvels at how much her life has changed in the months since she acquired the vehicle, which has allowed her to work independently. An e-rickshaw is a battery-operated three-wheeler that is a greener alternative to rickshaws that run on fuel. “I never expected there to be initiatives willing to support rural women like us,” says Chaudhary, as she talks about the e-rickshaw she received from Pourakhi Nepal, UN Women’s implementing partner, some seven months ago.
WFP is recruiting a software engineer to lead software development projects in the team.