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.
Take a look at recordings from webinars hosted by the UN Innovation Network in collaboration with UN Entities to explore different types of innovation, approaches to building architectures for and creating a culture of innovation.
Youth4Nature is calling on young people from all over the world to submit their stories about nature-based solutions
IIDEA is an initiative which incubates small-scale regional integration projects, proposed and implemented by civil society, private sector and other interest groups in East Africa.
The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration and the Global Compact on Refugees recognize the need for reliable, disaggregated statistics on migration that are nationally relevant and internationally comparable. However still today, there is scarcity of basic data on international migration and existing data are not fully analysed, utilized or shared.
A catalytic gathering at United Nations Headquarters during UN General Assembly week
Innovation Norway is looking for bold innovation projects aiming to improve humanitarian response that saves lives, alleviates suffering and sustains people’s dignity.
Twelve teams competed in Afghanistan’s largest and first-ever hackathon on women, peace and security, aiming to create a national platform for rural and urban women to voice their priorities for peace. The hackathon, called #code4peace, was organized by UN Women in the province of Bamyan, Afghanistan.
“A hackathon is traditionally all about technology, but #Code4peace is different,” said Aleta Miller, UN Women Representative in Afghanistan, adding that this social innovation hackathon aims to “get the most Afghan women’s voices represented in peace, whether a woman lives in Kabul, or the Wakan corridor in Badakhshan, or the furthest village in Nangahar.”
The benefits of distributed ledgers have become a hot topic of discussion and debate in the technology and payments arenas. Proponents argue that they are transparent, faster, cheaper and more secure than other systems. While all these assertions may have some truth in principle (depending on the use case), a deeper dive reveals a set of more complicated issues and qualifications and, in some cases, issues of legality. Distributed ledgers may run on very different protocols, or rules. Different governance ultimately means that these ledgers have very different characteristics and ways of operating. In addition to this, some of the advantages of distributed ledgers at the same time present disadvantages. Below we unpack a few key questions.
Are distributed ledgers transparent? In principle, yes, but not necessarily.
Are distributed ledgers more efficient? Potentially but not necessarily.
Are distributed ledgers more secure? In principle, yes, but not necessarily.
From UNHCR Nigeria’s perspective, what went right and what could have gone better on a recent engagement?
When faced with new or perplexing challenges, it’s not unusual for the UN Refugee Agency’s (UNHCR) country operations to turn to UNHCR’s Innovation Service. After all, the Innovation Service is tasked with supporting the needs of country operations by helping them develop more effective approaches for working with refugees and other displaced people.
But what exactly does it look like from the country operation’s perspective when the Innovation Service collaborates with them on an engagement? Is it helpful or can it sometimes be a hindrance? Does the operation develop new approaches to identify challenges and test creative solutions? Do they have the confidence to use these new approaches and tools in the future for other challenges, even after the engagement with the Innovation Service is completed? Does the engagement build competency and confidence in using the innovation approach?
Humanitarian crises require that we make difficult choices. As they increasingly become complex, as are their impact on the environment, the choices we make must be the right ones. And to make sound, informed decisions, we need data.
Thankfully today, all those who work in the environmental field have at their fingertips a combination of global environmental data, technologies and data science tools and techniques. These have the potential to create insights that can underpin a sustainable future and profoundly transform our relationship with our planet.
For decades, the UN Environment Programme has been working with the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, and partners such as the UN Refugee Agency, to make sense of environmental data for improved humanitarian planning. In December last year, UN Environment with support from the UN Refugee Agency piloted an innovative tool for environmental data gathering and risk assessment, the Nexus Environmental Assessment Tool (NEAT+).
Air pollution in Kenya’s capital is on the rise, and there is no escape from it. In an effort to measure this, UN-Habitat’s Urban Pathways project partnered with the University of Nairobi’s Maker Space Lab to train citizens to measure air pollution.
The project is called “Open Seneca Nairobi – Air Quality Monitoring powered by citizen science”. Open Seneca works to create a global air quality sensor network using citizen science. Residents learn how to build air pollution sensors. These are attached to various vehicles and devices for a set period of time to measure and contrast the air pollution in different areas of a city. The results from these experiments are used to raise awareness about urban air pollutants along transport corridors, and can result in changes in commuters behaviour as well as influencing urban planning and legislation.
Air pollution has emerged as a growing health issue across Asia and the Pacific and affects the lives of millions of citizens. With this concern in mind, Pulse Lab Jakarta has been investigating how to deploy a machine learning model it developed to nowcast air quality using deep learning. Building on exploratory research conducted in 2018 and in line with our mission to build collaboration and exchange expertise and technical skills with the private sector, we applied to the Computer Vision for Global Challenges (CV4GC) initiative and were delighted that our proposal was selected as one of the final 17 challenge winners. During the workshop, we presented our nowcasting air pollution model and received expert feedback from the computer vision community on how to refine its development.
Aquaponics has become all the trend. The combination of aquaculture, the practice of fish farming, and hydroponics, the cultivation of plants in water without soil, aquaponics is one example of recirculating systems generally called Integrated Aquaculture Agriculture (IAA). Some integrated farms can reduce water consumption by 90% compared to traditional agriculture. This is very good news for the agriculture sector, which worldwide, uses about 70% of available freshwater.
In aquaponics, water serves a dual purpose: hosting fish and growing crops, generating two products at once. This isn’t the only benefit; the waste from the fish fertilizes the water used to irrigate the plants, and the plants clean the water for the fish. It is a win-win situation. Producing more food with less resources: this is part of the future of agriculture.
To create a learning network whose speed matches the pace of change in development, we need a new kind of intelligence. We’re working with Nesta’s Centre for Collective Intelligence to learn how to tap into distributed, real time intelligence as a global good. To start, this means learning to see in a new way — getting more real-time data. This work has started in exciting prospects, but it is not yet operating at scale. We need more of it. While a minister may need to make development investment decisions with data that is two years old, who would cross the street based on data from 2017?
But getting faster data is not enough. We also need to find better ways to channel people’s insights, views and activation towards intractable development problems. We’ll also need to learn to model new forms of accountability that tap into shifting and varying realities.
“My name is Lihle, and I am a young person living with HIV. I am here to bring hope to those who are feeling lost. Remember, you are not alone,” says Lihle Bhebhe, a young woman featured in 360HIV, a virtual reality film launched by the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) in 2018 to address a major obstacle in the AIDS response globally: The social stigma of living with HIV.
In the 360HIV films, Lihle takes us through her journey as a young person getting tested for, and diagnosed with, HIV. She meets with a nurse and a peer counselor, and builds a plan and support system so that she can continue to live a full life.
UNAIDS partnered with Google and Makhulu, a creative media agency in South Africa, to put viewers in the shoes of young people like Lihle living with HIV/AIDS and their health care workers. By being fully immersed in Lihle’s story, virtual reality viewers get a real sense of both the challenges young people with HIV face, but also the future they can create when they get testing and treatment.
A selection of 13 Virtual Reality films from UN Agencies and the MY World 360º young media creators showcasing the challenges of inequality and the importance of leaving no one behind will be screened at the European Development Days. The films take place around the world – in the Philippines, Albania, South Africa, Nepal, Iraq, Malawi, Nigeria, Lao PDR, Germany, USA, Brazil and Mongolia.