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.
Innovation Norway is looking for bold innovation projects aiming to improve humanitarian response that saves lives, alleviates suffering and sustains people’s dignity.
UN-Habitat is calling for you to share your innovative solutions and best practices that transform waste to wealth.
Opportunity to showcase your innovation for health in a #HealthInnovationExchange to leaders, implementers, innovators and investors in Africa.
ITC’s Refugee Employment & Skills Initiative has been working in two major refugee complexes in Kenya to enable refugees and host communities to tap into international markets for home décor goods and freelance digital services. Together with the Norwegian Refugee Council and other partners, ITC offered skills training combined with support for business development and connecting to markets.
In Dadaab, home to close to a quarter-million refugees from Somalia, the initiative kicked off in May with a digital training and mentorship programme. Over five months, Samasource Digital Basics, the Nairobi office of a San Francisco-based non-profit that teaches digital skills to people without traditional paths to employment, trained about 100 participants in internet research, word processing, translation and spreadsheet capabilities. It also coached them on how best to present themselves to potential employers on freelancing platforms.
Samasource and ITC provided follow-up support and professional skills mentorship.
In an emergency, every second counts. For governments and humanitarian organizations such as WFP, understanding the effects of a disaster will help everyone to launch a faster, more effective response to reach those in need. Working with the Government of Cambodia’s National Committee for Disaster Management, the World Food Programme launched the Platforms for Real-time Information SysteMs (PRISM) initiative in 2015. PRISM is a hub of information on Cambodia, using an interactive online map to pool data from government ministries and vulnerable people.
This offers the Government and the humanitarian community a single source of information. The Government then has the data it needs to lead in a coordinated approach with UN partners, NGOs and others to prepare and respond in the event of a disaster.
It is rainy season in Northern Uganda. In the rural areas of Adjumani District the maize crops are at full height but are not ready for harvesting yet. This is still a few weeks off. Simon Peter Mwesigye who works with UN-Habitat and The Global Land Tool Network (GLTN), is standing on the edge of a small maize patch with Ochen Ronald from the Adjumani District land office. The two of them are staring intently at a handheld mapping device. They take the measurements and move carefully to the next boundary position. This is part of spatial data collection training GLTN is doing with the District Land Office and Area Land Committee.
With participatory approaches, GLTN introduced the use and application of low-cost geo-spatial technologies and tools. It has revolutionised access to land mapping and enumeration services in three pilot areas in Uganda. In the past it cost upwards of USD $600 to have one plot accurately mapped and land rights registered. These innovative approaches and tools bring the process cost down to between USD $20 to $40. This is a significant price drop in a country where so little of the land has been formally mapped and registered.
More than 200 million women in developing countries want to avoid, delay, or space their pregnancies, yet are not using an effective contraceptive method. So how can we uphold this right, and protect the health and futures of women, adolescent girls, and their families through innovation?
The Innovation Fund at UNFPA, the United Nations Population Fund, in collaboration with the World Food Programme’s Innovation Accelerator, is inviting innovators who can help address the challenge to End Unmet Need for Family Planning. Eight carefully selected teams will join us from 22 to 26 July in Munich, Germany, for a high-intensity Innovation Bootcamp. These teams will design, prototype and test bold solutions to help accelerate universal access to sexual and reproductive health and rights. Their innovations aim to ensure that no one is left behind, expand access in remote geographies, close the last mile for reproductive health commodities, and leverage low or high-tech possibilities that put rights and choices at the centre of decision-making and service delivery.
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.