Social Innovation Platforms in Eurasia (4 countries) for Urban Transformation | UNDP — Istanbul Regional Hub — City Experiment Fund Program

Practice Lab

UNDP’s goal in Europe and Central Asia is to help eradicate poverty in all its forms, accelerate the transition to sustainable development, and make sure countries and people are able to withstand crises and shocks. The overarching objective of this new regional programme is to help accelerate the implementation and achievement of the 2030 Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). 

UNDP in cooperation with strategic actors worldwide is operating in many countries in the Western Balkans, South Caucasus and Central Asia, where multiple development challenges must be faced.

To that end, The City Experiment Fund was launched as part of the Transformative Governance and Finance Facility II, which is funded by the Slovak Ministry of Finance. This project seeks to make sense of and address complex issues playing out in cities –including the impact of migration, climate change and inequality– by testing out emerging technologies, financial mechanisms and innovative approaches in cities across the above-mentioned regions. 

“Cities generate more than 80% of the global GDP and consume nearly two-thirds of the world’s energy. They also account for more than 70% of global greenhouse gas emissions. Often the challenges that cities face are interconnected and require an interdisciplinary approach, going beyond sector-specific or technical solutions”.

UNDP Europe and Central Asia

UNDP has realized that “whether they work on air pollution, access to economic opportunities or effective public transportation, they always find that these aspects of urban living spill over to other areas that impact quality of life in a city”. 

Despite the complex and interconnected nature of the SDGs, most of the current global development initiatives addressing complex issues (like the ones mentioned) are still designed as projects to address specific issues linearly. The way in which linear projects are currently managed, funded and evaluated limit organizations’ possibilities of being able to invest more resources in better understanding community perceptions, prototyping new interconnected solutions, making mistakes and being able to adapt work plans in real time if alternative solutions are generated during the implementation process.

Social Innovation Platforms, alternatively, seek to interconnect organizations and actions around shared objectives, methodologies and evaluation systems, in order to bring about systemic impact. Although a platform approach requires increased effort in the design phase and new tools for building a collective vision, it will ultimately contribute to align disconnected initiatives and to enhance their impact, cohesion and visibility.

Hence, ALCK offers a collaborative support system for country offices to co-design, implement and evaluate Social Innovation Platforms for systemic transformation with UNDP and the Ministry of Villages. With this approach, we seek to break with the traditional division between analysis and action, incorporating a permanent listening system that generates real-time information on the perceptions of the territory and how it responds to the development of ongoing initiatives.

We work from a deep immersion and listening process in each community (including citizens and everyday people, public sector, private sector, academia, civil society organizations and every relevant actor in each context at the same level and in the same spaces), in its values and behaviours as the only way to achieve better and more effective solutions, designing collaboratively, relying on the intelligence of each territory and acting in a global and sustained manner. Based on this approach, we work on a city level to develop a portfolio of interconnected solutions at 5 levels of impact –(1) Community actions, (2) Small and mid scale initiatives, (3) Large scale initiatives, (4) New public services and (5) New regulation mechanisms– aimed at addressing various aspects of an urban challenge.

Currently, ALCin collaboration with UNDP and other key partners, is developing Social Innovation Platforms in Skopje (North Macedonia), in Stepanavan (Armenia), in Pjlevjla (Montenegro) and in Prizren (Kosovo).

Sectors: Just Transitions / Climate Emergency / Urban Transformation

Location: North Macedonia, Armenia, Montenegro and Kosovo

Year 2021