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Innovation
for development

Human-Centered Design

Human-centered design is a creative approach to problem solving that starts with the needs of the user, emphasizes the importance of diverse perspectives and encourages solution-seeking among multiple actors. It consists of five phases: Empathize, Define, Ideate, Prototype and Test. What differentiates human-centered design from other problem-solving approaches is its focus on understanding the perspective of the person who experiences a problem most acutely. Whether for the design of products, services or experiences, it is useful in getting to solutions that can have sustainable impact.

Youth Leadership Programme (2015-2019)In response to growing need for alternative paths to action and social change, UNDP launched its regional Youth Leadership Programme (YLP) in 2015. YLP aims to build a generation of young leaders, innovators, and change-makers in the Arab region. In its first year, YLP1 brought together 40 young women and men from 18 Arab countries to nurture their creativity, strengthen their leadership skills, and help them realize their ideas to improve their communities (Jordan, September 2015). In its second year, under the theme “Innovation for Sustainable Development,” YLP2 supported more than 700 youth through national activities and culminated in a regional event for 70 youth (Kuwait, December 2016). In its third year, YLP3, with the theme “Accelerating Innovation for Sustainable Development,” supported more than 2,000 youth through national activities and culminated in a regional event for 100 youth (Egypt, December 2017).

YLP4, with the theme “Innovating for Sustainable Impact,” expanded the reach and impact of YLP3 by targeting 14 countries across the Arab Region. YLP4 engaged 5,000 youth in national activities across the region and partnered with national organizations that work towards youth empowerment and fulfillment of Sustainable Development Goals. In January 2018, twelve YLP change-makers from across all three years took part in the ECOSOC Youth Forum in New York, where they presented the projects they developed during YLP and shared their vision for how youth can contribute to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). YLP5, with the theme “Explore, Experiment, Expand,” is designed to build on lessons learnt during the previous four years and scale up its reach by exploring innovative approaches to addressing sustainable development challenges, experimenting with potential solutions, and expanding youth knowledge and networks. Considering the importance of supporting young people’s role in the realization of SDG16 in Arab States, YLP5 emphasises civic engagement and political participation.

Hacking the Project Cycle for Impact in Arab States & Africa (2017)
The regional innovation team leads in Arab States and Africa hosted a three-day Hackers Workshop for colleagues from 20 countries across the two regions to familiarise them with UNDP’s Project Cycle Hackers Kit and encourage them to adopt a hacker mentality as they design and implement their programmes and projects. During the workshop, participants had the opportunity to familiarize themselves with all the tools in the Hackers Kit. Then, they spent time “deep diving” into the handful of tools that they felt could most effectively support their work. Colleagues from five offices in the region participated in the workshop, bringing with them an array of projects and ideas about which Hackers Kit tools to use. For example, the team in Somalia was interested in using tools to design and implement a social innovation initiative to empower Internally Displaced People in co-creating solutions for challenges they face in their communities, particularly the “test your assumptions” and “plan your prototype” tools. The team in Egypt wanted to use the “scaling pathways” tool to identify ways of scaling up the Social Innovation Hubs they launched in partnership with Microsoft and the National Council for Women. By hacking the project cycle, regardless of which stage a project is in, it is hoped that colleagues and national partners can develop projects or initiatives that are more informed and reflective of target citizens’ needs, that can be delivered via stronger partnerships, and that result in more sustainable and sustained impact.

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