The Colour of Innovation is a podcast on innovation brought to you by the United Nations Development Programme. Innovation for development is about disrupting the way things work, or don’t… and using creative approaches for solving difficult problems that people experience every day.

With this podcast, UNDP brings to you stories of innovation from across the Arab States. In each episode, we introduce social innovators, sharing their inspirations and their ideas, their passions and their projects for changing the world. In each episode, we will focus on a specific innovation methodology that UNDP Country Offices and their partners use in “doing development differently,” including behavioral insights, design thinking, social innovation camps, green technology, and civic technology.

Why the title, Colour of Innovation? We feel it causes the brain to reflect, reframe, and rev up, just like innovation itself.  First, by stopping to question this unlikely concept: innovation has a colour?  Second, by re-orienting around a new way of thinking: yes, of course, innovation has a colour, for example, blue, as in blue sky thinking; green, as in all things new; white, as in a blank slate. And finally, by getting excited about the possibility of doing development differently

With this podcast, we hope to demystify innovation; to demonstrate its flexibility, by showing how it can be interpreted in so many different ways; and to display its power to engage, connect, and think differently. We hope to provide encouragement for newcomers to come on board, to promote experimentation with new approaches, and leave us all feeling just a little bit more hopeful for our collective future. 

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Whatsapp for What’s Down

This is a story of how UNDP Lebanon is using WhatsApp, one of the world’s most popular messaging applications, to help people speak their minds and shape their own narratives. In using WhatsApp, UNDP Lebanon created a mechanism to capture individual stories and gain deeper insights into daily frustrations and tensions among Syrian refugees and host communities in Lebanon.

Farming the Sun

In this episode, we explore two stories of green innovation, from Jerusalem and Khartoum, where solar energy is harnessed to create innovative solutions to sustainable development challenges. Learn how one participant in the UNDP’s regional Youth Leadership Programme is using e solar energy to recycle food waste into new products and organic fertilizers, and how another is helping communities living off-grid by turning left-over solar cells into panels for mobile phones and other technical appliances.

Dangerous Waters

How can design thinking help address what the UN has called the worst cholera outbreak in recorded history? In Yemen, a country where two thirds of the population do not have access to clean water, the UNDP Country Office supported local innovators through UNDP’s regional Youth Leadership Programme to address this challenge. By using a design thinking approach, the needs and concerns of users were put front and center throughout. The research and development process proceeded by trial and error, and ultimately led to the development of an affordable water filter for all.

Design for Inclusive Living

How can social innovation camps give people with disabilities an opportunity to solve their own problems? Bringing together people with diverse backgrounds, experiences and skills, UNDP Egypt hosted a series of social innovation camps, called “Design for Inclusive Living,” that created a space for creativity and collaboration among people with disabilities, designers, tech experts, and investors. In this episode, we explore how this approach can lead to more creative ideas and stronger solutions that are ready for investment and scaling.

A Nudge in the Right Direction

Small steps in the right direction. In this episode, we cover behavioral insights and how UNDP Yemen is implementing this methodology in the context of their programming to Prevent Violent Extremism. We dive in to stories of how UNDP Yemen, together with Nudge Lebanon, employed “nudges” to increase participation in workshops designed to overcome trauma and manage conflict.

Gender Justice Podcast

In this episode we dive into the challenges of gender equality and gender justice in the Arab States. We speak with Asma Khader, one of the first female lawyers in Jordan and founder of Sisterhood Is Global Institute (SIGI), who has had a long career in promoting women’s rights in Jordan and across the region. We also talk to Marta Vallejo, Rule of Law, Justice and Human Rights Specialist at UNDP’s Regional Hub in Amman, about UNDP’s recent Gender Justice and the Law study and an innovation workshop exploring how to best translate the study's findings into change.

Unlocking Urban Mobility in Lebanon

In this episode we look at the state of the transport sector in Lebanon and speak with the people looking to introduce sustainable means of transportation and transform the sector. We begin with a journey through the streets of Beirut with our Country Correspondent Hussein Ghandour and learn about the everyday urban mobility challenges facing people. We then talk with Prof. Marc Haddad from the Lebanese American University about the root causes of the problems within the sector and the role of civil society in pushing for more sustainable modes of transport. And finally with Jihan Seoud from UNDP Lebanon we discuss how UNDP can take a stronger role in supporting a more sustainable culture of transport in Lebanon and what their new Accelerator Lab can do to facilitate new and innovative solutions.

Innovation for Accessibility in Egypt

This episode looks at challenges that persons with disabilities in Egypt face on a day-to-day basis and talks with some young entrepreneurs working with people with disabilities to create innovative solutions to these challenges. We begin with a story by our Country Correspondent Wasim Abuzaid who interviews Mohammed Nasser about his experiences of being a blind student in Cairo. We talk to two social entrepreneurs, Khaled Eyada and Anwar Aly, about how they have worked with people with disabilities to understand their needs and to design solutions that begin to address them. And finally we talk with UNDP Egypt’s Innovation Lab Coordinator Farida Matta about how UNDP is creating a space for innovation and co-creation among entrepreneurs and end users.

New Forms of Civic Engagement in Tunisia

In this episode we take a look at how the civil society landscape in Tunisia has transformed since the 2011 Revolution and how participatory democracy is taking root on both the local and national levels as part of the transitional process and democratization of the country. We begin with voices of the Tunisian youth who are increasingly taking a larger role in their communities and demanding for new avenues of participation for their fellow citizens. We then speak with Kouraich Jauahdou, founder of Associative Action, about introducing participatory mechanisms to increase citizen participation in municipalities across the country. Finally, Eduardo Lopez-Mancizidor from UNDP Tunisia talks about how UNDP has been supporting civil society to strengthen its foothold within the political landscape and their recent work to consolidate the new democracy.

Empowering Young Entrepreneurs in Iraq

Youth employment is a growing challenge in the Arab States, a region where over 60 percent of the population are currently under the age of 30 and of whom one third are currently without a job. In this episode we go to Iraq and take a look at UNDP’s work in fostering innovation and entrepreneurship among young people through the Innovation 4 Development programme (#Inno4Dev). We begin with Ranya Bakr, a former participant of #Inno4Dev, who takes us through the Design Thinking process, one of the key methodologies used in the programme. We then talk to Salih Mahmoud who, after participating in #Inno4Dev, decided to set up Mosul Space to share the lessons learned and support others in making their ideas a reality. Finally together with Dhafer Hasan from UNDP Iraq, we take a closer look at the #Inno4Dev programme, how it works, and what the future of the programme holds.

Fake News and Artificial Intelligence in Sudan

In this show we cover stories of innovation from across the Arab States. In each episode we examine some of the most pressing development challenges in the region, through stories from people on the ground, social innovators, experts and our colleagues exploring new solutions. In this episode we discuss how new technologies including Artificial Intelligence tools can be harnessed to counter false or mis-information and how they can be applied in a development context. We begin with the voice of a Sudanese activist about how young people in Sudan depend on social media for their daily news and how this combination allows for the spread of misinformation. We speak with Dr. Preslav Nakov from the Qatar Computing Research Institute about how fake news spreads and how this can be countered with artificial intelligence and machine learning. Finally we return to Sudan where we talk with Ali Muntasir from UNDP Sudan about how false narratives help extremist organizations recruit and how these narratives might be reversed in order to prevent violent extremism

A Digital Revival for the Palestinian Economy

In this last episode of Season 2, we look at how a new generation of Palestinian professionals are making the most of opportunities in the digital economy. Recorded prior to the Covid-19 pandemic, the topic of how remote, online work can alleviate the massive youth unemployment challenge facing the Arab region is more pertinent than ever. As the technical lead for the socio-economic response to Covid-19 in the UN system, UNDP and its country offices worldwide are mobilising to address the impacts of the pandemic on economies and communities. In Palestine, the UNDP Accelerator Lab has been busy supporting micro- and small- and medium-sized enterprises while exploring transformative pathways to inclusive economic development. We talk to Musheera Jais, who is freelancing as a voice-over artist from the Gaza Strip, about her experiences and what new opportunities e-work has provided. We then discuss the digital landscape in Palestine with one of its pioneers, Laith Kassis, who tells us about some of the emerging technologies that hold most promise of dignified employment. Finally, we speak with the UNDP Deputy Special Representative in Palestine, Geoffrey Prewitt, about how UNDP can best support the tech sector and provide a way for regional economies to link to the Palestinian talent pool.

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