Voices from Eurasia

Development Effectiveness

Can blockchain help us better assist refugees and migrants in transit?

03 Nov 2017 by Kristina Mikulova, Advisor at the Board of the World Bank. 

Technology can both empower and disempower. At a recent workshop on blockchain, we landed a challenge: how can we use it to facilitate refugee integration? I am an immediate misfit in the dynamic multiverse of people speaking in code. But at this USAID event led by the UNDP Alternative Finance Lab and AID:Tech, I wasn’t the only one. My team, half tree-huggers and half tech gurus, started our brainstorming with this question: what do we have in common? The answer was a strong sense of identity. That fragile sense of self, inflated when our boss pats us on the back and shattered when somebody “swipes left”. … Read more

Rethinking road safety – investing to save people’s lives

10 Oct 2017 by Irena Jokić, Programme Associate, UNDP Montenegro

traffic accidentMontenegro is one of the countries with the highest number of persons killed in traffic accidents in Europe. Photo: UNDP Montenegro
Every few months, I go to pay condolences to families who lost their loved ones in traffic accidents or visit an acquaintance in hospital due to an injury they suffered in a car crash. I am pretty sure I am not alone in that. Montenegro is one of the countries with the highest number of persons killed in traffic accidents in Europe. In 2016 alone, there were more than 5,200 traffic accidents, with 65 persons killed and another 2,500 lightly or seriously injured. Although we all hate putting a price tag on a human life, the economic case for preventing accidents is just as important as the moral one. Studies show that every human life lost in a traffic accident costs our country about half a million EUR. … Read more

From labs to movements? An invitation to join our conversation on re-imagining labs

15 Sep 2017

In the run-up to UNDP and Nesta’s two-day conference Istanbul Innovation Days (Oct 31-Nov 1), we wanted to take stock and critically reflect on current lab practice and the impact labs create, and to consider what future directions might look like. We reflected with a small group of expert lab practitioners — from public innovation and development labs — on current lab practice, and in this blog we share our reflections, identify a number of needs, and suggest what actions could be taken. We invite you to read it and to join in the conversation on the future of lab practice. … Read more

Are young women a key to the growth of Uzbekistan’s ICT industry?

25 Aug 2017 by Anvar Meliboev, Partnerships and Communications Specialist, UNDP Uzbekistan

Young women participants at the Technovation Challenge. Photo: UNDP Uzbekistan
Do you know who Margaret Hamilton is? Not many do. She was the computer scientist and systems engineer who programmed the Apollo 11 spaceflight. There is currently a greatly untapped resource of women programmers, who are essential to the understaffed global ICT industry (an estimated 800,000 extra professionals will be needed in Europe by 2020). But women programmers, especially those in management roles, make up a small minority of the world’s IT professionals. The landscape for women programmers is not much different here in Uzbekistan. The share of women in technical universities is only 16-22 percent of the total number of students. … Read more

“From Russia to Tajikistan”: changing the way money moves

25 Jul 2017 by Marina Petrovic, George Harrap and Jamshed Kardikulov

Relative to GDP, remittances flowing into Tajikistan are among the largest in the world. Photo: Mashid Mohadjerin
Citizens of Tajikistan rely heavily on remittances. A lack of job opportunities means that up to 1 million (out of a population of 8 billion) migrate elsewhere for work, mostly Russia. Until 2014, the share of remittances made up around 43 percent of the national GDP, roughly US$4 billion a year. The global recession and the depreciation of the Russian and Tajik currencies against the US dollar has since caused a sharp decline in remittances. But its share is still significant at 20-25 percent, as labor migration continues to be attractive. … Read more

Crowdfunding for small businesses: what’s the story?

21 Jul 2017 by Robert Pašičko, Marina Petrović and Milica Begović, UNDP Alternative Finance Lab

We selected 12 entrepreneurs and helped turn their vision into a crowdfunding campaign. Photo: UNDP
Our experience taught us that crowdfunding is not just a new funding method. It’s also a tool to engage communities; a powerful outreach and advocacy mechanism; and a way to create new business models and use new technologies for tackling social problems. Can it be applied for funding small and medium enterprises (SME)? Donating money can help buy a blanket for one person in need. But crowdfunding a small business can help it to produce affordable blankets for hundreds of people in need. This can contribute to building a whole ecosystem of supporters and ambassadors, serving as a powerful leapfrog. This year, we’re trying to see whether crowdfunding can help small entrepreneurs access funding where mainstream banking is prohibitively expensive. We started with Ukraine. Our recovery programmes there have one challenging task: to inspire people from war-affected areas, many of whom worked all their life in mines and factories, to become entrepreneurs. … Read more

Designing a city for people, not cars

20 Jul 2017 by Lasha Nakashidze, Green Cities Project Manager, UNDP Georgia

Waterfront park in Batumi. Photo: Vladimer Valishvili / UNDP Georgia
When I walk to the office, I think about cities having their own personalities. I see Batumi as male, smart, well-groomed, and laid-back as if the salt and holiday spirit of the Black Sea have sunk into his system. He appreciates the fusion of the jumble in the old city, the scent of magnolia and coffee around the small cafes, and the sparkling new buildings along the boulevard. He enjoys the buzz of tourists heading to the beach and bicycles riding along the sea-side promenade. But when I turn away from the seaside towards the busy streets, I see the other side of this laid-back man. The mood of the city changes, becomes tense and anxious. The streets look grey and are full of cars and eccentric drivers. Batumi has grown dramatically in recent years, from a relatively small city of 18 km2 in 1990 into a 65 km2 urban conglomerate. It is not only a leading sea resort of Georgia, but plays a critical role in the national economy as a sea and land gate for the country. … Read more

What data innovation can tell you about a city

18 Jul 2017 by David Svab, Sustainable Development Programme Analyst, UNDP Kosovo*

Cities worldwide are increasingly using big data to identify trends before making decisions about services or infrastructure. Data innovation is becoming core to making cities smart and sustainable. Seoul follows its residents’ mobility patterns to optimize its public transportation, the Sudanese look at electricity at night as proxy metrics of poverty, and the City of Angels has a big data-driven approach to reducing cycling accidents on its roads. We’re riding a similar wave in Kosovo*. With the Emergency Management Agency, UNDP Innovation Facility, UN Global Pulse, UN Kosovo Team, and Open Data Kosovo, we looked at how we can use big data to improve public services. Our test focused on one particular theme: Can we use anonymous emergency call records to the 112 service as a way to improve emergency response in Kosovo? First, we ran an algorithm to find out initial patterns and timelines of emergency calls made in Prishtina. Then, we mapped the calls geographically with the help of Kosovars on a crowdsourcing platform we developed. … Read more

What kind of blender do we need to finance the SDGs?

12 Jul 2017 by Mara Niculescu, Partnership Development Analyst, UNDP Europe and Central Asia

The United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) says achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) will take between US$5 to 7 trillion, with an investment gap in developing countries of about US$2.5 trillion. At the same time, the most recent OECD DAC report shows that in 2016 the total official development assistance reached a peak of US$142.6 billion, which is one order of magnitude smaller than the needs. … Read more

Companies are producing more responsibly, more sustainably

11 Jul 2017 by Paula Pelaez, Programme Manager, Business Call to Action

MUJI is sourcing wool and wool products from Kyrgyzstan. Photo: MUJI
The world is a riskier place to operate in. Populations are growing and feeding people is becoming trickier. Climate change is challenging our security and ability to make a living. Global markets have become more unstable. For companies, these global trends present both risks and opportunities, requiring them to rethink how to source and produce in a sustainable way. At the Business Call to Action, we work with companies who are applying sustainable principles in their daily operations. What have we learned from them? … Read more

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