Design-thinking, foresight and innovation are headline acts as UNDP Asia-Pacific rolls out new plan for the Sustainable Development Goals

May 15, 2018

Four-day Bangkok workshop to co-create innovative approaches for development in the region

Tech innovations, the latest thinking in global development and United Nations Development Programme's new Strategic Plan were the order of the day, as the agency's senior leadership in Asia and the Pacific gathered in Bangkok this week to reimagine the pathways to a sustainable planet without poverty.   

A four-day event titled UNDP Strategic Plan, SDG Integration and Platform Design workshop kicked off in the Thai capital on Tuesday, featuring global thought leaders in strategic foresight, human centric design and platforms thinking, to co-design UNDP's work in a rapidly changing development context in Asia.  

"We operate in an extremely dynamic context where an accelerating pace of technological and social change affects markets, livelihoods and Governments’ capacity to deal with this change," said Valerie Cliff, Deputy Director for UNDP in Asia and the Pacific, framing the agenda in her opening remarks.   

"We face the paramount task of supporting countries to navigate this change and co-design with them the development solutions to advance the 2030 Agenda," said Ms Cliff. 

"Development solutions vary according to national and regional contexts. UNDP has the advantage of being embedded on the ground with strong local partnerships across the world, whilst also having access to global ideas, experience and knowledge," said Joseph D' Cruz Senior Advisor on Strategy and Planning, at UNDP. "Our value proposition involves connecting those two elements of our work," he said.  

"The new UN reforms agenda calls upon UNDP to play the integrator role for the Sustainable Development Goals, and one of the principal aims of this workshop will be to examine how we equip ourselves to be able to do this better – through the lens of our new Strategic Plan, and using the latest ideas reshaping development in the region," said Jaco Cilliers, Chief of Asia-Pacific policy and programmes at UNDP.     

The workshop identifies key areas for corporate and peer-to-peer support and facilitates learning from existing platform designs to demonstrate how this business model can be practically applied to solve the development challenges faced by the countries in our region.  

Kristel Van der Elst from the Geneva-based Global Foresight Group mapped the principles of Strategic Foresight and explored how they could apply to preparing for the development challenges odf the future.  

UNDP's new Strategic Plan focuses on delivering creative responses to the new and emerging needs of our Member States, sister UN agencies and other partners. 

An overarching focus for over a hundred participants at the workshop will be to co-create 'platforms' that acknowledge the inter-connectedness of the Sustainable Development Goals, and the need for an integrated approach to attaining them, from new partnerships to new ways of financing development.  

Several trends are reshaping the Asia-Pacific region, including demographic change, rural–urban transitions, increasing demand for natural resources, globalization and economic liberalization, climate change and technological progress.  

In the past five years, UNDP has rolled out a series of seed funds for countries in the region to pilot innovative approaches to development, with a series of important successes that offer insights into agile solutions for the region's challenges.  

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