UNDP, city of Seoul announce new innovation partnership to tackle challenges of Asia’s rapidly growing cities

Jun 9, 2016

Introducing the City-I-LEAPS at the International Forum on Urban Policy in Seoul. June, 2016.

Seoul | A new partnership that taps into innovative approaches by the city of Seoul to tackle urbanization’s toughest challenges, and the UN Development Programme’s  experience in local governance and innovation, was announced today in Seoul.
The partnership emphasizes citizens’ engagement that has led to dramatic improvements in the delivery of public services in Seoul, coupled with UNDP’s expertise, will engage and support cities and local governments in Asia and Pacific, to seek innovative solutions to problems of rapid urbanization.

The initiative, known as the City-I-LEAPS will facilitate City Innovation through Learning, Exchanging, Adapting, Prototyping and Scaling will go beyond the traditional transfer of knowledge by helping cities use design thinking, and concepts such as reverse engineering to design, adapt, and prototype services specific for the public sector.

Between 1980 and 2010, Asia-Pacific’s cities grew by one billion people. The urban population in the region is expected to reach 3.2 billion by 2050. By 2018, more than half of Asia-Pacific’s population is expected to live in urban areas, making it the biggest challenge facing the region’s governments and cities, a UN study concluded in 2015.

The twin trends of rapid urbanization and climate change present multi-dimensional challenges in Asia, and cities will have a central role in addressing these challenges and in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.

“Our City-I-Leaps programme addresses gaps in knowledge exchange between cities. It provides an opportunity for cities to learn from each other, rethink local governance mechanisms, and create a new norm to design and adapt next generation solutions that are innovative and citizen responsive” said Caitlin Wiesen-Antin, UNDP’s Chief of Regional Policy and Programme Support for Asia and the Pacific.

Speaking at the launch of the initiative Won-soon Park, Mayor of 
the Seoul Metropolitan Government said: “Over the past decade, Seoul has emerged at the forefront of social innovation in urban governance.”

“From creating night owl bus lines by analying big data from IT companies to holing the Idea Expo where citizens freely present ideas and discuss them with public officials, we want to share our experiences to benefit others, just as we want to learn from them,” Mr Park added.

In signing the Seoul Communique, the two partner agencies agreed that the City-I-LEAPS Initiative will seek to:

- Promote city-innovation through integrated programmes related to  local governance, urbanization and innovation organized by the UNDP and the SMG

- Invite cities in the region to join the collaborative Network and support them to exchange, design and adapt experience, know-how and practice, focusing on social innovation approaches and use of new technologies.

- Establish  collaboration around the design and adaptation of innovations in cities to improve  the quality of public services and transform municipal governance systems

- Explore new knowledge exchange modalities that underpin the principles of innovation in how cities “re-engineer” innovative solutions through user centred design thinking and systems thinking

- Provide assistance in improving availability and use of data, including alternative sources of data, on public services at municipal level to promote bottom-up and citizen-led design.

- Monitor the transfer of innovations on the ground and ensure scalability with the adoptive partner governments

Through the City-I-LEAPS, the UNDP and the SMG will highlight model cases in the region in not only promoting citizen-centric innovations but also in utilizing citizens as assets for developing innovative practices.


Contact information

For UNDP Asia Pacific:

Ramya Gopalan
Lead, Knowledge and Innovation

Patrick Duong
Regional Governance Programme Adviser

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