Field Coverage

Everyone has a role to play in advancing the new global goals for sustainable development, and innovation and entrepreneurship are central to finding the solutions needed to achieve these goals. The United Nations Foundation, along with its partners, is proud to help nurture innovation and entrepreneurship around the world.

On Sunday, September 27, immediately following the conclusion of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals Summit, the Solutions Summit will turn attention to people and organizations around the world who are already working on innovative solutions to implement the global goals. Held at UN headquarters, the Solutions Summit seeks to match innovative solutions with the strategic advice, networks, and partners they need to scale up their efforts and increase impact. You can join the summit by watching at 6pm ET on Sunday, September 27, 2015.

These new goals represent a major shift in the delivery and thinking on humanitarian assistance and development aid.  This movement spreads the responsibility to every country and becomes central to their national interest agendas. It also presents an opportunity for the development community to think and act differently.

Since the launch of the Millennium Development Goals in 2000, the world has witnessed a series of dramatic shifts that present new opportunities for radical new thinking and delivery models to achieve international goals.  The Internet was a nascent information sharing technology in 2000.  It is now a robust vertebra of an ever-expanding global economic, social, and information infrastructure.  With the Internet came revolutions in software, mobile technology, entrepreneurship, and more recently, big data.  The power to access information, learn, and take action at an individual level has never been so great.  This acceleration has ushered in an unprecedented era of innovation, first in business and now in humanitarian, and development work. Innovation is everywhere.

The UN system is innovating. For example, aid workers in the Philippines, thanks to UNICEF’s Rapid Family Tracing app, were able via mobile tracking devices to reunite families separated by a natural disaster. Syrian refugees in Jordan and Lebanon are regaining a sense of citizenship and empowerment with e-cash systems that enable them to purchase food and basic supplies from locals, thereby spurring the local economy and entrepreneurship. They are also on the verge of moving out of tents and into modular flat-packed delivered homes thanks to a partnership between the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) and IKEA. There are now over 1 million “Ureporters” participating and providing instantaneous feedback via SMS to their government representatives in Zambia, Nigeria, and Uganda.

These shifts, sometimes seemingly small, in creating and delivering new products, processes, and services have the potential for exponential development impact. The 14 innovators presenting at the Solutions Summit come from various countries including Burkina Faso, China, Nigeria, and Uganda and are a small sample of the exciting things happening in emerging economies. The Summit, designed to bridge the gap between local innovations, policymakers, investors, UN leadership, and leaders from the private sector and civil society will showcase change agents and hopefully inspire a new generation to take up the challenge of creating solutions to some of the world’s most pressing challenges.

The event will be livecast on UN TV at at 6 pm ET on Sunday, September 27. Join us on Sunday evening to check out the hottest and most socially conscious innovations from around the world!

(photo credit: UN Photo/Eskinder Debebe)