UNDP Accelerator Labs in Iraq


UNDP Accelerator Labs: Re-imagining development for the 21st century

UNDP established the global Accelerator Lab network to demonstrate new ways of working in development. Globally, it is the largest and fastest learning network that links 60 labs to serve 78 countries around the world, working together to find radical solutions to today’s multitude of development challenges and respond rapidly and at scale.

UNDP Accelerator Labs in Iraq

Iraq’s Accelerator Lab journey began in 2019, with an aim to find local solutions to national development challenges. Between 2019-2020, the Lab will focus on two main challenges: Youth and Unemployment, and Climate Change. Using solutions mapping, exploring and experimenting, the Lab works to scale potential local solutions to tackle complex challenges from new and innovative angles. In parallel, the Accelerator Lab stands by to intervene and respond quickly when new emergencies arise, such as the COVID 19 pandemic.   

The Lab works alongside UNDP technical specialists to understand what is happening on the ground, and what challenges face communities on a daily basis. The team then works to identify opportunities to apply innovative local solutions, test them, and see how they can be further enhanced and embedded into UNDP, government, and local partner responses. 

The Accelerator Lab is working toward the following goals in 2020-2021:

  • Increase capability to scan, sense make, and experiment with sustainable development solutions related to youth and unemployment and climate change across Iraq;
  • Scale solutions at the national level and improve collective intelligence through policy, programming or through market growth by supporting independent ventures;
  • Establish a global learning and scaling network to surface and reinforce locally sourced solutions while mobilizing a wide and dynamic partnership of actors contributing to improved knowledge, resources, and experience.

What we have achieved

  • Developed and localized innovative global methodologies and Human-Centered Design Approaches tailored to the Accelerator Lab work in Iraq, through an experimental learning cycle which works to bridge the gap between the 21st-century challenges and the current approaches that governments, organizations, and stakeholders are practicing;
  • Explored the challenges and identified opportunities related to youth and unemployment challenges in Iraq, through continuous scanning for local solutions and building strategic partnerships that help to ground large-scale experiments;
  • Boosted government capacity to identify national development challenges and solutions.  This was achieved through hosting workshops for activists and representatives of relevant Iraqi Ministries and introducing Systemic Thinking Methodology and embedding them into new ways of thinking and in work processes; 
  • Supported the development of a local solution to address the COVID-19 pandemic in Iraq, developing and promoting an awareness platform, in partnership with several stakeholders;.
  • Established a learning network inside Iraq known as The Accelerator Lab Community Service Team. It is a team of 35 volunteers from various stakeholders, including NGOs, activists, Private Sector and career development intuitions, to ensure that identified problems and local solutions are developed in cooperation with the community and to ensure sustainability;  
  • Launched the  Tested the Lab’s first ‘local solution’ - the ‘Design Thinking Training Manual’. It was written by a a team of young volunteers from the Innovation for Development project, with the consultation and engagement of multiple stakeholders, students, teachers, entrepreneurs, government officials, and UN personnel.

Read more about the Accelerator Labs:

Learning smarter; a global hunt for solutions to 'frontier challenges'

Accelerator Labs: the challenge of engaging the mothership

What are the new skills we need in development?

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