EU/UNDP Innovation for Development Initiatives

EU/UNDP Innovation for Development Initiative positions Iraq on the Social Good Summit global map with 6 youth gatherings

Positioning Iraq on the Social Good Summit global map and promoting innovation and entrepreneurship for the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the EU/UNDP Innovation for Development Initiative under the Local Area Development Programme (LADP) organized six innovation gatherings in Baghdad, Erbil, Kirkuk, Basra and Diwaniyah over the period of 9 September to 8 October 2016.

The Social Good Summit is a two-day conference held annually during the United Nations General Assembly week in New York to examine the impact of technology and new media on social good initiatives around the world. Iraq was amongst 100 countries to participate.

European Union Ambassador to Iraq, Patrick Simonnet, said: "The EU/UNDP Innovation for Development Initiative under the Local Area Development Programme is to enhance the abilities of the youth in Iraq, and events like this gathering is giving the opportunity for Iraqi youth to be creative and keep pace with global development."

Deputy Country Director for UNDP Iraq, Sultan Hajiyev, reiterated: “Those gatherings are an important opportunity to support the efforts of the Government of Iraq to harness the potential of Youth, empower and enable them to be better prepared to contribute to their society using advanced technologies.”

Around 500 young people (16-30 years old) from all governorates, of whom 30% were females, attended the six gatherings that informed them about the Initiative, its essential concepts, social good through innovation, and the SDGs. Also highlighted were UNDP led initiatives, such as the Youth Leadership Programme (YLP II). Participants were engaged in activities to help to assess their needs in order to develop a capacity building programme tailored accordingly.

“Every single activity was enjoyable and enriching. My team and I brainstormed to find creative solutions to challenges facing our community. We also learned about the importance of innovation to make real change and achieve social good,” said Israa N. Abdullah, 24, from Erbil.

A team of 33 well-trained young volunteers is currently preparing for a training event in November 2016 that aims at developing the young participants’ ideas into projects, using Design Thinking and Lean Startup methodologies. Around 200 youth are expected to participate out of 2000 applicants.

“We are reviewing materials to develop the training agenda. Since the project adopts a youth-to-youth approach, we will provide our peers with guidance to develop their ideas,” said volunteer trainer, Alaq Khalid, 21. In turn, volunteer for documentation, Rania Sabah, 23, explained: “We are developing a plan to capture important events through photos, videos and graphic recording to reflect them on social media. This will motivate other youth to consider becoming aboard.”

“I expect to learn about arranging my priorities, and to be guided towards proper approaches to help implement my project,” said Sarah A. Hasan, 28, from Karbala.

The Innovation for Development Initiative is trying to connect participating youth with other projects and initiatives such as YLP II, and the Entrepreneurship and Leadership Youth Training Programme led by United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR) in Japan.

Participants of respective events taking place inside and outside Iraq will be encouraged to develop their prototypes and pilot projects to present them in the Second Innovation for Development Forum, expected to be held during the first quarter of 2017.

The forum will bring together the private sector, investors, donors, and governmental and non-governmental organizations, with the aim of building productive partnerships to implement those projects.

(Source: UNDP in Iraq)

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