The United Nations Development Programme has launched the Accelerator Lab to help Nepal identify, test and scale innovative solutions to emerging development challenges facing the country and the world on 1 Aug 2019.

The Nepal lab will be part of a network of 60 Accelerator Labs across the world, making it world’s largest and fastest learning network around development challenges. As a knowledge hub for experimentation and scaling of innovative ideas, the lab will help countries accelerate the progress towards the Agenda 2030 and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

UNDP, currently engaged in some 170 countries and territories across the world, is mandated to support Member States in their efforts to advance the Agenda 2030 and the SDGs by providing integrated solutions to the development challenges they are confronting. The Accelerator Lab, funded by the State of Qatar and the Federal Republic of Germany, will work together with national and global partners to find radically new approaches that fit the complexity of current development challenges.

“Since long we have been speaking about skills, technical assistance, capital and investment … it was all about knowledge and about connecting countries. For over fifty years and more, UDNP has been changing and this year we changed the way we function,” said UNDP Resident Representative Ayshanie Medagangoda-Labe connecting the launch of the Lab with the ongoing reform process of UNDP. “With the reform process, we are trying our best to be relevant to the problems and risks that the world is facing today.” The Lab, she said, is one of the efforts to introduce new way of thinking in that line.

“The Lab has three services to offer: mapping exiting solutions and innovators in Nepal, experimenting with new approaches to tackle complex development issues and tapping into new sources of data and collective intelligence to accelerate progress,” said Giulio Quaggiotto, Head of UNDP's Regional Innovation Center for Asia and the Pacific based in Bangkok. Housed within UNDP, the lab will be fully equipped with needed resources and expertise to convene a wide spectrum of people locally and also to connect with the 60 other labs across the globe to foolproof solutions, draw ideas and share lessons.

The lab was launched amid a public function in Kathmandu in the presence of representatives from the Government, UN agencies, international development partners, private sector, civil society, youth, innovators and the media. Vice Chairperson of the National Planning Commission Prof. Pushpa Raj Kandel, Managing Director of Nepal Electricity Authority Kul Man Ghishing, UN Resident Coordinator Valerie Julliand, UNICEF Resident Representative Elke Wisch, Ambassadors and representatives of Germany and Bangladesh, innovation champion Mahabir Pun, acclaimed trail runner Mira Rai and several other dignitaries addressed the launching event.

Addressing the event, UN Resident Coordinator Valerie Julliand underscored on the need for accelerating our pace of development to meet the 2030 SDG targets and said the Lab could come handy in that process. Innovation champion Mahabir Pun highlighted on the need for creating an ecosystem of innovation to allow the start-ups and innovators to grow with their ideas. Sportsperson Mira Rai inspired the audience by sharing her stories of struggle and how innovation is possible where there is crisis. Managing Director of Nepal Electricity Authority Kul Man Ghising shared how he was able to solve one of the biggest problems of Nepal in the recent past – the crippling power cut – through a radical reform of the organization. Claudia Hiepe, Head of German Development Cooperation at German Embassy shared some of the innovation projects, including on IT and block-chain, supported by the German Government across different countries and expressed pleasure to support and partner with UNDP on the Lab. Ambassador of Bangladesh Mashfee Binte Shams share Bangladesh’s experience on leveraging innovation for poverty reduction, agricultural growth and overall improvement of the economy, thereby graduating from the LDC status to a medium-income country.

The launching event also featured sports events and an innovation fair, where a dozen of Nepal’s promising innovators showcased their innovation projects, including on recycling of waste plastics, use of automation and robots for social good and innovative agri technologies for farmers.

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