Qatar is one of the two launch partners of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) initiative ‘Accelerator Labs', 60 in total, set up early this year in as many developing countries around the globe.
"Qatar has contributed $20mn for the project. Germany is the other launch partner," Jennifer Colville, innovation team leader at the UNDP Regional Hub for Arab States, told Gulf Times.
“We are launching the fastest and largest network for social impact.These labs will be focusing on youth employment, service management, women’s empowerment, among others, according to the requirements of each country,”she explained.
“ It is a signature partnership we have with Qatar through Qatar Development Fund. Qatar is an important partner for UNDP not only in the Arab region but globally. We have many partnerships with Qatar,” noted the official.
Colville was in Qatar recently to take part in a workshop organised by Qatar Centre for Artificial Intelligence, under Qatar Computing Research Institute (QCRI), part of Hamad Bin Khalifa University.
“A total of 10 of these labs will be in the Arab states. We have 17 programme countries and territories in the Arab region. We are hiring about 180 new staff who are basically social innovators. They all will be on board by April and we expect to have our first experimentation by mid-2019,” continued Colville.
“The network of accelerator labs will change the way development is carried out. These labs will help our partners and UNDP to carry out development in new ways by introducing new tools, new approaches and new ways of understanding problems and defining them. This will also help us in identifying problems and finding solutions for them. We are hoping that this will make great impacts in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals of the UN,” she explained.
According to the official, there is a long standing relationship between QCRI and UNDP. “QCRI helps us in accessing data, developing data and developing tools to find insights in a number of areas in our programme countries,” she pointed out.
The Accelerator Labs will become integral to UNDP’s existing country-based teams and infrastructure and will enable UNDP to connect its global network and development expertise spanning 170 countries, with a more agile, innovation capacity to support countries in their national development priorities.
“It will be for each country to decide on the focus of their activities through the labs. We hope that it would promote economic development. It will also look into social aspects such as inequality and environment sustainability,” added Colville.