UNDP in Montenegro: Knowledge and Innovation

May 30, 2014

UNDP Montenegro Cuntry Office: Knowledge and Innovation
Milica Begović, Team Leader Economy and Environment/Knowledge and Innovation Specialist
16 May 2013

UNDP Montenegro Country Office is one of the 3 pilot COs for Knowledge and Innovation in the RBEC region this year.  BRC support within this context significantly helped reinforce and strengthen in-house knowledge and interest in this area and I've had a good luck and a privilege to lead this work in our country office.  

As a result, UNDP Montenegro CO has an established knowledge and innovation service line it provides to its partners- the Government, NGO sector, private sector and the citizens.  This service lines has four components:

I.    Community engagement
    How can new technologies, social media and latest advances in science and research increase     citizens’ influence on policy development, lead to more open formulation of policies, monitoring     and feedback on service delivery and development priorities.

    Examples of CO work:
•    We’ve launched innovation challenge for applying network theory to growing business clusters in the northern region by connecting them to those in more developed regions (blog about it here and some early lessons learned after we selected the winners).   
•    Facilitating citizen-led design of quick solutions (prototypes) to various issues they deem important in their community: crowdsourcing critical waste locations (Facebook site built as a result), addressing transparency in public sector employment decisions (Google moderator as a venue for airing), using Foursquare to mark dangerous routes for cyclists (ongoing).
•    We use social media in real time during major events that CO is organizing in order to give voice to those who are not in the room (citizens): Montenegro’s Rio+ preparatory meeting, meeting of Regional Government Communication Officers, and Open Government Partnership  
•    Inforgraphics for: (i) engage citizens in testing out our energy efficiency-based formalization program, (ii) turning thousands of pages for public consultations on Regional Parks into easily digestible form (ongoing); (iii) turning Integrated UN program into various inforgraphics for different audiences (citizens, donors)- ongoing and communicating the results of national anti-corruption policy; (iv) status of gender violence in Montenegro.
•    We’re working on visualizing central budget and reflecting various correlations between expenditures and revenues in a way that will enable citizens better insight into financial planning of the State  
•    We are working with Agency for Environmental Protection and NGO partners on prototyping two different technologies for real-time monitoring of air-quality and noise management.  #ICT4env international conference was organized on this topic, with attendance of EU Agency for Environmental protection (first opportunity for digital and environmental communities to come together).
•    Open Ideas: crowdsourcing citizens’ perception of local level problems, in order to build on a portfolio of issues.  The CO organized a challenge-prize that attracted some 10 teams, out of which a winning one was selected and will be supported throughout the year- Be Responsible (citizen monitoring/crowdsourcing).
•    In using new technologies for post 2015 consultations, Montenegro succeeded in getting over 8,000 people to directly contribute: 1/3% of national population equal to 2% of global population.

II.    Service delivery
    How can new technologies, social media and latest advances in science and research improve     delivery of public services either through more targeted information, incorporation of user-    perspective in delivery (avoiding exclusion by design).

    Examples of CO work:
•    The CO established a forum/an intranet of a kind for local finance officers to discuss ongoing issues, trouble shoot and exchange ideas for a better service delivery  
•    Foursquare for Development: community led design of new tourism products and services, offered via geo-locations services. This prototype has been so successful that UNDP was invited to speak at the largest internet conference in the region (live streaming of the presentation available here).   UNDP Kyrgyz office will pursue the same approach in starting their community-based tourism development program.  
•    Open government: in cooperation with the Ministry of Finance, UNDP is working on opening up the central budget to the citizen for easier monitoring of public expenditure, engagement with data on revenues and expenditures across various sectors and department.
•    Micro-narratives for real-time monitoring of change:  using cutting edge methodology for real time monitoring of impact on the ground and understanding: (i) what factors facilitate and hinder citizen involvement in local decision making, and (ii) what is the source of resentment in local communities who live in protected areas.

III.    Leveraging best international knowledge for development
    How can new technologies, social media and latest advances in science and research help     connect partners to and partner with the best international expertise for solving Montenegro’s  development problems.

    Examples of CO work:
•    The CO has extensively used blogging and tweeting in an effort to: (i) engage with global leaders in various fields in order to leverage their expertise for Montenegro, (ii) raise profile of our work and our practitioners, (iii) conduct research  
•    The CO has started using real-simple reporting   (Beautiful Cetinje project, Protected area projects)
•    The CO is working with national universities where appropriate (real-time monitoring of air quality, protected area management, Open Government Partnership)    
•    The CO organized a Regional Conference for Government spokespersons and communications persons last year for the first time in the region, which will continue as an annual event addressing the topic of citizens-government communication and engagement.   
•    The MIT’s ClimateCoLab invited the CO to nominate its work on energy efficiency-based formalization, first such solution globally for illegal settlements to its global competition on addressing climate change.  

IV.    Skill development (internally and externally)

    Building skills of our staff and our partners in order to make best use of new technologies and     social media in above mentioned categories
    Examples of CO work:
•    Two colleagues from the Prime Minister’s office received a week’s long training with Knowledge and Innovation Team at the BRC
•    This year alone, our staff will engage in some 10 months of detail assignments, and participated in webinars for the region on various topics the CO has engaged in
•    Increasingly, colleagues are turning to blogging and tweeting about their work, which reinforces the ‘leveraging best expertise’ point from above and profile of our practitioners and UNDP work in the country
•    UNDP Montenegro held a number of webinars about development and running of its K&I service line including to UNDP CO Egypt, UNDP CO Bosnia and Hercegovina, and a webinar specifically organized for RBEC COs.

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