Innovations support

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The portfolio of projects supported by the Slovak Ministry of Finance also contains the Slovak Transformation Fund, a project serving as a catalyst regionally to create local level urban transformation models, supporting ecosystems of innovators and identifying pathways for leveraging innovative financial mechanisms. Its predecessor, Transformative Governance and Finance Facility, was introduced in 2015 and has engaged UNDP Country Offices and governments in the region in experimentation, sensemaking and knowledge sharing. It has piloted and implemented new projects, initiatives and ideas, inter alia:

  • BOOST Impact Accelerator – an online acceleration program that amplifies, bridges and connects innovators across the region,
  • City Experiment Fund – a fund that accelerates urban system transformation through deployment of a portfolio approach at the city level (read a blog),
  • Ministry of Data – an open data challenge in the Western Balkans and Black Sea regions which offers a platform for citizens to present creative data-driven tools and solutions to community issues,
  • Alternative Finance Lab – a mechanism for exploring and tapping into new financial technologies and mechanisms to leverage investments for the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals.

ThCity Experiment Fund, which seeks innovative solutions for cities and municipalities, has partnered with the Resource Mobilization Facility, which finances pre-investor studies, to design a token system in one or few cities which participates on City Experimental Fund project (CEF), in the context of promoting eco-conscious conduct in urban environments. Both CEF and RMF are two Slovak Ministry of Finance initiatives within the framework of partnership with UNDP.

About the project

The cities of Skopje, Pristina, Podgorica and others in the region face significant environmental challenges, including those related to waste management, energy consumption, and overall sustainable urban living. The project Green Tokens emerges as one of the responses to those challenges, introducing an innovative reward-based token system to incentivize eco-conscious behavior among residents and businesses.

In the context of promoting eco-conscious conduct in urban environment, the project will develop a tailored made urban token system for above mentioned cities. These systems will be implemented in partnership with a municipalities as part of the City Experiment Fund’s portfolios. By integrating digital innovation with environmental advocacy, the project seeks to demonstrate the viability of reward-based systems in promoting environmental-friendly practices and also provide a scalable and replicable model for similar initiatives in other urban areas.

BOOST was launched in 2020 as a reaction to COVID-19. It has now expanded its scope to tackle issues beyond the pandemic. It engages a wide range of public and private, local and international partners to co-design and jointly launch open calls for innovations that tackle specific development challenges related to inequality and poverty, governance, energy, environment, resilience and gender equality.

The program includes a series of training modules, workshops and individual mentoring sessions led by international experts, experienced in leadership, organizational and business development, digital transformation, behavioral insights, impact measurement and management, and other fields. BOOST innovators are spearheading change for millions of people – from improving air quality and forecasting floods, to creating e-learning classes for improved access to education for children and upskilling platforms for women in STEM.

A new report reflecting on the BOOST: To evaluate its impact and effectiveness and gain insights into the diverse landscape of the growing alumni community, an alumni survey was conducted recently. Read more here.

In development cooperation, Slovakia also promotes innovations in data management. Combination of traditional data sources like household surveys with non-traditional ones can unveil the full potential of data as a tool for bridging gaps between institutions and communities. The Slovak Ministry of Finance supports UNDP’s flagship initiative called the Ministry of Data. These are open innovation challenges in the region aiming to create data-driven tools and crowdsource solutions for socio-economic challenges such as air pollution and mobility in cities. Three rounds of innovation challenges were run, reaching 1000 young people through meetups in 13 countries, soliciting 150 ideas from over 600 young people. Furthermore, a number of resources have been produced including the Data Innovation Guide, a step-by-step guidance for development practitioners to leverage new sources of data, and the Ministry of Data handbook, a guide to run successful data innovation challenges.

Slovakia supports UNDP in exploring innovative financing mechanisms such as crowdfunding, impact investing, blockchain-based, and Islamic financing and other models.    

The potential of social impact bonds (SIBs) has attracted increased attention over recent years. According to the Brookings Institute, in 2019 there were 135 impact bonds in 28 countries, in areas such as employment, social welfare, health, education and criminal justice. One of the fruits of the UNDP – Slovakia cooperation is introduction of the first social impact bond in Armenia. Its aim is to help dairy farmers increase productivity and help fight poverty, as higher productivity means higher household income.

In the Western Balkans or Eastern Partnership countries, the UNDP team explored municipal and sovereign bonds through, for example, the Breathe Better Bond initiative that was issued by local governments and is paired with technical assistance, and resulting proceeds are used to invest in projects that reduce both air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions. 

In Lebanon, a cryptocurrency called Cedar Coin was introduced. The aim is to support reforestation and the protection of Lebanon’s cedar forests, with each coin purchased leading to the planting of a tree. With UNDP Morocco, the team supported the design of a digital passport that facilitates the direct trade of argan oil from women’s cooperatives in Southwest Morocco with exporters and buyers. This solution stimulates e-commerce sales, while building resilient businesses. In Serbia, the team helped pilot the use of blockchain for remittances from the diaspora community to reduce the cost of money transfers and enhance transparency. In Ecuador, the team supported the launch of The Other Bar — the world’s first blockchain shared value chocolate bar, which uses the new technology to deliver fair results for farmers and help them protect their environment.