Participants from across UNDP Country Offices in Africa who attended the think tank workshop in Dakar (Photo, UNDP Nigeria/Lucky Musonda)

UNDP Nigeria joined other country offices from across the continent that gathered in Dakar, Senegal to share ideas and explore options for strengthening the organisation's position as a leader in delivering development solutions that are not only innovative but respond to the needs of countries' aspiration to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Last year, in line with the organisation’s Strategic Plan (2018-2022), which places innovation at the centre of UNDP’s work, the Administrator, Achim Steiner, launched a global network of “SDG Accelerator Labs”, a vehicle through which UNDP would strengthen its thought leadership and innovativeness in not only designing and deploying new ideas for addressing development challenges, but also support individuals and communities that have already developed solutions for problems within their environments.

The goal of these Labs is to strengthen the capacity of UNDP country teams to leverage and combine global, cutting-edge thinking in development to build on and invest in local solutions and partners, thereby accelerating SDG implementation in these countries. As a pilot initiative, 60 labs have been setup globally with most of them located in Africa. Countries, like Nigeria, which are not part of this network are also implementing their own initiatives to support national efforts to meet the SDGs target through partnership and support with local communities and organisations.  

The Innovation Think Tank Workshop for Africa facilitated several engagements among participants who shared their country’s status and activities – different countries are implementing and planning to implement locally relevant initiatives that are informed by experiences from communities and individuals.  The meeting in Dakar is part of UNDP’s initiative intended to create a learning network among country teams and to test new ways of working to address social and environmental challenges.

Nigeria used the meeting to share information on its own version of the initiative stating that a 3-year programme to 'promote youth employability, innovation and entrepreneurship across the country had been developed and that UNDP was establishing partnerships with relevant government entities, innovation hubs and vocational skills training centres as part of its strategy to support the national social investment, innovation and poverty reduction agenda.

UNDP Nigeria has conducted several entrepreneurship training programmes for youth across the country. A partnership with the Lagos State government, through the Lagos State Employment Trust Fund has also facilitated skills transfer to thousands of youths in the state. UNDP is also working with innovation hubs and other ecosystem members in mapping out already existing solutions from communities.   

SDG Accelerator labs will transform UNDP’s collective approach by introducing new services, backed by evidence and practice, and by accelerating the testing and dissemination of solutions within and across countries. Sense-making, collective intelligence, solutions mapping, and experimentation will be part of the new offer from UNDP to governments.

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