The problems that human societies will face in the future will be complex, and it will take the very best minds, working as a collective, to solve them. The GRassroot Innovation Database (GRID), which is being built by the UNDP Mauritius and Seychelles Accelerator Lab, will include the Seychellois, Mauritian and Rodriguan innovators and the grassroot solutions they have worked on over the years. Through this initiative, innovators from our islands will be brought to the forefront and their solutions upscaled to the national and regional levels.
As a United Nations Agency, the UNDP supports countries towards achieving the 17 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. The vision behind is to promote prosperity for all but not at the expense of the planet and of our collective future. However, protecting the planet and people presents unique challenges. Furthermore, we are today facing unprecedented issues such as the dramatic effects of COVID-19 and climate change. To sustainably manage these threats which are quickly shaping the new normal, recipes of the past will unfortunately not work. It is thus time to think differently and this implies to work with and learn from each other.
Getting grassroots innovators on board
Today, it has become clear that top-down approaches (including solutions coming from “elsewhere” imposed on local populations) oftentimes fail as they are not really adapted to local specificities. Lessons learnt also shown that inclusive approaches are more efficient to address difficulties faced by the population. In our modern times, this involves getting everyone with innovative ideas and solutions on board towards achieving the SDGs. Missing this essential component would be tragic.
The main aim of the Accelerator Lab is to strengthen UNDP’s relationship with the grassroot communities and know more about their approaches to daily problems. Learning from these grassroot innovators, will allow the Lab to support the UNDP country office in better conceptualizing projects and proposals together. This collective approach will also contribute to improve the solutions proposed to the citizens of Mauritius, Rodrigues and Seychelles.
A GRassroot Innovation Database to democratize access to solutions
Inspired by the Indian GRID, created by Professor Anil Gupta of the Honey Bee Network and UNDP India, the UNDP Mauritius and Seychelles Accelerator Lab has embarked on a mission to build a database of innovators and grassroots innovations. This database, which will be built in collaboration with numerous partners, is meant to be user-friendly, searchable and useful for different audiences: international organizations, other funding agencies, government bodies, the private sector, incubators, and civil society.
Designed to be open and free to use, the GRID will allow easy access to a plethora of innovative solutions pertaining to women empowerment, economic growth, circular economy, sustainable natural resource management, livelihood generation, etc. Through the GRID, the works of innovators will benefit from additional support and many of them will be upscaled across the nation and beyond. It is also expected that the Governments of Mauritius and Seychelles use the GRID to determine who to engage with and what initiatives to support in the interest of the population.
The UNDP Accelerator Lab is preparing for a massive data collection exercise and ten UN Community Volunteers are on the way to help in these important tasks. The GRID will not be limited to textual information but will be a rich multimedia database with audio recordings, photos and videos. The data entered will be properly validated thorough cross-checking while outdated or irrelevant data will be purged regularly.
The protection of intellectual property is another essential aspect of the GRID. The publication of information will indefectibly require the authorization of their owners, in line with existing legislations such as the Data Protection Act of the Republic of Mauritius.
Innovation is key to the future
We have come to a period of human history where most simple problems have been solved and we now have to face the complex ones. Making sure that people of Seychelles, Mauritius and Rodrigues can strive without further affecting our planet and depleting our natural resources is a complicated task. In the face of such challenges, our Small Island Developing States cannot afford to miss out on the best minds they have. Therefore, the GRID is an important step towards bringing grassroot innovators to the table.
We envision a near future where decision makers will have direct lines of communication with innovators; a future where it would be easy to identify the real experts in different fields. This will allow various entities, including the United Nations, governments, private structures, and NGOs, to leverage on the very best minds which our countries can offer.
And, when the very best minds work together, the sky is the limit.