On March 13, 2021, The UNDP Maldives has launched its Accelerator Lab; a part of UNDP’s Global Accelerator Labs Network, which offers a new service that works with people, governments, private sector, and other partners to reimagine development for the 21st century, the next generation of development practitioners.
Accelerator Lab was launched at a virtual event bringing together actors from the government, private sector, civil society as well as youth and actors in the innovation ecosystem. The launch saw the participation of 86 participants on Zoom and reaching over 1200 individuals over Facebook from across the Maldives and the globe.
The Maldives Accelerator Lab aims to become the country’s innovation hub for doing development differently and provide national partners with a set of new services to better tackle complex sustainable development problems. The Maldives Accelerator Lab will be a space to;
1) bring national development ecosystem actors, including grassroots innovators, local and central government and private sector together;
2) identify and elevate the reach and impact of grassroots solutions and innovators;
3) co-design and test the next generation of public policies and development solutions in the country.
Speaking at the launch, Ms. Akiko Fujii, UNDP Resident Representative to the Maldives expressed the need to build forward better and highlighted the important role that Accelerator Lab will play in supporting this process as a “a gel that brings different actors together to gather intelligence, co-design and test solutions, and spark new partnerships to accelerate the achievement of the SDGs.”
Secretary of Foreign Relations at the President’s Office Ms. Sabra Noordeen highlighted some of the ways in which the Maldives is being impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic and noted that the establishment of the “Accelerator Lab could not have come at a more opportune time”, where there is a need for more innovative solutions to address challenges. She emphasized the importance of deriving solutions from “the local context and the people most impacted by it” and underlined the important role that the Accelerator Lab will be playing in achieving this.
Minister of Youth, Sports and Community Empowerment Ahmed Mahloof alluded to how one of the key issues that the Maldives is facing is labor market exclusions, especially in unskilled youth and low labor force participation rates of women, and highlighted on the significant difference in labor force participation rates between Male’ and Atolls. “Our partnership with UNDP’s Accelerator Lab in its first learning cycle on the issue of labor market exclusions, aims to put together a variety of collaborators to test solutions regarding the issue,” Minister Mahloof stated further.
In this vein, during the launch, the Accelerator Lab shared more information about its First Learning Cycle which focuses on the issue of exclusions in the labour market. Professor Ugail, President of the Ugail Foundation which is one of the many partners to the Accelerator Lab in its First Learning Cycle, stressed the importance of technology in innovating for the future and shared examples of the important role that technology has played and continues to play in his own work and life. Professor Ugail stressed that the Lab would be well-utilized by the youth.
The Accelerator Lab has also launched its very first virtual Solutions Safari , which is an exercise to map local solutions and local innovators across the country.
The Maldives Accelerator Lab is joining a network of 90 other labs that will be learning from each other. Kate Sutton, Head of the Regional Innovation Center at UNDP’s Bangkok Regional Office, emphasized the networking effect of this global network noted that the Maldives Lab is “not just a small group of people in the Maldives” but rather a “a global network of people working on innovating and ensuring that we achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.”
The Federal Republic of Germany, the State of Qatar, represented by the Qatar Fund for Development, and UNDP’s core partners are the founding investors of the Accelerator Lab Network.
More information about the UNDP Maldives Accelerator Lab is available in the website.