The 17 Sustainable Development Goals come with a deadline: 2030. And so far, very few countries have introduced the changes to keep the promises they have made. The deadline to achieve these goals is looming and there is a need to intensify the efforts of all sectors of society towards action to get back on track.
UNDP has begun a three-year global initiative setting up Accelerator Labs in order to tackle these wicked, multifaceted development challenges. South Africa is one of 60 Labs serving 78 countries which have been established to achieve this; therefore, providing a new offer from the UNDP Country Office.
This will help find radical new ways of delivering development solutions that go beyond business as usual; linear solutions discovered through unleashing the potential of local innovators, collective intelligence and experimentation.
UNDP South Africa has partnered with the Department of Science and Innovation (DSI) to implement this innovative global initiative which launched on 28 January 2020.
The launch was addressed by the Minister of Higher Education, Science and Innovation; Dr Bonginkosi Emmanuel “Blade” Nzimande. The programme included a panel discussion with specialists from government, private sector, civil society, academia and innovators to talk about, Advancing Development through Innovation in South Africa, which was facilitated by Professor Derrick Swartz; Advisor: Strategic Projects in Ocean Sciences at Nelson Mandela University.
The event also presented the results of a rapid assessment of the South African innovation ecosystem (including public and private sector hubs, and those within civil society and academia). There was a special focus on showcasing young innovators.
“The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) accelerator is a timely intervention in South Africa’s innovation journey and I am confident that it will play a crucial role in advancing many of the policy intents of our 2019 White Paper on Science, Technology and Innovation,” said Minister Nzimande, in his speech.
“I am also confident that the accelerator will play an important role in fast tracking the implementation of the social and economic development priorities of South Africa, as clearly defined and detailed in the National Development Plan and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG’s). Our most urgent task for the National System of Innovation (NSI) over the next decade is to direct our collective efforts and strengths to address the triple challenges of poverty, inequality, and unemployment.
“In partnership with a wide variety of stakeholders, we are working towards the finalisation of the first decadal plan on science, technology, and innovation by June 2020,” he said.