Silofighters: the UNDG blog

Crowdfunding for smart cities in Albania

BY Jorina Kadare, Stefania Sechi | 14 November 2017

Let’s start with a little bit of recent history. Innovative financing for the UN goes back to the International Conference on Financing for Development in 2002. The hope was that innovative financing would help to bridge the gap between what was available and what was needed to reach the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) by 2015. As the name suggests, innovative finance means raising funds for development by using unconventional mechanisms. For example, micro-levies, public-private partnerships, and other mechanisms that go beyond financial contributions. It can also mean optimising the use of traditional funding sources to transfer assets to where they are needed the most. Fast forward to 2012, when the UN, governmental institutions, and donors started to mull over realistic ways to finance the achievement of the Global Goals by 2030, bearing in mind the estimated total costs which vary between $90 and $ 120 trillion, and with a funding gap of $2.5 trillion per year. The concept of innovative financing came up again. #Crowdfunding4Children We at the UN in Albania decided to test out alternative forms of financing, which are progressively being mainstreamed across the agency’s interventions. Ever since the internet made it possible to use crowdfunding to finance projects, individuals and the private sector have used this new tool to their advantage, so why not us? We saw the potential of using crowdfunding as an integral part of our mission to achieve the 2030 Agenda. Our first successful experiment was a crowdfunding campaign launched in July 2016 that allowed the construction of the first all-inclusive playground in Albania suitable for children with special needs and diverse abilities. This work builds on our previous  open data project with the Municipality of Tirana where we blended and opened up data sets on safety of our cities in the  Open Data Portal of Tirana Smart City. Out of 22 play grounds currently under management by the Municipality of Tirana, only one is suitable for children with special needs. Building better parks will help all children interact with their peers and develop their personalities in a safe and healthy environment.  And it went pretty well! By tapping into a large pool of individuals, mainly via social media and crowdfunding platforms, and through advocacy initiatives we raised our goal of $20,000 for the #Crowdfunding4Children campaign. Supporting youth employment through equity crowdfunding UNDP, the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and UN Women are also testing out how to build financial connections between mature enterprises willing to invest in promising start-ups through equity crowdfunding. The goal is to set up a sustainable system that supports emerging businesses. United Nations Albania, in partnership with the Chamber of Commerce and Industry Tirana, was able to engage with 100 VIP companies in an exploration survey, probing their potential participation in equity crowdfunding schemes. Another component of this joint initiative relates to the assessment of a reward-based crowdfunding model among small communities in Tirana. This tool allows individuals to contribute towards a specific project with the anticipation of receiving a tangible –non-financial– reward at a later date. We are building on this model by involving private services providers. For example, integrating the option to financially contribute to a social project at the time as making a routine payment, for example, for an electricity or telecommunications service bill.  We hope that these alternative mechanisms will play an important role in transforming Tirana into a smart city. We believe that crowdfunding deserves more trust in the development world. Crowdsourcing enables resource mobilisation, promotes innovative initiatives, and galvanises active citizenship!

Silofighters: the UNDG blog

‘Glocalizing’ the Sustainable Development Goals in Moldova

BY Aurelia Spataru | 20 October 2017

Almost two years ago, 193 Member States of the United Nations, including Moldova, adopted the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. This bold and universal Agenda already has many countries around the world taking action to improve people’s lives and plan for a sustainable future.   In Moldova’s case, planting the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in national soil and turning the 2030 Agenda into a reality has been quite the journey! The good news is that  Moldova’s national policy agenda is now aligned with more than 106 of the SDGs targets and it selected 226 global indicators to assess progress towards these global goals. 'Glocalizing' the SDGs targets The UN resolution says that the SDG targets are “aspirational and global, with each government setting its own national targets guided by the global level of ambition but taking into account national circumstances.” The beauty of the SDGs is that they’re inclusive of everyone, so our first step was to identify which of the 169 global targets are  most urgent for the Moldovan context. This is what we mean by ‘glocalizing’ - localising a global set of goals while benefitting from the drive of the whole world towards the same ambition. So here’s how we 'glocalize': The UN in Moldova worked through 180 of the government of Moldova’s main national strategic documents to find connections between the Moldovan local reality and the global targets. We found immediate points of contact with almost two thirds of the global targets. Once we gathered this information, we spoke with public servants, civic activists, community and business leaders, and researchers. We wanted to know their thoughts on the SDG targets. If a target was not immediately applicable, then, we wanted to know how it could be adjusted to make it more concrete and specific to the Moldovan context. During the consultations, we jointly defined who would be the responsible government institution to take action and ownership so that we reach the targets. With a fresh pair of eyes, we looked at the national strategic documents again to identify all policy-related gaps that needed to be addressed. We also provided proposals to amend policies and introduce new concepts of sustainable development to deepen the focus on the most vulnerable populations, for example, adding a specific target to understand how many people fall into poverty due to natural disasters such as floods, droughts and landslides. The 2030 Agenda is a complex one, and Moldova is in full swing towards reforming its central administration. The country doesn’t have enough financial resources to cover all the costs at once. So, taking this into consideration, we set priorities and came up with a list of “triggers” that would produce a domino effect and help us reach the other linked targets. Crowdsourcing how to measure SDG progress in Moldova The Moldovan government is currently only prepared to report on half of the nationalized indicators because of financial, capacity and methodological constraints. When we realized this, we knew that we would need to engage experts across many disciplines in order to develop methodologies and data collection.     Under the leadership of the State Chancellery and the direct involvement of the National Bureau of Statistics, we worked for nine months to tailor global targets and indicators to fit the situation on the ground. Talking to different stakeholders (public authorities, civil society, and the private sector) was decisive to our success. Their valuable inputs and insights for tailoring global targets and indicators to the national context represented the first step in assuming of the 2030 Agenda by the people of Moldova. Trying to figure all of this out was no easy feat, so we developed a toolkit which will also help us with the further integration of the SDGs’ into the work of both government and partners in the next stage. The Council for Sustainable Development, which was set up as an institutional anchor to the SDGs nationalization process endorsed and disseminated all of our collective efforts. The process to nationalize the SDGs in Moldova has even catalysed a broader reform aimed at streamlining the policy planning framework. Given the success, the Government has asked the UN to support in the evaluation of its current national strategy and the new Strategy Moldova 2030. Even after all this… the work has just begun! Do you have any advice for us?  Let us know!

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