In the past, innovation was often perceived as chiefly a tool for business. Today, there is a newfound understanding that public sector-led innovation is fundamental for driving societal advancement, and in particular for the most marginalized. As a catalyst for public-sector innovation, the United Nations (UN) system, with its 4,000 locations worldwide, offers unique and strategic opportunities to broaden the global scope of innovation. As outlined in UN 2.0, the UN aims to leverage its extensive network to enhance the impact of innovation, striving to create an agile ecosystem that rapidly scales solutions. 

Tanya Accone, Senior Adviser on Innovation at the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) puts it this way: “We believe that innovation is everyone’s business, placing the SG’s [UN Secretary General] vision at the heart of ‘doing things differently, and doing different things,’ with our unhidden agenda being that we’re doing so with, by and for children.” 

In celebration of the remarkable innovation initiatives within the UN, the United Nations System Staff College is excited to be hosting the second edition of “Learn and Share: S.P.A.C.E. for Innovation at the UN”. The event will serve as a vibrant space for attendees to connect, engage, ask questions, and celebrate innovation champions and their groundbreaking initiatives.  

"I look forward to participating in this event for the second time. It is a truly enriching opportunity not only to share the progress of our innovation work, but also to learn from colleagues across the UN system and to explore future collaboration opportunities. Together with the UNSSC team, we have worked on a case study for the UN Innovation Toolkit that we are particularly excited to share as part of this event," says Janina Peter, Head of Innovation at World Food Forum (WFF). 

This year's edition is created in collaboration with seven UN entities; the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), International Trade Centre (ITC), United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), UNICEF, WFF, World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) and the World Food Programme (WFP). It will begin with a captivating conversation with UN leaders delving into how they have identified innovation champions, conducted innovation challenges, and worked to mainstream innovation within their entities. 

According to Sandra Raad, the Head of the Innovation Network at WFP, "Innovation has been in WFP’s DNA since the use of airlifts in the 1960s, and today WFP hosts the UN’s largest Innovation platform in the pursuit of Zero Hunger and other SDGs. Innovation is also a driving force of our culture, alongside collaboration, knowledge management, and partnerships. With that in mind, we look forward to joining our sister UN agencies in this exciting exchange, to learn from them and share our experience fostering an innovation culture across our teams." 

Marked as a key resource in the 2023 UN 2.0 Policy Brief, the UN Innovation Toolkit will be showcased during the event through stories of use by innovation champions across the UN system, and how they have translated innovative ideas into tangible solutions. The Toolkit was created and organized into the S.P.A.C.E. framework, with five key pillars identified as critical for sustained, scoped, and systemic innovation in the UN context: Strategy; Partnerships; Architecture, Culture, and Evaluation. 

“The adoption and use of the UN Innovation Toolkit has contributed to the systematization of innovation at IFAD. From the design of the IFAD Innovation Labs to improved results in achieving user-centricity and buy-in, the toolkit has supported IFAD teams in their innovation journey effectively. Join us on December 5 to hear their stories.” says Gladys H. Morales, Senior Officer, Global Head of Innovation at IFAD.    

Each pillar of the toolkit will feature three to five innovation champions from each of the participating UN entities not only sharing their experiences but also engaging in conversations with attendees.    

Chief of the Innovation Unit at UNFPA, Dr. Nigina Muntean says: “Innovation @UNFPA is an accelerator of progress, and at its core is the belief that every challenge presents an opportunity for positive change. In this End-of-Year Event, UNFPA will showcase how we practice this core belief through gender equitable innovations together with our partners by breaking down barriers and unlocking access to resources and opportunities for women and girls around the world.” 

Join the other 3,500 registrants and enhance your innovation skills by connecting with a global network of United Nations Innovators at the 2023 End-of-Year Event: "Learn and Share: S.P.A.C.E. for Innovation at the UN 

Innovation Coordinator at ITC, Adriana de Oro Osorio:  

“Connect to know how different innovation teams at the UN are mainstreaming innovation in their organizations, while meeting some of the people who champion the way forward. This is a unique opportunity that you shouldn’t miss if you believe that more innovation is needed to accomplish the Sustainable Development Goals.”