BLOG| UNDP’s Point of View: Unleashing Innovation to Achieve the Sustainable Development Goals

Aug 29, 2017

Young talent gathering to compete at UNLEASH 2017 Innovation Lab pose with UNDP Administrator Achim Steiner. Photo: Ben Moore

Benjamin Moore currently serves in the Office of the Resident Coordinator, at UNDP South Sudan, as Special Assistant to the Humanitarian and Resident Coordinator. He was one of ten UNDP staff members invited from across the globe to the UNLEASH 2017 Innovation Lab event which was held in Denmark in August. These UNDP staffers came from country offices, regional offices and headquarters, and together with other innovators competed under seven broad themes: Health, Water, Food, Energy, Sustainable Production & Consumption, Education & ICT, and Urban Sustainability.

Ben’s participation is part of UNDP’s commitment to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030, a feat which will require new and innovative solutions that challenge traditional business models and approaches. These solutions will need to be commercially viable as well as deliver value to society.

Read more to find out about Ben’s experience and how lessons learned from UNLEASH 2017 can be applied to South Sudan’s own national development processes.

Ben, your project was actually one of the winners at UNLEASH 2017, can you describe the winning proposal and what set it apart from others?

Ben:

Our idea was simple, produce and sell black soldier fly farming kits to smallholder farmers in Nigeria. Black soldier fly eggs feed off organic waste such as vegetable produce and other biodegradable materials. The eggs grow 1000 times in size over just 3 weeks to 2cm and can be sold as fish, chicken and other livestock feed and for human consumption. Another bi-product is frass - organic fertilizer which can be sold as an additional revenue stream. We’re solving a waste management problem, food security problem and environmental problems. While black soldier fly farming is not new in itself; systematic farming has been difficult for small holders due to lack of facilities. The kit my team developed developed is cheap, easy to use and allows systematic farming by using waste. The project is called dotigold. Doti means waste. We turn waste into (edible, worm) gold.

unleash2dotigold team accepts award for winning the Food category at UNLEASH 2017 Innovation Lab.

What inspired you the most during the experience? Are there any lessons or themes you took away from UNLEASH 2017?  

Ben:

The process of concept development was very rewarding. The team went through many ups and downs including frustration about not solving a tangible issue for real people. After spending 3 days on one solution, we scrapped it and re-did the process. the idea for dotigold was conceived at the lake during a frustrated break, when someone pointed at a topwater fly. Our Nigerian team member talked about the frustration of his father, a fish farmer who struggled to secure affordable feed for his aquaculture. One thing led to another, and the idea for large scale production of black soldier fly farming kits was conceived.

How can the discussions or activities at UNLEASH 2017 apply to South Sudan, your work or progress on the Sustainable Development Goals?

Ben:

I think the creative process around finding innovative solutions to pressing issues is paramount. Tailormade ideas that are developed on a basis of being openminded and a structured approach to problem definition is key to delivering on the Sustainable Development Goals, anywhere.

unleash3Ben appears on Danish TV programme DR2 Dagen to talk about UNLEASH 2017 Innovation Lab and the Sustainable Development Goals.

Why should the average person in South Sudan care about the Sustainable Development Goals? How can more people get engaged in the process here?

Ben:

The SDGs are ultimately about making the world a beautiful place to be for all living things, humans, animals and nature alike. As individuals, we can be stewards for change and the SDGs are like the operating system of a smartphone – a framework. Our ideas, initiatives, businesses and projects are like apps for a smartphone. We have the responsibility to operationalize the SDGs, which can and should be done at all levels of society.   

What is one of your own goals for 2017?

Ben:

I dream of making a difference in society, and helping ourselves create the world we all want to live in. Every year I hope to use my abilities in private- and work life to make even a small change to people around me and to those who may not even know me. I hope that my contribution to dotigold and UNDP makes a difference that can be used in our common trajectory towards the SDGs.