Our Perspective

Same-same but different: Can Asia’s rapidly growing cities use ‘design thinking’ to replicate each other's successes?

Panorama of the Bangladeshi capital, Dhaka. Photo: Al-Emrun Garjon

What happens when you bring together members of municipal governments, urban experts, civil society and staff from various countries to brainstorm on addressing urban challenges? Sounds like a typical meeting, but wait...   While city planners interacted and learnt from each other in tackling similar problems, what was far from obvious at the time was how they could transfer a successful practice, product or service from one context (say Beijing, China) to another (say Dhaka, Bangladesh)? And by different context, I mean how language, culture, history and society come together in an appreciably different way to render simple ‘replication’ of a service inapplicable, or, at the very least, a significant challenge. After all, we wouldn’t have to look far, or dig deep, to see the failed attempts of replicating a ‘good practice’ in a context other than its home. Taking our cue from design-thinking Design thinking allows us to unpack, reimagine and reconstruct a practice to see in what shape or form it might work in a different context. In our concrete case, Bangladesh counterparts are keen to adopt China’s successful one-stop-shop social service centres. The problem: urban residents in Bangladesh from low-income backgrounds find it hard to avail the social... Read more

In Bhutan, 'ain’t no mountain high enough'

Eventually, videoconferencing facilities could be used to enable citizens from across Bhutan and parliamentarians to meet virtually to discuss issues of concern. Photo Courtesy of National Assembly of Bhutan

As an advocate for innovation, UNDP is leading the development of a Virtual Zomdu, (Zomdu: a meeting of residents of villages or communities), together with project partners in Bhutan. ... Read more

In the Maldives, mobile text messages that make for greener, cleaner islands

There are over 600,000 mobile phone subscribers in the Maldives for a national population of only half as much. UNDP Photo

Google the Maldives on your browser. The images that populate your browser window are often of pristine island resorts or of Malé, the overcrowded capital city. There is a ‘third’ Maldives that people often forget exists; a side of the Maldives that tourists will seldom see...... Read more

Saving our Tuna

The UNDP/Discovery Asia documentary, Saving our Tuna, points to a few of the means that are used to keep the catch in check. The aim of the film, which recently aired on Discovery Channel in Asia, is to raise awareness about the complex issues related to sustainability in our oceans.... Read more

In Viet Nam, community homesteads are the new law schools

Vulnerable groups have among the lowest rates of access to justice services in Viet Nam. UN Photo.

In the past decade, Viet Nam has achieved impressive economic growth and human development, but it is increasingly evident that justice services have not been able to keep pace with these rapid changes.... Read more