Photo: UNDP Uzbekistan

UNDP and the Ministry of Innovative Development co-hosted a training on Systems Innovation Portfolio Practice within the framework of the initiative to transform the Aral Sea region into a Zone of Ecological Innovations and Technologies.

On October 7 and 8, UNDP and the Ministry of Innovative Development of the Republic of Uzbekistan co-hosted a virtual training on the practical application of the Systems Innovations Approach in support of the process of transforming the Aral Sea region into a Zone of Ecological Innovations and Technologies. The training was conducted through Zoom, maintaining social distancing while ensuring that participants from across Uzbekistan could participate.

The Systems Innovation Approach is currently being introduced into UNDP-supported initiatives in the Aral Sea region to support the President’s vision. The approach will help deliver positive and comprehensive outcomes for the region’s environment and population impacted by a range of vulnerabilities, and also to transform the area from one associated with disaster, into a Zone of Ecological Innovations and Technologies.

The training contributed to the practice of formation of a portfolio of interconnected, innovative projects, drawing on foreign investment to develop new environmentally-friendly technologies, and means to improve natural resource management, prevent desertification and limit labor migration, among other outcomes. If successful, these experimental solutions could then be scaled-up both nationally and internationally.

Guided by international expert Ephrat Yovel and the National Coordinator of the SDG Integration Initiative in the Aral Sea Ravshan Yunusov, the training focused on portfolio practice on 24 pre-selected projects from the initial project inventory of 38 projects currently being implemented in the Aral Sea region.

The first day of the training began with a summary of the Systems Innovation Approach, identifying potential barriers to its application, reviewing how the projects undertaken in the Aral Sea region interconnect, and overviewing the needs for establishing a resilient and interconnected portfolio of projects.

Subsequently, the training programme moved to presentations of current project results, followed by a series of rapid discussions and decisions regarding which of these are most supportive towards creating the needed set of interventions to implement the Aral Sea Region Zone of Ecological Innovations and Technologies.

Nearly 40 national and international professionals took part in the training, including project representatives from the UNDP Uzbekistan and national partners lead by the Ministry of Innovative Development, along with representatives of NGOs and civil society organizations.

Directions for innovation in the region include improving water management, energy efficiency and agricultural practices, improving livelihoods, protecting natural resources, developing infrastructure, and ensuring community resilience.

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