Lillian Njoro,UNDP Accelerator Lab Head of Experimentation in Kenya speaks at the roundtable meeting in Nairobi (Photo, UNDP Kenya/Lucky Musonda)


UNDP Accelerator Lab in Kenya represented UNDP in the first roundtable meeting on ‘Cities leveraging the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) to accelerate the achievement of SDGs’ in Nairobi.

The meeting, a first in a series of thought leadership and design workshops to catalyse co-creation of actions in support of the New Urban Agenda for Nairobi City County in Kenya and the City of Los Angeles in the USA provided an opportunity for the Accelerator in UNDP Kenya to share its priorities in tackling some of Kenya's complex development challenges. The Accelerator Lab, launched last year, is currently focusing identifying, promoting and supporting ideas that seek to address youth unemployment in the country.

The Accelerator Lab noted the need to unpack 4IR within the context of the future of work to ensure young people are positioned to take advantage of the emerging opportunities. Speaking on behalf of the Accelerator Lab, Ms. Lillian Njoro, the Head of Experimentation highlighted the critical role of experimentation in development of interventions to support evidence-based action. She also noted the importance of opening up the space to the beneficiaries who are best placed to drive the solutions creation process since they are the ones who understand the issues best.  

Discussions at the roundtable meeting centred on cities as drivers for sustainable and equitable development leveraging the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR). 4IR refers to breakthroughs in technology that are affecting the way in which we live, work and interact with each other and is characterised by technologies such as Artificial Intelligence (AI), blockchain, Internet of Things (IoT), 3D printing, nanotechnology, genetic engineering, high-speed mobile communication, among other technologies.

The ubiquitous explosion of these technologies has disrupted the way people live and interact with the environment and present great opportunities to leapfrog progress towards achieving the SDGs. Technology giant, Microsoft shared their AI Country Plan and how its programme pillars will contribute to creating opportunities for driving Kenya's economic growth.

Notable contributions in the discussions included submissions from participants who emphasised the continued missing elements in design of cities when it comes to inclusion of people living with disabilities (PLWDs), sustainable spaces for children to thrive and effects of adverse childhood/ environmental experiences on mental health. 

Speakers at the roundtable discussion were drawn from the Kenyan innovation ecosystem, including representatives from Microsoft, iHub, Meltwater Entrepreneurial School of Technology (MEST), Strathmore University, Liquid Telecom, Green String Network, Council of Governors, Global Disability Innovation Hub, Global Partnership for Sustainable Development Data, UN-Habitat and UN Resident Coordinator’s Office and the Office of the Mayor of Los Angeles (LA), among others.

The engagements at the roundtable are key in strengthening UNDP’s partnerships within the Kenyan innovation ecosystem.  The Lab will continue engaging with different stakeholders as part of ongoing sensemaking efforts to better understand and contextualise emerging challenges and opportunities and building partnerships to co-design relevant and impactful solutions for the youth of Kenya.

The meeting was convened by Thunderbird School of Global Management, Nairobi City County and the World Economic Forum (WEF) Council on Global Public Goods for the Fourth Industrial Revolution supported by the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation. 

Authored by Lillian Njoro/ Head of Experimentation - Accelerator Lab Kenya 

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