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Credit: United Nations Development Programme

Credit: United Nations Development Programme

Seoul and UNDP to share best innovation policies with developing Asian cities

Recently, it has been announced that the Seoul Metropolitan Government has signed Memorandum of Understanding with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in Asia and the Pacific on 2 May to not only encourage the adoption of, but also implement the city’s best innovation policies in developing Asian cities.

Prior to this, the Seoul Metropolitan Government and the UNDP in Asia and the Pacific had jointly adopted the Seoul Communique and developed the City I-Leaps program in June 2016 to provide novel ideas to address issues caused by rapid development. 

City I-Leaps enabled South Korea to “share (Korea’s) experiences to benefit others” by leveraging on the fact that “Seoul has emerged at the forefront of social innovation in urban governance”, said Park Won-soon, the mayor of the Seoul Metropolitan Government at the launch of the program in June 2016.

In order to gauge interest in the program, the Seoul Metropolitan has since held Urban Innovation Exchange Workshops in preparation for the gradual implementation of pilot projects under the “City I-Leaps” program.

In addition to the MoU, the Seoul Metropolitan Government and the UNDP in Asia and the Pacific have also agreed upon three beneficiary cities — Makassar in Indonesia, Hulhumale in the Maldives and Colombo in Sri Lanka — that will serve as testbeds for pilot projects. The Seoul Metropolitan Government plans to send urban development experts to each of these beneficiary cities so that ideas and solutions can be better tailored to suit the unique needs and challenges faced by each beneficiary city.

Recent successes in some beneficiary cities have already caught the attention of other developing Asian cities seeking an opportunity to learn from Seoul. According to Paavani Reddy, a governance specialist at the UNDP in Asia and the Pacific tasked with the City I-Leaps program,  “(the) successful case (of Makassar in Indonesia) is drawing great attention from other Asian cities such as Colombo in Sri Lanka and Chandigarh in India”, with many interested participants enquiring about joint workshops and consultative support.

City I-Leaps seeks to not only promote urban innovation via projects on local governance and innovation, but also foster stronger collaboration and know-how in design and systems thinking among policymakers. With the joint MoU between the Seoul Metropolitan Government and the UNDP in Asia and the Pacific, it is expected that both parties will strengthen cooperation in knowledge dissemination and programme outreach, further expanding the impact of the City I-Leaps program.

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