Grassroots Innovations as Gateway to Achieve the SDGs at Local Level

The COVID-19 crisis has highlighted the critical role of local stakeholders more than ever before and has presented a significant opportunity to drive more engagement with local actors directly.

Inequalities and polarisation are steadily rising, and the consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic are set to further contribute to this trend. Local governments and civil society organisations (CSOs) have been first responders to shocks like the pandemic and are at the forefront of providing multi-faceted responses and services. The provision of equal and secure access to public services is therefore a core responsibility of Local and Regional Governments (LRGs), but political crises and conflicts as effects of social and economic difficulties created widespread fragility and vulnerability. Furthermore, the effects of climate change are becoming progressively more concrete and visible, giving rise to another set of crises: natural disasters.

In this time of widespread vulnerability, complexity and challenges innovations are essential for sustainable development and to build back forward. This is why the UNDP Accelerator Lab Thailand got engaged with local stakeholders and communities, that are constantly creating local innovations. The crisis accelerated innovations at an unprecedented rate and UNDP Thailand is listening and actively integrating those innovations into their country programmes to foster sustainable, resilient and inclusive development. This process of co-creating solutions by the locals for the locals is turning the lived experiences of everyday local communities, their knowledge and creativity into transformation of the local food systems and foster economic recovery in Southern Thailand.

The locally owned solutions allow to address systemic, multisectoral problems by the people who are most affected by the problems themselves. This ownership and integration of grassroots innovations allow all local stakeholders to have participative and meaningful impact on solutions that have the potential of scale. It’s local innovation and engagement that drive the mainstreaming and localisation of the SDGs.  

,,In a nutshell, grassroots innovations are the embodiment of human agency.’’ 
Pattamon Rungchavalnont, Head of Solutions Mapping, UNDP Accelerator Lab Thailand.

For the whole UNDP Thailand report with the insightful example of the “Food System Heroes” project, a local youth innovation challenge for an inclusive transformation of fresh markets, please click here.