Our Perspective

      • Moldova: Small country, big data?

        05 Aug 2015


        Most people don’t know a lot about Moldova. One prominent story to make international news recently, was a widespread scandal involving the theft of US $1 billion from three of the country’s leading banks. Thus, few might realize that the small country between Romania and Ukraine also happens to be at the forefront of the data revolution – having moved towards open data at a much faster pace than any of its neighbours. It’s been only five years since Moldova began to take steps towards reforming its public service. As part of this reform, the government committed to opening up its data and launching its first open data portal in 2011. Four years later, date.gov.md is already on version 3.0, and home to over 800 datasets. Moldova has passed legal reforms committing to making government data open by default. In the process, it has gathered a small but ardent community of open data enthusiasts, many of whom I had the opportunity to meet on a recent trip to Chisinau. “Yes, but” Here were my questions: - Did open data really make governance in Moldova more transparent? - Did the government become more accountable to its people? - Are Moldovans actually using  Read More

      • From design to access: MiLab goes on safari

        29 Jun 2015

        Photo: UNDP/Victoria Puiu

        We often consider the buildings we’re constructing as comfortable and accessible for all. How often do we remember what a challenge they can be for those living with disabilities? As a part of a diversity initiative task force, we made an effort to assess the level of accessibility of our very own United Nations in Moldova premises. We conducted three user safaris with people with physical, visual and hearing impairments. What’s a user safari? A user safari is a valuable way of understanding how people interact with and experience a service or environment. There is no one better to spot the weaknesses when it comes to accessibility than with people who experience those challenges first-hand. Empathizing and co-creating with users is at the heart of MiLab’s work, and this time was no different. In order to overcome any initial awkwardness or trepidation, we used role-playing to break the ice. We assigned each participant a role he/she had to perform throughout the whole user-safari – i.e. a staff member, presenter, or participant at a project meeting. Keep an open mind…and schedule. As facilitators, we had to be flexible going throughout the exercise. Each person had their own way of interacting with the  Read More

      • We the people: Insights from post-2015 Moldova

        08 Apr 2015

        Complexity and energy: When biomass means more than just heat

        The sustainable development goals have yet to be adopted; however, the first signs of changes in the way we work are already there. Here are five reflections on what we’ve learned so far in Moldova: 1. It’s the complexity, stupid If ever we needed a powerful jolt to remind us about the pitfalls of thinking and working in silos, the post-2015 consultations were it. Time and again, horizontal issues such as jobs, inequality, and governance topped citizens’ concerns. In Moldova, we saw how governance and the rural-urban divide impact development in the country. This helped us to adapt our perspective on how we observe the progress on MDG implementation. As we become increasingly context- and connectedness-aware, we start treating development phenomena more holistically: TB treatment is not just a matter of taking one’s pills, and providing access to energy in a resource-poor country is not just a matter of laying the pipeline. 2. Smarter, not bigger government Trust in public institutions in Moldova has reached new lows, but government is still seen as the main actor for improving people’s livelihoods. How do we address this conundrum? Society faces complex challenges such as rapid technological change and a general democratization of political space. In  Read More

      • Ready for post-2015? A place to start in Moldova

        09 Mar 2015

        Every beginning is difficult: Read the authors’ first post on the Futurescaper experiment

        In our previous blogs, we reflected on the nature of development complexities that emerged as part of our foresighting exercise in Moldova. In this post, we will focus more on some of the specifics: What institutions should take the lead? What are the biggest institutional challenges?What are key recommendations? Leaders, not followers Omne initium difficile est goes the Latin saying. This is especially applicable when it comes to public institutions taking the lead in adapting the Sustainable Development Goals. As the issues emerging from our first experiment with Futurescaper are largely crosscutting, the government and parliament appeared as the main actors to lead the charge. All in all, this outlines the need for intra-governmental coordination and communication, which will be crucial for any success. Another important institutional ingredient will be leadership: It is critical that our institutions have the capacity to take the risks and demonstrate political will. Tall orders of tomorrow With the world around us in flux, traditional institutional hierarchies and business-as-usual solutions are being upended; however, many internal predicaments sound all too familiar. Our survey highlights eight of them. Again, even from the first glance at the graph, it is clear this is not a series of predicaments, but an interconnected web.  Read More

      • You’ve got mail: One Moldovan mayor’s new slogan

        27 Feb 2015

        The mayor of the Larga communie is trying alternative ways of reaching to his constituency. (Photos: UNDP Moldova)

        Larga is one of the 60 communities that UNDP in Moldova is supporting to become a model of democratic local governance. For us, this means finding ways to get citizens engaged in local affairs, a major challenge in rural communities in Moldova. One way that we’ve tried to intervene is in challenging our mayors to increase transparency in their work – and to improve communication with their citizens. For the Larga mayor, Radu Urecheanu, this challenge presented an opportunity to try something different. Here are some notes from his – and our – learning-by-doing process: 1.     Using traditional communication tools Mayor Urecheanu’s first step was to use the traditional communication tools available in his commune:  information boards, local newsletters, and public hearings. However, we quickly realized that these methods didn’t immediately work. “Unless one uses big font writing and attractive pictures, nobody reads them,” said the Mayor. “And what about those people who work on the field all day long? When will they come to read the announcements placed in front of the mayoralty?” To reach out to his constituency, the Mayor turned to alternative solutions. The commune’s website was revamped to broadcast the local council’s meetings, and it soon began  Read More