CASE: A marketplace for climate-smart solutions
12. August 2019
Valentyn Malyk
Policy Mission

While climate action is seeing a lot of initiative across Serbia, there are currently no ways for stakeholders with relevance to climate innovation to present new solutions for improvements on national scale: Non-efficient use of resources, poor environmental protection legislation and non-environmental citizen behavior, across all of the country.

UNDP Serbia seeks to source climate-smart innovative ideas for improving public services that local communities are delivering to their citizens. The key is to gather really different stakeholders to propose solutions together; tech, business models, etc. They seek to engage private sector and other stakeholders, bring forward circular economy as new business models, and source new types of financing, as well as work on behavior change.

How platform-way-of-working will tackle the issue/challenge?

UNDP Serbia seeks to provide an online platform for innovative climate-smart solutions and ideas to be implemented in the local, regional governments, generating environmental, economic and social benefits for citizens. The local empowerment shall leverage untapped resources by connecting initiatives and building synergy.

The initiative creates a hub for matching stakeholders, solutions and resources (businesses, science and CSOs as innovators and local self-governments as hosts of innovative climate-smart solutions), while at the same time promoting innovation and the creation of new ideas through the cross-pollination of stakeholders in the climate solution space who would not necessarily otherwise cross paths. It is also focused on merging funds and provisioning incubation/acceleration-type technical assistance support.

By doing so, the platform aims to provide a marketplace of opportunities for creators of innovative solutions (technical solutions, business models) to be matched with hosts and/or partners, creating a network of traditional and non-traditional stakeholders, enabling blending of finances, and helping the local communities to become climate resilient. Furthermore, the platform provides technical assistance by offering climate incubator/accelerator-like support of innovative ideas, by mentorship, technical support, prototyping, business planning, identification of financing sources, pitching for donors etc.

Difference between project-based approach and platform approach applied?

By taking this approach, UNDP Serbia is assisting the Ministry of Environmental Protection to change a common way of sourcing projects. At the same time, UNDP is helping traditional and non-traditional stakeholders to exchange ideas, knowledge and resources by facilitating the match-making process.

Vlad Smolyakov
What was difficult?

Doing the rapid prototype and testing it turned out to be rather straightforward, while other questions proved much harder. For instance the challenge of how to operationalize the platform, ie. launch, scale it and find sustainable models for maintenance and further development. On theone hand this has proved difficult in not only technical and financial terms, but also by having to adhere tothe rules and procedures that govern UNDP’s work.

Secondly, when addressing the organisational backdrop of the UNDP, questions around how to position it within the global Country Office system have proven less obvious to answer.

Another challenge has been establishing the right connections between stakeholders; so that they relate to each other as equal peers and co-drivers instead of referring as UNDP Serbia as central mediator and owner of the initiative (the UNDP’s conventional way of organising efforts and the MO, collaborators are used to). Increasing the direct connection between established community of stakeholders would create more of a platform dynamic (rather than more centralized relations with UNDP in the middle), so this is a concrete challenge to be addressed further.

Status and next steps

UNDP Serbia aims to develop a more firm business model for the scaling and maintenance of the technical platform as well as continue to work on transitioning the dynamic with relevant stakeholders around the climate solutions agenda towards a more peer-to-peer type relationship.