Ideathon virtual winners ceremony group picture

The COVID-19 pandemic has challenged the way the public sector functions. We strive to be efficient and effective, by optimizing virtual communication, staff engagement and perhaps more creative and dynamic performance management. In the Arab Region, the public sector presents a large share of the economy either directly or through state-owned enterprises, especially in the oil and gas industry. In times of crisis such as COVID-19 pandemic and its economic and social repercussions, public sector efficiency matters more than ever. The public sector has been playing a critical role in crisis responses, but also continue to be evolving its functions in ways that we never perhaps imagined in the post-pandemic and new normal setting.Video link

In this joint UNDP x Government of Kuwait x World Bank initiative for Arab States, we challenged participants with key questions like what are the challenges affecting productivity and ability to function effectively in the public sector? What are the innovative ideas that could overcome challenges and foster effectiveness and efficiency of the public sector?

This Regional Ideathon attracted 185 teams consisting of 727 members from 18 Arab countries registered at the initiation stage. The screening process concluded that 144 teams are qualified to proceed to the Ideathon. The qualified teams submitted 76 innovative proposals in various sectors like education, development and government services automation, and environment and food security. Based on the evaluation grid, 23 proposals reached the semi-final stage, the Teams from Bahrain (1st), Yemen (2nd), and Lebanon (3rd) were awarded. This regional initiative does not stop at the awarding stage, and we are currently working on knowledge product analyzing and capturing 23 quality ideas we solicited from this Regional Ideathon.

This initiative benefitted expertise and support from senior government leaders from Kuwait, Jordan, Libya, Egypt, Morocco, Palestine and Lebanon who shared their challenging experiences in COVID19-related challenges with Ideathon participating teams to enrich their design thinking process. A number of seasoned coaches on Design Thinking from Kuwait, Bahrain, KSA, UAE, Tunisia, Lebanon, Syria, Egypt, Palestine, Libya Oman, US, UK and Canada volunteered to supported this initiative day and night, along with additional resources and support made available by UNDP Saudi Arabia and UNDP Bahrain offices.

The award ceremony was opened by the Secretary General, the Supreme Council for Planning and Development, the Government of Kuwait, Mr. Khaled Abdul Shafi, the Director of UNDP Regional Hub, and Mr. Issam Abousleiman, the Regional Director for GCC Countries, The World Bank. This regional initiative is a "Q8 hacks the Crisis https://www.q8vscovid19.org/ series" organized by UNDP Kuwait.

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