• Published Date: 27/09/2019
  • by: UNDP

What we learn from the process of creating sustainable human development through social innovation platform in the Deep South

When we talk about the topic of innovation, people usually think about some amazing things that only happen in a place like Silicon Valley. ‘Innovation,’ or ‘Social Innovation,’ in particular is often perceived as and associated only with cutting-edge technology, public services, and social entrepreneurship. However, there is much more to it. What does it actually mean? That depends. Innovation can be anything from the new ideas, solutions, tools, methods, approaches or the processes of doing things differently, which can eventually lead to a positive systemic change in our society. This, of course, includes the work in the conflict areas where peace is absent and violence is prevalent.

In the conflict areas, ‘innovation’ or ‘socio-economic development’ and ‘peace building’ are often seen as two separated topics. However, the study of the Basque Transformation by Agirre Lehendakaria Center for Social and Political Studies (ALC) led by Gorka Espiau, social innovation specialist, indicates that

• Conflict, violence, peace-building, human rights, health, education, and sustainable human developments are all interconnected in a complex way;
• Social innovation can improve the social and economic conditions in the conflict areas;
• Building social innovation platforms in conflict areas could help create a ‘sustainable peace’ – a definition that doesn’t mean just a situation without physical violence, but also includes human security in social, economic, and cultural dimensions.


Last week, UNDP had a chance to work with Gorka and his colleague, Iziar Moreno to introduce social innovation process and explore the possibility of creating social innovation platform for socio-economic transformation with groups of local authorities, civil societies, academia, and startups from the southern border provinces of Thailand – Pattani, Yala, Narathiwat. Our journey to the South begins with curiosity to see how social innovation platform can be created as a space to generate ideas/initiatives from the local communities where people face with complexities and extreme difficulties; and how this platform can help us to interconnect multiple development issues in the area.

What happened in the workshop?


1.Sharing of lessons learned from the Basque Country Transformation under extremely challenging situations

Gorka shared his experiences and lessons learned from the Basque case, where people suffered from a profound economic collapse, the highest unemployment rate in Southern Europe, and an image associated to violent conflict. Despite these challenges, today the Basque Country holds advanced positions in healthcare, education, and income per capita. Instead of violence, it becomes known as the city of development and this renowned success is what we called ‘the Basque Transformation.’ This sharing of the Basque case helps participants learn and contextualize.

To summarize the Basque case at a glance,

• The transformation in the Basque Country happened as a result of the people’s hopeful attitudes despite worst scenarios. The sense of urgency and the feeling that no one would help them made it possible for people to start creating something better for themselves. They believed that ‘Change is Possible.’ Their decisions were connected with common values and narratives, that is, instead of being remembered as a symbol of violence and conflict, they wanted the city to be remembered as a symbol of positive change.

• There were many actions that may seem unrelated, for examples, the decision to engage with Gugenheim Foundation and to invite Frank Gehry to build a museum in Bilbao and make it a symbol of transformation (resulted in what we later called the Bilbao Effect), the establishment of Mondragon, a corporation and federation of worker cooperatives, a movement of local chefs who brought in modern and French culinary skills to mix with their local ingredients and traditional cooking technique. Many restaurants are now awarded Michelin Star, and many other activities. However, looking closer, these actions all became the interconnected mechanism that helped accelerate the social and economic development, which eventually made Euskadi ta Askatasuna (ETA) decide to lay down their weapons, eventually leading to ‘sustainable peace.’

For more details of the Basque Transformation, stay tuned and check out our next article very soon!



2. Connecting the dot – what have we done?

A group exercise allowed participants to think about ‘new things’ that they have done or has already happened in their communities, from which resulted in positive changes. Participants were tasked to comprehensively define them in 5 categories.

    1. Community actions e.g., a small-group forums in mosque, to discuss support for for orphans, led to a new idea on fund-raising. They agreed to raise funds through garbage selling instead of donations. The garbage were later sold for use as fertilizer and to raise money to help the orphans.

    2. Small-medium scale entrepreneurship e.g., the establishment of Fiin Delivery, a food and document delivery service

    3. Large scale public-private partnership e.g., public-private partnership on water management system

    4. Public service e.g., an ambulance/emergency service in a remote village to take patient to a nearby hospital.

    5. New regulation e.g., Community cremation rules which is an agreement that all community members are to help with the funeral arrangement when someone dies.

Allowing participants to think in these 5 levels helped them see a clearer picture of connections as well as slowly began to have a common vision on social innovation that it isn’t something out of reach but is something that may have already be done in the area.


“It is about how we interconnect things that are happening in the  area, and that could be hidden due to violence and conflict, and how we create alternatives.”


3. Learn to ‘Listen’

To create systemic change, the first and foremost important process is ‘listening’.

We must ‘listen’ to the untold stories, to things that sometimes may not be said out loud in order to find the reasons behind people’s actions, attitudes and behaviors, as well as their beliefs and values in life to see the narratives and how the stories are making sense collectively (collective sensemaking)

Most importantly, we must find out if people believe that ‘change is possible or not’ as the belief can directly affect the development. For instance, in some communities, despite a lot of projects, budget or government support, young people still want to leave their hometown to find jobs somewhere else because they are taught by their parents that to be successful is to be able to work in the capital city. In contrast, in the place where people think that change is possible, they might open small businesses in their community to tackle unemployment challenge.

This process allowed participants to learn the importance of deep listening to identify the challenges and opportunities and see the connection between stories.



4. Co-creation 

Social innovation builds co-creation on human-centred design processes which help us overcome the traditional top-down approach. Participants together envisioned the future of the provinces they want to see as well as co-created and co-designed social innovation ideas and solution to prototype further.

Some interesting ideas and stories from the locals:

    • Participants shared common perspective that agriculture, food and sustainable tourism are opportunities. They take pride in their unique cultural richness and natural resources. But, due to the negative representation of conflict and violence in the media, less people come to visit this area and tourism cannot be promoted. They also feel that they cannot fully utilize their resources efficiently. At the same time, the provinces also have many talented people and interesting events but these are not represented in the media as often as the negative ones.

    • People see the opportunities to export both fresh and processed fruits, especially longkong and durian, to other provinces or neighbouring countries. In Narathiwat, local people mainly depend on rubber tapping. The authorities try to encourage people to grow other kinds of vegetable and fruits for additional sources of income. However, rubber tapping is seen as a way of life inherited from their ancestor. They still want to preserve the knowledge and local wisdom amidst unstable rubber price. The questions may lie in how to achieve the balance between maintaining identity and creating new economic opportunities – and that the solutions shall truly meet the needs of people in the community.

    • Participants see the possibility of partnership and connection to other communities. They present tourist destinations in their provinces, which can easily be developed into a sustainable community-based tourism. The travel routes can also be interconnected between various districts and provinces.

    • In some areas, extreme difficulties discouraged and make people lose hope in life. It is difficult to organize creative activities and many activists also stop their action on development issues. To solve the issue, participant suggested the idea of ‘PeaceLab,’ to use technology and media to support local people’s learning about human rights and sustainable peace.



Tools used for building social innovation platform



What we learned from the process?


1.Listening and reflecting to create systemic change

The most important thing that happened this process is that we listened to people from ‘every sector.’

This workshop convened participants from different groups, including local authorities, community leaders, entrepreneurs, startups, academia and civil society organizations.

By staring with a simple question, “How would you describe Pattani/Yala/Narathiwat to people who have never heard of your provinces before?” We were able to listen to different stories and different narratives from people, though living in the same province, who have different backgrounds, experiences, interests, and professions. And in these differences we found an interesting connection; people actually feel that they are connected by taking pride in the diverse cultures and identities of the area, including Muslim, Buddhist, and Chinese. They felt that the charm of the Deep South is that, despite the diversity, they can share the rich resources and co-exist with each other as reflected during the dialogue “Religious affairs, we do separately – Social affairs, we act together”


After that, more intense questions were asked. “What do you think are the challenges in the area that people know exist but have never spoken out loud?” The discussion made us see a much broader and deeper narrative and helped us visualize the connections in social, economic, and cultural dimensions from upstream to downstream.

From the observation of the atmosphere during the dialogue, we found that by having a listening space for people to tell their stories, people are more engaged and truly feel they are part of process. Moreover, it helps them to see the connections of different narratives and to not rush to the conclusion on ‘what is the right thing to do.’ The two keys to this listening process, especially for facilitators, are 1) to be a glass half empty and 2) to not make any pre-judgement and conclusion before knowing the whole stories.

Another important process is the reflecting after listening, and the collective sensemaking by which people give meaning to their collective experiences, visualized through diagram mapping. The purpose of this step is not to find solution to the problem but allowing participants to reflect on the connection of their own stories. As facilitators, we didn’t really have to worry if our linked arrows between each post-its are going to be right or wrong because, even they are wrong it will be a tool to encourage participants to think deeper and correct them. This mapping is a joint process which all participants are responsible together and which makes sure that everyone’s stories are in the picture.



2. The transformation is stemmed from the common belief that “Change is Possible”

The listening process should not occur only once, but repeatedly, every time and in every stage of development process so that we could gain a deeper understanding of the narrative. We have to dig deep to find hidden messages in each story – whether people think that ‘change is possible or not.’

The question may sound simple, but to make sure that the answers we get come really from their hearts is not an easy task at all. Especially in the areas plagued by daily conflict and violence, people tend to undermine their belief in change, development, and living a positive life. Participants might answer ‘Yes, I think it is possible, but…’ followed by many other conditions. This shows that they do not really believe in the possibility of change


So, the further question is that if people don’t believe that change is possible, what can we do? Maybe shifting the vision to focus on a much smaller action for a tangible outcome (or even show that what they have already done is actually the change itself) could be a better starting point to show that it is possible to create change. So, the question ‘is change possible?’ is important in a way that it helps with designing and shaping process of development in a sustainable way.

To summarize, ‘Transformative Change’ can only happen when people believe that change is possible. This belief will eventually be the driving force for individuals, organizations, communities, and society.



3.  A sustainable and systemic change must come from the local people themselves.

The intense workshop on listening, sensemaking, co-creation, and prototype allows us to see a new light of interconnected opportunities such as food and culture as previously mentioned. However, for the next step as facilitator, even though it is surely easier for us to lead the process as we know a lot about tools and familiar with the approach of social innovation, we may need to step back to open up a space for the local to come up with their own conclusions and interpretation, and find solutions that are most suitable for them. That way the interpretation and solution will represent the local needs and ways of life, and not being misrepresented by the outsiders.


The process of creating transformative change that is driven not by experts but by local people is much more challenging and complex. Of course, participants might not be able to connect the dots and grasp the essentials all together at once, but it is definitely a good beginning of creating a learning process for local people to get to know new tools and methods that can be used in a sustainable peace building process. We believe that this process will eventually lead us to sustainable developments in the southern border provinces of Thailand. At the heart of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), it isn’t merely working to achieve the 17 Goals, but it is working with ‘Leaving No One Behind’ lens.

Making sure that everyone from every sector, including the most vulnerable persons, is engaged in the process may take more time and is more complex, nevertheless, it enables the paths towards sustainable development and peace building.


“Social innovation should bring people together to have common missions. As a local community, we need to understand problems that we are facing and connect them with new ideas.”  



Mapping of the output from workshop


Most importantly, this workshop of building social innovation platforms in Pattani, Yala, Narathiwat would not be possible without the passionate participation from all participants.

I would like to take this opportunity to praise the representatives from all three provinces

Local Authorities from
Pattani –  Thanam, Bannok, Nambor, Trohbon sub-districts
Yala  –  Lammai, Banrae, Bannangsata sub-districts
Narathiwat – Wang, Changpuek sub-districts.

And startups, civil society, and academia

    • CHABA Startup Group
    • Sri Yala MyHome
    • PNYLink
    • Digital4Peace
    • Saiburi Looker
    • HiGoat Company
    • MAC Pattani
    • MAC Yala
    • MAC Narathiwat
    • Hilal Ahmed Foundation
    • CSO Council of Yala
    • Nusantara Foundation
    • Thanksin University
    • Institute of Peace Studies, PSU

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  • Published Date: 24/09/2019
  • by: UNDP

Nas Daily, an influencer who campaigns against social segregation

Many of us have known today’s famous vlogger and influencer Nas Daily from his short one-minute videos and the signature send-off tagline, “That’s one minute, see you tomorrow!” Nas Daily is Nuseir Yassi, a 26-year-old Palestinian-Israeli who decided to travel the world and make one video every day not only to document his journey, but also expose his viewers to new experiences around the world. In one of Yassi’s more outstanding videos, he opens with,

“I hope this video make you angry, because it makes me angry”



This episode of Nas Daily is titled “Segregation”. When we hear the word segregation, we would think about the separation of people on the basis of race, skin color, sex, religion, and other differences, leading to inequality, discrimination and intolerance. Even as societies have advanced and connected without borders, and people’s views are more open; racial discrimination still often manifests itself in schools, societies, and communities, on and offline. What follows is nevertheless conflict.



At the beginning of his video, Nuseir Yassin talks about his childhood as an Arab who didn’t have any Jewish friends. It wasn’t because he hated Jews, but because Jews and Arabs didn’t want to live around each other. In Israel where Yassin lived, segregation exists much like in many more countries around the world. There, Jews and Arabs would live in different neighborhoods. They wouldn’t go to the same school or associate with each other in any way.

He adds that this racial segregation is no one’s fault. It’s only natural for humans to gravitate towards those with the same culture. But self-segregation from the rest of society on the basis of faith or race, he notes, is dangerous. For instance, although London has rich racial diversity; Muslims, black people and white people live separately. The Muslims have their own neighborhood and they’re surrounded by their own culture. Society is, then, broken up into parts that don’t mix with one another. And when they don’t see or understand the others, it becomes easier to hate. This is why segregation is frightening.



However, there’s a solution. Yassin shares about Singapore, a country with a diverse population of Malays, Chinese and Indians. 81% of the people live in public housing which is required by the government to fulfill a racial quota: in every 100 apartments, there are 74 Chinese families, 13 Indian households and 13 Malaysian ones. No one race occupies 100% of public housing, and this creates a good model for racial integration. Jun Xiang, a representative from Singapore’s Housing and Development Board (HDB) who is featured in the video also added,

“We have encouraged social mixing so that people of different racial groups stay together and understand the lifestyle of each other,”


This kind of social mixing enables people of different races to meet and mingle: children play together in the playground and become friends as their parents say hello to each other in the elevator. If this integration policy worked in Singapore, it can be adopted by any country in the world. Because no matter where they are, governments should find a way to encourage people of different races to live together. Not only in the policy level that should be changed, but we should also teach our children and the next generations to understand cultural diversity, and accept and respect others’ differences so that we can live harmoniously as one big society and there can be no place left for segregation.


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  • Published Date: 19/09/2019
  • by: UNDP

Youth Co:Lab Report 2017-2018

Youth Co:Lab Report 2017-2018

How important are social innovation and social entrepreneurship for youth and sustainable development?

What happened in Youth Co:Lab in the past 2 years?

What did we learn from it?

What are the ideas and solutions created and what are their impact?


Let’s find out together!

Along with the vision to “Foster Thailand’s collaborative social innovation ecosystem to accelerate the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals,” Thailand Social Innovation Platform under UNDP Thailand is organizing an initiative – Youth Co: Lab Thailand, a platform to empower youth in Thailand to create social impact and enhance livelihood through social innovation and social entrepreneurship, thus contributing to resolving existing social, economic and environmental challenges in Thai society.

This report outlines the structure, elements and tools of activities, and examines the outputs, as well as shares lesson learned from Youth Co:Lab in 2017-2018. It also catalogues young talents’ innovative solutions that were generated and accelerated during the program.


Download and read the full report here: https://www.th.undp.org/content/thailand/en/home/library/democratic_governance/youth-co-lab-thailand-report-2017-2018-.html

  • Published Date: 18/09/2019
  • by: UNDP

Data Innovation for Policy Development – Case Study


Nesta, a British innovation foundation, used data innovation to analyze the demand for labor in the UK in 41 million job advertisements. It predicted that data engineering is a skill most likely to be the best paying one around.

How could data innovation could help the Brexit crisis?

Let’s start with some background on Brexit – Britain and the EU’s chronic conundrum of four years. In the most recent turn of events, the British MPs have voted in favor of the bill introduced by the Labour Party that would extend the Brexit deadline to January 20, 2020 from the original date on October 19, 2019. The bill is meant to prevent a “no-deal Brexit” pursued by Conservative Prime Minister Boris Johnson. The subject of the UK’s no-deal departure has caused turmoil in the House of Commons and, if realized, would greatly impact people’s lives in many ways, including the workforce. One of the defining arguments behind Brexit was immigration – EU Leavers were concerned about the increasing number of immigrants who might take a fraction of British jobs.

If we look closely at the data on the UK’s workforce, there are other sets of data related to it. Advancement in innovation would be most beneficial for managing and analyzing these big chunks of data. We’re talking, more specifically, about data innovation, which plays an important role in generating, analyzing and classifying data.

What is data innovation?

Data innovation is the gathering and use of new or non-traditional data, such as data from social media, digital content and more, to help us analyze, classify and “granulate” data efficiently. It provides insights into a particular issue as well as opportunities for development. Policy-makers can apply data innovation to drive their cities towards sustainability, because when they are able to granulate essential data, they can see what is overlooked or lacking and how they can solve the problems.

The National Endowment for Science Technology and the Arts, or Nesta, a British innovation organization uses data innovation to project and analyze the post-Brexit future of the UK’s workforce. It found that there would be a shortage of certain skills and in the long run more human jobs would be done by artificial intelligence (AI). Together with policy-makers, educationists, business people, blue-collar workers and students, between 2012-2017 Nesta analyzed 41 million job advertisements in the UK and classified important skills for workers. This information will allow for better planning of recruitment, training and education, which are vital to driving the economy, as well as helping workers and students make more informed career decisions.

In Nesta’s analysis, skills are fundamental for a wide variety of jobs and they can change according to time and their market value assessment estimates. The following is the made-public classification of five skill groups with relatively high salaries and other five with relatively lower salaries.


Skill groups with relatively high salaries and rapid growth

1. Data engineering

2. IT security operations

3. Marketing research

4. Application development

5. Website development


Skill groups with relatively low salaries and low growth:

1. Shipping and warehouse operations

2. Medical administration and coding

3. General sales

4. Archiving and libraries

5. Journalism and writing


Nevertheless, these data sets are not definite. As previously mentioned, they can change over time and according to the market value assessment. Perhaps Nesta would have to present their analysis again before long. After Brexit and all the changes it entails, data innovation would remain a critical tool that helps us think, analyze and classify new sets of data, and help leaders and policy-makers achieve goals and run the country efficiently again.

Using data innovation to analyze the demand of the UK’s labour market following the Brexit crisis is only one example. There are more success cases from others that have adopted this method successfully and played an important part in the sustainable social and economic development of their countries.







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  • Published Date: 16/09/2019
  • by: UNDP

Learn to prevent violence before it ever happens


Undeniably, today’s world is covered with images of poverty, discrimination, inequality and injustice. They are the factors behind violent extremism whether at a community, national or global level. The timely important question is what does it take to prevent violent extremism? What tools or measures can stop violence-induced tragedies before they happen time and time again?



Preventing violent extremism is not averting violence with more violence. It’s about how to identify the problem as well as its root cause to collectively find a peaceful solution. The approach requires cooperation between the government, local authorities and citizens.

Although there hasn’t been a clear example of violent extremism in Thailand, the risks that can lead to it are in view. Here, the space for all people to share their opinion, dialogue and problems is quite limited. This includes various issues that still go unaddressed such as women’s limited social and political voice, the apparent gender inequality in Thai society, and inequitable access to opportunities for the excluded and underprivileged.

Getting informed or a better understanding of the issues is a good and essential first step. We had a chance to meet Asst. Prof. Dr. Janjira Sombatpoonsiri, a lecturer of international relations at the Faculty of Political Science, Thammasat University, and talked to her about preventing violent extremism in Thailand.


(photo credit : GM Magazine, January 2017 issue)

What is PVE?

Asst. Prof. Dr. Janjira: PVE or Preventing Violent Extremism is to avert violence that is the result of extreme ideologies. The violence is justified by a certain extreme ideology or thought, and targeted at someone or some group who the extremist sees as their “opposition”, or who they think “taints” their society. To prevent such violence, we need to look at the social structure and culture that shape the extremists. These people often live in social conflict, and when people face conflict on a daily basis, being in this loop of animosity, they would harbour grievance. It can be grievance over economic injustice, glaring class disparity, or religious and racial discrimination.

Some may feel that a certain policy doesn’t give them equal access to education. Others may feel similarly about other policies. There are varying reasons for the grievance. So, to create protection against extreme ideologies, we need to study and understand people’s grievances, seeing what drives them to the point of violent conflict.


PVE in the context of Thailand

Asst. Prof. Dr. Janjira: The meaning of violent extremism we understand now derives from the experience of our neighboring countries like Indonesia and the Philippines, as well as many countries in the Middle East and the West, which may not represent the same experiences that Thai people have. From the dialogue in Thailand, the definition of violent extremism here is not quite set. Each group or sector has its own understanding of the term, depending on their experience and stance in different situations of conflict. For example, when we talk to the civil society, we’ll learn that the state is at the center of it, they’re the one inflicting violence on the people and therefore is the root cause of violence. Meanwhile, from the state’s point of view, violent extremism comes from a certain group of people who commit violence against another group of people who have a different identity from them. So for us, I think the definition of violent extremism should be based on the context of Thai society. That is, we understand the conditions of violent extremism by looking at the relevant dimensions – social, political, economic, etc – rather than look at who commits violence.


Work to prevent violent extremism

Asst. Prof. Dr. Janjira: The UNDP’s work to prevent violent extremism in Thailand is divided into many units, but they can be grouped into two main areas, namely:

1. PVE in the conflict zones of Thailand’s three deep southern provinces: Various programs are set up to research the social and cultural conditions that enable or assist violent conflict. For example, a program that focuses on Thai-Muslim tolerance or a program that promotes dialogue between Buddhists and Muslims to develop good understanding between people of different faiths.

2. PVE in other areas in Thailand: research on the root causes of grievance in all regions – north, northeast, central and south – and what motivates violent extremist actions and how

UNDP also has a team of people that monitors hate speech in the country, identifying and analyzing open conversations and statements on social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook that discriminate against minority groups. Additionally, we collaborate with government agencies to support various violent extremism prevention initiatives.



Public awareness

Asst. Prof. Dr. Janjira: There still isn’t that much awareness about preventing violent extremism among the general public. Because its concept originated elsewhere, that is, violence-stricken countries or societies. So now we’re working to raise more awareness and create a better public understanding of the issue.

That being said, there are a lot more to be done and challenges to tackle. We’re going to focus on building cooperation between different sectors – from the private sector, organizations to civil society – through a strategic management approach, research, or consultation with experts in various areas in order to come up with Thailand’s approach to preventing violent extremism.


Sources :

– Asst. Prof. Dr. Janjira Sombatpoonsiri, Lecturer of International Relations, Faculty of Political Science, Thammasat University

– The United Nations and The World Bank, 2018, “Pathways for Peace: Inclusive Approach to Preventing Violent Conflict”. Executive Summary, Washington D.C. Bank. Licensed under CC BY 3.0.

– http://www.asia-pacific.undp.org/content/rbap/en/home/programmes-and-initiatives/extremelives.html?fbclid=IwAR3G9xDf15DZCyru0BvszNMAL5rcdITCcR4YdKIPrmfT8JmzxIEAaz5QFzo

– https://www.undp.org/content/undp/en/home/2030-agenda-for-sustainable-development/peace/conflict-prevention/preventing-violent-extremism.html

– https://www.undp.org/content/undp/en/home/blog/2019/new-approaches-to-preventing-violent-extremism.html

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  • Published Date: 13/09/2019
  • by: UNDP

Hate Speech = Violence – Are we unwittingly perpetuating violence?

Hate Speech = Violence

Are we unwittingly perpetuating violence?

Violence is not only the product of hostile actions, but also hurtful words. A mere set of letters can incite violence whether they be face-to-face or online. Today we’re looking into hate speech. Whether intentional and unknowingly made, hate speech can leave hurt and bitterness that is like poison, feeding further hate that time and time again spawns violence.

Hate speech is speech or communication that is meant to incite contempt or animosity between individuals or groups of people. It is often a direct attack on their identities such as race, skin color, religion, gender, occupation, political ideology or other attributes that may be used to divide, demean one’s human dignity or generate further hostility. This, unwittingly done or not, can incite violence when people refuse to listen to each other and show no tolerance.



Cyberbullying: bullying in the virtual world

The internet has become the number one place to spawn hate speech. Because anyone has access and openly express their opinion, bully others with demeaning, threatening or aggressive words. This form of bullying has increasingly become common and somewhat a norm in the digital age, from criticizing someone’s appearance on Facebook, mocking or quarrelling via status updates, to a bully’s live-streaming their taunt. What’s more, at times the media, both big and small, would capitalize on cyberbullying and give it disproportionate coverage, making certain “feuds” the talk of the town while also normalizing bullying in our society.

What’s alarming about cyberbullying is something similar to  ‘a witch-hunt’,  the actual practice of hunting down those believed to be “witches” or practising black magic in medieval Europe. Many innocent lives fell victim to witch-hunting. The act also included torture and executions. In modern usage, the term has come to signify a widespread social media phenomenon – the online attack on someone by uncovering their history, twisting stories, and find controversial facts that can besmirch, persecute and shame that person publicly.


Labelling: a careless conception of stigma

One of the reasons contributing to the violence of hate speech is nevertheless ‘Labelling’ and the use of discourse to deviate or judge ‘human’ without really knowing the cause of other person’s appearance or behaviour. Labelling doesn’t only happen at factories. Humans often identify and react to labels, as defined in the Labelling Theory, and perpetuate false ideas about a certain deviance from the norm. This kind of labelling is used to brand, divide and formulate a preconception about someone without really knowing them. A clear example would be the case of LGBTQ+ people who are judged, seen as “abnormal” and deviant from what society has established as norms. They are also believed to be unsuccessful in love and relationships, a failure in life or a clown in people’s eyes. What’s worse is that some media are still perpetuating these notions, further entrenching them as social norms.

Another example of labelling is judging people by their place of origin. For example, the idea that being from the south of Thailand means one has dark skin, that highlanders cannot enunciate well or don’t keep up with the world, or that a person from the northeast is clumsy and has a big jawline. Northeasterners are also often “derided” as “being Lao” for these stereotypes. From these instances, we can see how labelling someone without knowing them, without thinking about the implications, is something people pay little to no attention to. They fail to see that beneath all of it is hate and violence.



Climate Change: as harsh as the climate

Climate change plays a role in changing our understanding of things, in that we automatically make certain judgements based on our subjectivity. For instance, the PM 2.5 dust at the root of a clash between people living in the city and forest dwellers: the former thought the latter caused pollution because they burned the forest whereas the latter said it was the carbon emissions from factories and cars in urban areas that were to blame. Both may have forgotten that they didn’t know each other’s story.

Or in the case of plastic pollution. Those with lower income are often thought of as the biggest users of plastic because they can’t afford biodegradable materials which are more expensive, or that they never had awareness about the issue. In reality, however, everyone shares the blame for creating plastic waste. And anyone can be a part of the collective effort to tackle climate change.



Politics: violence under the surface

In his speech at the public seminar Online Hate Speech: The Pain that Needs Accountability, organized by the 8th class ISRA Institute Thai Press Development Foundation’s Mass Communication Administration for Broadcasting trainees, Dr. Mark Charoenwong, Attorney at the Office of the Attorney General in Thailand, noted that the most common type of hate speech in Thailand is violent political hate speech.

The more intense Thailand’s political landscape is, the starker the difference in ideology and the fierier the hate speech. In the time of distinct political polarization, it’s common to see people openly express their contrasting viewpoints to the point of aggression and hostility. They may take these viewpoints to the streets, and what follows can sometimes be physical violence and repercussions on society at large.

On top of hate speech is among people with differing political ideologies, this type of attack is used by our politicians and lawmakers to shoot down their oppositions on the basis of race, gender, age and appearance, whether in or outside the House of Parliament.



Case Study: Crying in Public, New York, USA

Express what you feel through an emoji.

Hate speech oftentimes springs from the feeling of resentment, conflicting opinions or anger. Words are said to hurt, incite hate, and ultimately provoke violence. Rather than suppressing them, these negative feelings should be released or remedied. Today, many countries are still short of space where people can release difficult feelings and emotions.

Kate Ray, an architect based in Greenpoint, New York City, offered her solution by creating Crying in Public (https://cryinginpublic.com), a website where people can express their emotions, sparked by everything from their surroundings, relationships, people’s slants, to life itself – and mark where they’re felt on a map of the city. Political opinions are also openly welcome on the platform, and there’s no worry about answering uncomfortable questions. To express their emotions, all users have to do is pin a corresponding emoji, for example, a fire means job termination, a peach signifies a sexual encounter, a hammer suggests an ideology or innovative idea, whereas a cat means you’ve just met, very specifically, a New York cornershop cat.

There are many more emojis that are not mentioned, like those that represent our down moments and tears. Even though these feelings are expressed virtually through emojis, the release would make us feel a lot (or a little) lighter. And this means no bottled up feelings lashing out as hate speech and a risk of violence.


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  • Published Date: 10/09/2019
  • by: UNDP

Mapping out bus routes in 17 days: Mexico City’s Experimental Lab

Too Big to Handle

Mexico City, the capital of Mexico, is a diverse place both geographically and socially. It is home to over 22 million people, and more than 50% are under 26 years old.

The city’s population has grown from 3 million to 22 million people in less than 70 years. Because of this, the government had faced many challenges and problems which sometimes are too vast and sometimes are too pressing to manage them all promptly at once. For instance, the increased year-on-year level of corruption and crime rate have lowered people’s trust in their government to merely 30%. Over the years, collaborations between the government and the civil societies for a better Mexico City have barely born any fruit, not even the effort to improve the megacity’s traffic congestion, which is ranked the fourth worst in the world.


New Change, New Approach

But in 2012, the then mayor of Mexico City, Miguel Ángel Mancera, initiated the project titled Laboratorio para la Ciudad, or the Laboratory for the City, that pledged to bring about real change to the city. Appointed to direct the project was Gabriella Gómez-Mont, an artist, film producer and former journalist.

The Laboratory for the City team comprises people of different age groups with diverse specialties and occupations, from artists, graphic designers, policy experts, data analysts, architects, computer engineers, etc. The team’s average age is only 29, also that of Mexico City’s residents.

The Laboratory for the City’s approach to tackling the city’s major problem is making good use of the collaboration between the city dwellers and the government, with the Lab as an intermediary who takes an idea to experiment on before integrating it into policy and law-making. With the support of Mayor Mancera, Gómez-Mont was able to lead her team in experimenting with different solutions and from them formulating a lot of useful data as well as introducing new public policies. On this, she noted:

“One of the most underutilized resources in a place like Mexico City is its citizen power.”



People as a Resource

One outstanding example of utilizing citizen power to solve urban problems through the Lab’s fresh ideas and creative take is Mapatón, a project aimed at organizing more than 1,500 bus routes – which transports over 70% of the city’s 22 million residents daily – that had never been documented and made available for the public. Passengers had to memorize the routes or other passengers when they travelled. For a megalopolis like Mexico City, this was a major problem that could only escalate if left unaddressed.



Mapatón is a gamification application for users to play while travelling by bus. The game asked players to collect locations, i.e. save GPS data to a database, in order to earn points. The further they travelled, the more points they would get. Pictures taken during their ride were used to map out citywide bus routes.

The project produced unexpected results: in a matter of 17 days, Mapatón was downloaded by as many as 3,600 users who helped mapped ours over 2,600 bus routes. That is 48,000 kilometres or the equivalent of a 1.4 trip around the earth!



“This is all thanks to the collaboration between the government, experts and the people.”

With civic participation, Mapatón’s approach was able to reduce budget and time – projected to be up to 400 days – that would have gone into collecting data by one team of people. The time needed was a little over two weeks for developing the application and then for bus users to help map out the routes.


Trust is the Beginning

If the success of Gabriella Gómez-Mont and the Laboratory for the City is any indicator, what we can hope for is a stronger bond of trust between the people and their government. Projects like Mapatón and many more would increase civic engagement as the government-citizen relationship becomes closer, more open and innovative. From now, problems that seem impossible to solve would no longer be so.




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  • What are The Sustainable Development Goals?
  • UNDP and TSIP’s Principles Of Innovation
  • What are The Sustainable Development Goals?


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