• Published Date: 22/10/2019
  • by: UNDP

‘Local Changemaker is the key driver to creating innovation at grassroots’ : Lesson learned from Training of Trainers for Social Innovation and Social Enterprise Localization

Written by Haidy Leung from ChangeFusion


The “Training of Trainers (TOT) for Social Innovation and Social Enterprise Localization” workshop was held by UNDP Thailand in collaboration with Tandemic and ChangeFusion on 18-20 October 2019 at Novotel Phloen Chit, Bangkok, with a total of 30 participants from all 4 regions represented at the workshop.



It originated from the Social Impact Investment and Innovative Finance Landscape Mapping report commissioned by UNDP in 2018 which aimed to identify gaps and opportunities in the Thailand ecosystem for scaling social innovation and social entrepreneurship through social impact investment. One of the key strategic areas in growing social innovation and social entrepreneurship would be through localized effort in grooming changemakers. A decentralized development, such as the setting up of local incubation hubs and entrepreneur network, would quicken the pace in turning it into a nationwide movement and propelling the achievement of SDGs at the grassroots level.

Currently, most of the activities in the field of social innovation and social entrepreneurship and their relevant support are concentrated in Bangkok. In spite of an increase in social incubation programs in Bangkok in recent years, geographic distance is still a main barrier that refrains people from other provinces from participating. Furthermore, some of the program contents may not fit local context and priorities.


Yet, there are still plenty of invaluable insights generated by the existing incubators which could be shared with potential local incubators. Hence, in preparation for this TOT workshop, UNDP has organized another workshop in August to convene incubators in Bangkok, such as ChangeFusion, School of Changemakers, SEED, Good Factory and so on to consolidate tools and insights which were later compiled into an incubator playbook and was used in the TOT workshop as a guideline on how to develop one’s own incubation program.



What was done in the 3-day TOT workshop?

Day 1:

Starting from the fundamental step, participants were guided on how to extract information and insights from the potential incubatees in order to understand their real needs and aspirations.

Day 2:

Highlighting interesting findings on Day 1, participants were further guided to design prototype of the intervention that would be used to engage the potential incubatees. Role play was also conducted to test out the prototypes developed by each team.


Day 3:

Base on the exercises done in the first 2 days, participants reflected on their own learning and how the new knowledge and insights can be applied to their plans and incubation programs.


Key takeaway and reflection by the participants


1. Incubation target can be social activist, social innovator or social enterprise or a combination of these

Participants have the liberty to choose their incubation targets base on their area of expertise. However, in case one would like to incubate, for instance social enterprise, and lack the relevant experience and knowledge, one may leverage partnership with experts such as entrepreneurs and corporate sector players to fill the gaps.

2. Tools applicable to participants’ work

A majority of the participants found the insight extraction tools particularly useful. The tools would help them understand their incubation target more thoroughly, which are mostly youths and students in their respective regions. The tools and techniques taught in the workshop also stimulated reflection among participants as to whether or not they are aligning their support initiatives to the target group’s most pressing needs.

3. Tools still need to be adapted and iterated to suit local context

In order to implement the tools in the incubator playbook effectively in local context, certain degree of adjustment and adaptation would still be needed, which should be further tested and iterated in order to find the best localized solution.


4. Potential to organize cross learning session in future

In spite of a diverse group of participants, several participants echoed that there were indeed a lot of similarities between provinces on the country border for instance Udon Thani in the Northeastern region, which is close to Laos and Vitenam, and the 3 southern most provinces including Pattani, Yala and Narathiwat, given the cultural diversity and the rich potential for cross-border collaboration.

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  • Published Date: 17/10/2019
  • by: UNDP

From Circular Economy to a business model towards sustainability

Today, there is no escaping the waste problem that comes as an alarming result of humans’ consumption behaviour. One plastic bag we unfold and carry for no longer than ten minutes takes up to 450 years to degrade. Right now the world is creating approximating 6.3 billion tons of plastic waste, and more than 79% is thrown away or landfilled in nature. The 3R’s – reduce, reuse and recycle – are what we’ve been doing to tackle the crisis but that’s addressing a problem at its effects, not the cause. And the root cause we need to look at is the producer.


For a long time, the world’s economic system has been “linear”. That is a make-use-dispose process in which raw materials mined to make a product and is thrown away after its use. This process drains resources, not to mention produces a substantial amount of waste and releases pollution into the ecosystem. The alternative now is a circular economy, an environmentally friendly make-use-return production process where used goods are kept as materials to create recycled products or further reusable items.


Besides the economic system, in order for a city to become sustainable, it needs to apply the circular principle to other areas, such as built environment (e.g. building design, infrastructure, urban planning), energy systems (alternative energy e.g. biomass fuels), urban mobility system (e.g. electric public transport), an urban bio economy (e.g. the use of alternative materials and decomposition of food waste), the local production system (e.g. adding more value to community products), circular economy legislation and policies (e.g. tax and funding), and awareness, education and research i.e. informing and educating both producers and consumers.


Thailand has begun to adapt in order to tackle the environmental crisis, like public policies that promote and support the circular economy as set out in the country’s 12th National Economic and Social Development Plan (2017-2021) which follows the framework of the 20-Year National Strategy (2017-2036) and the UN’s Sustainable Development Goal 12 on responsible consumption and production.


It is not only the public sector that can bring about change – big and small businesses, organizations and individuals can all play a role in realizing the circular economy. We can learn from Thailand Management Association (TMA)’s circular business model, which has five key principles as follows:



1. Circular Design : the principle of designing products that are long-lasting, durable and reusable. We can look at YETI who produces durable, compact, insulated drinkwares.


2. Circular Supplies : the development of alternative materials such as bio-based materials and recyclable raw materials. Circular supplies also includes using renewable energy in the manufacturing process. For instance, Nike and its Reuse-a-Shoe program which recycle materials from old athletic shoes to create Nike Grind, a material used to create courts, running tracks and playgrounds.


3. Product as a service: opting for rental or pay-for-use services instead of purchase and possession. German consumer electronics retailer Media Markt, for instance, offers customers the option to rent items for a certain period of time e.g. for a festivity or seasonal use.


4. Sharing Platform : the principle of sharing resources through platforms on- and offline. For example, Airbnb who provides a platform for homestay hosts to accommodate guests, often tourists, temporarily; or Uber who provides users a ride service through a smartphone application.


5. Resource Recovery : designing a take-back system in order that unused materials or reusable packages can re-enter the production process. The UK’s M*lkman, for instance, delivers nut milk to customers’ doors and returns to collect empty glass bottles for reuse.


The circular economy not only reduces the impact humans make on the environment and the emission of greenhouse gases, but also helps businesses to save production costs and increase their revenue with technologies that efficiently use their raw materials while creating new investment opportunities and more conscious alternatives for consumers.










#UNDP #UCxUNDP #CircularEconomy

  • Published Date: 01/10/2019
  • by: UNDP

Gorka Espiau and the learning from the Basque Country on conflict resolution

Tackle conflict through a lesson learned from the Basque Country with Gorka Espiau, a social innovation expert who believes “conflict can be reduced if we’re committed.” 

 “One of the most important question when working in conflict areas is, do you think change is possible?”

Gorka Espiau is a social innovation specialist and a Senior Fellow at the Agirre Lehendakaria Center for Social and Political Studies (ALC) who believes that conflicts happening in different regions of the world can be minimized by the combined power of people, innovation, and the conviction that change can happen. Espiau made a visit to Bangkok to share his experience at the talk hosted by UNDP Thailand on “How to Build Social Innovation Platforms in Conflict Areas: The Basque Experience”. on September 20, 2019 at TCDC Bangkok.

Situated in the north of Spain, the Basque Country was an area of conflict and violence. The Basque national groups were seeking their highest political objective of independence from Spain and France, and re-established the identity of a Basque nation. Violence grew between those with opposing ideas. There were armed conflicts and drug problems, and the GDP was lower than the level set by the EU. The region’s reputation deteriorated by the day, resulting in an economic collapse in the 1980’s and the unemployment rate that hit a historic low.

From that decade on, the Basque Country began restoring its stability started with the foundation of Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao. Designed by Canadian-American architect Frank Gehry, the modern and contemporary art museum marked the dawn of change for the formerly conflict-ridden region.

The Basque Country was committed to change and conflict management. It didn’t use innovation for socio-economic advancement ‘after’ all conflicts were resolved, but simultaneously improving the cities and establishing peace through social innovation. The social innovation in question actually isn’t a specific type of technology but a new process or inventive approach that helps address existing problems and conflict peacefully.

The approach to working in conflict areas, Gorka Espiau concluded, is driven by one key idea:

“Do you think change can happen in conflict areas? No matter how bad the situation is, if people in those areas believe they can make change happen, there’s always a way.”

We’ve learned from Basque Country’s experience that there are five levels to building social innovation platforms in conflict areas, namely:

    1. Community Action
    2. Small / Medium Scale Projects
    3. Large Scale Projects
    4. New Services
    5. New Regulations

All five levels of action need to be taken in complementarily and integratively through listening. Listening is a process that needs to take place in conflict areas. It can mean providing a creative platform for people to share their stories and issues they face, come together to find an opportunity for change by talking and observing, because asking and listening is the way towards understanding; the platform can also gather opposing ideas in order to understand their reasons and motives (the process is called sense making), finding out what each person values, what they believe, and what drives them, and how they make sense collectively. Then, relevant actors work together (co-creation) to analyze the problems, inform others, create advocacy tools and learning space, and come up with an innovation, ideas or a new approach based on the needs of the local community, before creating a prototype of interconnected projects to experiment and verify results together. This would lead to systemic change through scaling, which not only raises the bar at the project level but also at the process level.

Change in Basque Country happened as a result of various actions, from the revival of the Basque language, a native tongue that was dying but the grounds of all of Basque civilization, to the resurgence of Basque cuisine – the Basque people, group of chefs in particular,  wanted to call attention to their local ingredients so they jumpstarted the food industry by incorporating the French techniques with traditional ways, and opening restaurants and cooking schools where students can start working at the restaurants upon the completion of their course. Today, Basque cuisine is well-known around the world, particularly pintxos and tapas. It also gave the region the global record of the most number of Michelin star restaurants per square meter.

Next is empowering the labor sector. When the Basque economy collapsed, workers were undoubtedly greatly impacted. Then came the establishment of Mondragon, a corporation and federation of worker cooperatives that support workers in numerous ways. The Basque’s people also influenced policy change for income equality, expanding seaports, underground train and airport constructions, as well as road and railroad maintenance. All this has enabled Basque Country to connect to the outside world and attract investors, which in turn increase employment rate. Moreover, the development also focused on workers with disabilities as one of the ways to improve social inequality. It created a process that supports these workers and organized trainings for them on skills that meet market demands. In addition, Basque Country has been committed to promoting the right to education to guarantee equal access and capacity for all youths. These are only a few instances of how the process of social innovation was used in the development, which evidently and effectively minimized conflict in the region.

The experience of the Basque Country shows that peace and development can be achieved without resolving all conflicts beforehand. Building peace can be completed hand in hand with social and economic development and addressing disparity. Citizens were informed and saw the collective goals that would take them forward. Finally, the region was able to rebuild its reputation and garnered worldwide interest in its success stories.

Using social innovation to affect change and resolving conflict at the same time has led Basque Country to hold a leading position in public health and education, and achieve GDP growth, an export rate of domestic products at 75% as well as one of the highest per capita income levels in Europe.

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There are many innovation platforms all over the world. What makes Thailand Social Innovation Platform unique is that we have created a Thai platform fully dedicated to the SDGs, where social innovators in Thailand can access a unique eco system of entrepreneurs, corporations, start-ups, universities, foundations, non-profits, investors, etc. This platform thus seeks to strengthen the social innovation ecosystem in Thailand in order to better be able to achieve the SDGs. Even though a lot of great work within the field of social innovation in Thailand is already happening, the area lacks a central organizing entity that can successfully engage and unify the disparate social innovation initiatives taking place in the country.

This innovation platform guides you through innovative projects in Thailand, which address the SDGs. It furthermore presents how these projects are addressing the SDGs.

Aside from mapping cutting-edge innovation in Thailand, this platform aims to help businesses, entrepreneurs, governments, students, universities, investors and others to connect with new partners, projects and markets to foster more partnerships for the SDGs and a greener and fairer world by 2030.

The ultimate goal of the platform is to create a space for people and businesses in Thailand with an interest in social innovation to visit on a regular basis whether they are looking for inspiration, new partnerships, ideas for school projects, or something else.

We are constantly on the lookout for more outstanding social innovation projects in Thailand. Please help us out and submit your own or your favorite solutions here

Read more

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


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