Benjamin Kumpf leads the Innovation Facility of the UN Development Programme (UNDP) in New York. Benjamin manages UNDP’s Innovation Fund, a pooled funding vehicle created to support and scale innovations that address challenges related to poverty, governance, climate change and gender equality across the globe. Benjamin advises internal and external clients on emerging approaches such as behavioral insights, user-centered design, and real-time information systems.
We sat down with him ahead of his presentation at the Strategic Planning Innovation Summit, which takes place in San Francisco this May 22-23.
How is internal innovation impacting your strategic planning?
The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) is preparing in close consultation with its Executive Board its new Strategic Plan for 2018 – 2021. Innovation is heavily featured in the early drafts as a key strategy on how to achieve the ambitious goals of this plan and globally, the Sustainable Development Goals. Based on more than 150 experiments in over 75 countries conducted between 2014 and 2016, the UNDP Innovation Facility is making a business case for evidence-base experimentation that informs the programmatic approach of the organization and introduces iterative behavioral design principles to the toolbox of UNDP.
How have your strategic planning priorities changed over the past three years?
For UNDP and other multinationals, the global Agenda 2030 and the Sustainable Development Goals that were endorsed by all UN Member States in 2015, are informing the strategic directions and goal setting. To inform this global agenda, UNDP worked with partners to source the voices of more than 9 million people across the globe. The crowdsources priorities informed the global agenda and in turn the strategic planning of UNDP.
Another relevant component is the clear lack of funding through Overseas Development Assistance (ODA) to achieve these goals. Therefore UNDP is investing heavily in unlocking new forms of funding for development.
Why do you believe Corporate Social Responsibility is becoming more important to organizations?
The depletion of natural resources, unsustainable consumption patterns, climate change and also the effects of political instability have global reach and are becoming more and more tangible for people in the global North. As a consequence, more and more consumers turn to products and services that have clear sustainability and social good components.
What major trends do you believe will affect strategic planning objectives in the next year?
For UNDP, these are 1.) Increased volatility – sharp upswings and downswings – are more likely; 2) Uptick in armed conflicts – we are witnessing the worst humanitarian crisis since 1945; 3) Potential global roll-back on efforts to mitigate the effects of climate change; 4) A growing number of countries graduating to middle-income status but largely with insufficient structural changes and increasing inequalities.