What we do
The SDG challenges facing Armenia are complex and intertwined, and therefore call for new approaches, new methodologies and possibly new types of institutions to provide “out of the box” solutions.
Innovative Solutions for SDG Implementation in Armenia project is funded by the Russian Federation and implemented by Armenia National SDG Innovation Lab, in close partnership with the Government of Armenia during 2018-2020.
Armenia National SDG Innovation Lab was launched in November 2017, in a room full of policy-makers and development practitioners in the Armenian capital of Yerevan. It was for the first time that the state in cooperation with the United Nations created an innovation platform to support the SDGs implementation at country level and test the SDGs country support platform model foreseen by UNDP’s new Strategic Plan 2018-2021 (see the SDG Lab website- http://sdginnovationlab.am/).
The objective of the project is to bring experimentation and evidence into policy-making to build a more sustainable growth path of Armenia and beyond. It provides evidence-based recommendations and prototypes scalable practical development solutions with the use of data and behavioral science.
The project budget is $1,022,960 out of which $ 1 mln is acquired from Russian Federation and 22,960$ from Government of Sweden.
At the heart of the Lab lies its methodology, which is mainly focused on data innovation and behavioural insights.
The Lab works on two main areas of data and statistics: utilization of Big Data sources for evidence-based policy-making, and the development of a real-time platform for measuring and visualising implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals in Armenia.
One of the key methodologies of the Armenia National SDG Lab integrates findings from psychology, sociology, law and neuroscience into economics to generate insights about the behaviour of individuals and the choices they make. Behavioral Science can provide policymakers with the structured analytical framework to experiment and assess the effectiveness of policy options, which is critical to applying evidence-based policy-making.
To instill “culture of experimentation” in public services and build a sustainable development path in Armenia, the Lab integrates and applies the following Service Lines:
Public Policy Innovation - focuses on the most critical sectors of public policy and administration, through research and development of recommendations to the Government of Armenia.
Capacity Building - service line focuses on the development innovation capacity in the Lab’s most advanced public policy tools such as behavioral science and data analytics among partner institutions. Its aim is to create a network of SDG Champions, spread across sectors, to be leading advocates of the Agenda 2030. This service line of the Lab is interwoven with all the rest, as it learns from them, while at the same time supports them by forming in-country capacity to build upon and guarantee the sustainability of the adopted approaches.
Innovative Financing Tools service line is responsible for introducing non-traditional financing mechanisms to gradually shift from funding to financing for development. This will include identifying areas and sectors where new sources of financing are needed, designing and testing new instruments capable of engaging public and private capital in the drive to meet the SDGs; and providing policy and regulatory recommendations to facilitate the implementation of such instruments.
Within the framework of Behavioral experimentations output, it is expected to implement several projects, including an experiment in Preventive Healthcare which will increase the cervical cancer screening take-up rates among women and an experiment which will help to increase tax compliance through participatory budgeting.
It is expected to create several tools and carry out experiments within the Data Analytics output. One of the key projects is the creation of an AI-powered tool, which will help to listen closely to the tourist and based on their sentiments create a more tourist-centered policy. Other expected projects include supporting RA National Tax Service with tax evasion detection and development of a real-time platform for measuring and visualising implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals in Armenia.
Capacity building activities envisage capacity building pilot programs on behavioral Experimentation and Data Analytics for SDG Champion Institutions after their needs’ assessment. Simultaneously, the core Lab team will develop its internal capacity based on Lab’s methodologies.
Some results so far
With several projects already in the pipeline and many more at concept stage ready to be implemented, below is a sneak peek of some of the current projects of the Lab:
· Travelinsights.ai: a web-based sentiment analysis platform to inform policy makers on tourist sentiments (online travel blogs, social media) about the Republic of Armenia. By shedding light on the sources of tourist satisfaction and dissatisfaction, the tool aims to support the development of the tourism sector in Armenia.
· Boosting preventive healthcare culture: Using low-cost behavioral interventions that increase the take-up rate for cervical cancer screening programs among women in the Republic of Armenia.
· “Armenia-EU CEPA and Georgia-AA: Commitments and Reforms in the Context of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG)” report which is mapping Armenia’s and Georgia’s reform priorities regarding EU approximation and the SDGs
The platform approach that we have adopted calls for strong and strategic partnerships both internationally and locally to drive the achievement of SDGs. We have already partnered with renown organizations such as the Behavioural Insights team, UN Global Pulse, and Unleash.
On the local level we are working with AGBU, Dasaran, and Kolba Lab. We are working closely with UNDP’s ImpactAIM Venture Accelerator, serving as an implementation platform for the Lab and designing tailor made social enterprise incubation and acceleration programs based on the priority SDG challenges as identified by the Lab. The Lab in its turn provides a policy interface to address challenges in the Armenian impact investment ecosystem.
We are closely collaborating with several academic institutions such as the American University of Armenia, Skolkovo School of Management and Higher School of Economics Moscow. Many new partnerships are now in the making.