Launched in 2011, Southern Innovator’s first issue on mobile phones and information technology proved highly influential, profiling the work of a new generation of innovators. It has been cited in books, papers and strategic plans. The third issue focused on agribusiness and food security, including the phenomenon of ‘gastrodiplomacy’.
Astute negotiation skills have been required to see through complex, multi-partner projects, or to see through difficult transitions (in particular digital). While working for the United Nations in Mongolia (1997-1999), I led negotiations on three Memoranda of Understanding with the Government of Mongolia: Youth, Food Security and Nutrition and Human Rights (Blue Sky Bulletin).
As head of theUNDP Mongolia Communications Office(1997-1999), I was at the centre of a fast-expanding UN mission in the midst of a major crisis (called “one of the biggest peacetime economic collapses ever”, Mongolia’s Economic Reforms: Background, Content and Prospects, Richard Pomfret, University of Adelaide, 1994). Everything we did required solid negotiation skills that were sensitive to the culture and understood how to get things done in that context. People were under a great deal of pressure and the times were characterized as “volatile ones for Mongolia, with revolving door governments, the assassination of a minister, emerging corruption, a banking scandal, in-fighting within the ruling Democratic Coalition, frequent paralysis within the Parliament, and disputes over the Constitution. Economically, the period was unstable and rife with controversies.”Mongolia in 1998 and 1999: Past, Present, and Future at the New Millenniumby Sheldon R. Severinghaus, Asian Survey, Vol. 40, No. 1, A Survey of Asia in 1999 (Jan. – Feb., 2000). pp. 130-139 (Publisher: University of California).
Award-winning, this work was called a “role model” for the wider UN and country offices.
While heading a multi-institutional major project for the UK’s National Health Service (2001-2003) under the Modernisation Plan, I had to daily negotiate with colleagues and staff across professions, institutions and with senior managers and executives. Introducing new ways of doing things requires a fineness of touch and a strategic mind to see how small steps eventually achieve goals. Award-winning, this work was called one of the “three most admired websites in the UK public and voluntary sectors”, and a UK Government assessment called the overallGOSH Child Health Web Portala role model for the NHS.
Since 2007, I have been working on media products for theUnited Nations Office for South-South Cooperation(UNOSSC). This has required contacting and networking with people across the global South. The goal was to raise the profile of South-South cooperation in the UN system and the profile of the growing numbers of innovators across the global South resulting from the rapid expansion of mobile and information technologies, and in turn transform the UN’s strategic and funding priorities. This was successful and acknowledged in the Strategic Plan for UNDP 2014-2017and its firstUNDP Youth Strategy 2014-2017.