I worked in UNICEF Philippines for 13 years and recently joined the East Asia and the Pacific Regional Office. Working in my country had the dual advantage of serving children in a neutral non – political agency while at the same time contributing to my country’s development. It was also exciting since I “moved“ within the Office working in different sections and tasks –child protection, governance , gender, social policy, social protection, migration, urbanization and emergencies.
The last major initiative I coordinated before I left the Philippines was the Global Public Innovations Conference that happened in Manila on October 3-4, 2013. The two-day conference featured cutting edge technologies in public sector management in the following areas: Disaster Risk Reduction and Management and Environmental Development, Economic Development and Poverty Alleviation, Service Delivery, Conflict Management, IT and E-governance, and Transparency and Accountability. Our local counterpart, Galing Pook (local word for Great Place) Foundation, is part of the Global Public Innovations Network, a collaborative network of 10 public policy awards programs from around the globe established in 2002. The innovations documented and incentivized by the Network represent “significant contributions to the collective well-being of citizens and to the reduction of social, economic, political, gender, and ethnic” inequities. By sharing successful local practices through an international network and through this Conference, “the impact of each awards program extend far beyond one country’s borders.”
There are things you cannot change in a country and one of them is its geophysical characteristic. The Philippines by its sheer location makes it one of the world’s most disaster – prone countries. What we can do is mitigate the risks and reduce the vulnerabilities particularly of children. We have to innovate and share our learnings and experiences to others. We also have to learn from the innovations of other countries.
Being in the Regional Office now allows me to share my learnings from the Philippines to other countries in the Region and also allows me to learn from the many other experiences in the Region and facilitate learning exchange and technical assistance. Through South – South Cooperation and the newly created Innovations Unit in HQ, sharing of innovations goes beyond the region as well.
Check out the documentation and the presentations made of the two-day Global Public Innovations Conference and learn how a very poor municipality eliminated malnutrition and how a city frequented by disasters achieved zero casualty and so much more “out of the box” solutions to common problems. These localities proved that limited resources or other “given” factors cannot stop us from innovating, solving problems and making a difference.
Grace C. Agcaoili
Former Chief of Policy and Advocacy, UNICEF Philippines
Child Protection Specialist, UNICEF EAPRO