Our Perspective

Positive Deviance – identifying existing solutions, making use of local wisdom

26 Apr 2017

image There are certain individuals and groups in every community who employ ‘deviant’ but successful strategies to solve certain problems more effectively than their peers in the same circumstances.

What if the solutions to many long-entrenched and complex development problems did not require major resources from outside but could be found, funded and implemented by local communities themselves? Could the untypical but successful behaviour of certain individuals or groups be the key to finding solutions to some of these problems? These questions were recently addressed at a series of Positive Deviance workshops organized by UNDP in Skopje to help build the capacities of CSOs and local municipalities directly involved in managing the migrant crisis and its aftermath. The workshops aimed at enabling the participants to apply an alternative approach, called Positive Deviance, to initiate bottom-up changes through simple and sustainable solutions to problems associated with the massive influx of migrants and refugees over the past two years. ‘Positive Deviance’ is an approach to behavioural and social change based on the premise that there are certain individuals and groups in every community who employ ‘deviant’ but successful strategies to solve certain problems more effectively than their peers in the same circumstances. The approach was first developed in the 1990s by Jerry and Monique Sternin while they were working for Save the Children to address the problem of malnutrition in Vietnam. They  Read More

Hacking climate change: “Skopje Green Route” reloaded coming soon

05 Jun 2015


For two days in June, Macedonians will have the chance to take part in the country’s first ever climate change hackathon—a nationwide competition designed to tap into the talents of budding programmers to come up with new ideas for upgrading the Skopje Green Route app. The winning idea will be awarded US $1,000, while awards for second and third place will be $750 and $500 respectively. The Skopje Green Route app was first launched last year, providing commuters with all the information needed to plan the quickest, cheapest, and most environmentally friendly routes to destinations in the capital. The app makes use of Google Transit—a feature of Google Maps that helps users plan their trips on public transport by calculating routes and transit times and providing directions to bus stops. As well as giving information about bus routes and timetables, the app indicates bicycle rental-points and parking places throughout the city. In addition, it also gives real-time information on traffic congestion and air pollution, using data on carbon emissions to help commuters make the greenest choice possible in planning their journeys. The Skopje Green Routes project was recently honoured as one of the top seven ‘projects to watch’ in a global  Read More

From sun solutions to climate cafés: Nationwide campaign taps into local talent

14 Apr 2015

image Famous TV presenter, Marko Novevski walks through the centre of Skopje using a fan to clean the air of dust.

While international conventions and national policies play a critical role in addressing the challenges of climate change, anyone involved in development issues knows how great contributions made by talented people ‘on the ground’ can be. To tap into this pool of talent, UNDP launched a nationwide campaign on December 2014, inviting members of the public to submit their own innovative proposals for tackling climate change. Over 130 ideas have now been received and ten of the best were shortlisted for further development. The teams behind these ideas will receive expert technical advice and assistance in realizing their proposals as part of a Climate Change Innovation Camp in Skopje on 17-19 April. It is here they will get the chance to compete for a US $10,000 prize to develop their idea into a prototype. Let's meet the finalists! Thinking on their feet - Aleksandar Lazovski’s team will be working on ways to use shoes and bikes as means of generating electricity to charge phones, laptops and other mobile devices. They hope these products will start a new wave of ideas for using everyday objects to generate energy. Working with wheels - Bobi Zrncev’s team are going to be designing a new, greener  Read More

Getting Ahead of the Game: Using Foresight to Address Complex Water-Related Challenges in the Strumica River Basin

11 Feb 2015

image Monospitovo wetlands, Strumica River Basin (Photo: UNDP/ Ljubomir Stefanov)

The successes achieved in UNDP’s major ongoing project to restore the ecosystem of the Prespa Lake Basin are well known and clear for all to see—in the way that local farmers have shifted to more sustainable practices, in the construction of modern water treatment facilities, in Prespa’s first monitoring station, in the region’s first composting plant, in heightened local awareness of the importance of preserving the health of waterbodies… the list goes on and keeps growing as the project proceeds. But the foundation for the success of the Prespa project is more complex than meets the eye. The sound basis on which all these interlinked efforts have been developed and implemented lies in a detailed set of principles and measures elaborated in the country’s first-ever Watershed Management Plan developed in accordance with the EU Water Framework Directive.   By adopting this Directive’s basic principles, the planning and implementation efforts for the Prespa Lake Watershed are aligned with the concept of Integrated Water Resources Management—an  approach that has emerged to meet the ever growing complexity and importance of preventing the degradation of global water resources. Behind this concept is the realization that traditional centralized approaches to managing water resources have proven inadequate  Read More

My Municipality – A Super Tool for Local Development Initiatives

06 Feb 2015


Over 6,500 citizens have already taken up a new opportunity to communicate their top priorities for local development to decision-makers through an innovative data-gathering system called My Municipality. Through the installation of highly user-friendly touchscreens and an interactive website (www.moja-opstina.mk) the My Municipality project has enabled citizens in the four pilot municipalities of Tetovo, Kumanovo, Prilep and Shuto Orizari to identify—with just a few clicks—the three local development issues and policies most important to themselves and their families. The tool has helped the municipalities and UNDP to gather valuable and accurate data about people’s needs and priorities, including the changing trends in the needs of the different groups in the population. All this data provides an excellent basis for policy-makers to make better informed decisions at local level, and in this way local government actions and development projects will truly reflect the needs of local people. In December last year, only six months after the project started, we began funding and helping to implement small-scale projects based on the priorities identified in the pilot municipalities. ·       In Kumanovo, citizens have prioritized the need to improve opportunities for entrepreneurship and business. A new project has enabled twenty Roma men and women to  Read More

Twitter 4 #DRR

18 Jun 2014


As the recent devastation wrought by flooding in Serbia and Bosnia and Herzegovina has shown, social media has a vital role to play in spreading information about natural and human-made disasters.   Twitter is a great example of a platform that can deliver information to a vast number of people at rapid speed.  So Igor Miskovski and I decided to run an initial analysis of tweets in the country from 2011–2013  to find out what percentage of tweets were related to Disaster Risk Reduction (or what we call DRR in UN-speak). There are estimated to be some 20,000 – 25,000 Twitter users in the country, of which approximately 15,000 can be identified through a number of online applications. Analysis of DRR-related tweets provided a very interesting insight: Macedonian Twitter users tweet most on Mondays and least on Saturdays, suggesting that tweeting is an activity that people consider part of their working week. Twitter activity increases during work hours from 08:00 till 16:00, reaching saturation from 16:00 till 18:00. After 18:00 it starts to grow again, reaching a peak at 23:00. But even Twitter users need some rest: from 00:00 to 08:00 there is an exponential drop. Most Twitter users are in  Read More

Greenhouse gas inventory: Data that makes a difference

28 Jun 2013

image The new national greenhouse gas inventory was launched in a public bus.

We just launched a brand new inventory of national greenhouse gas emissions developed to help fYR Macedonia meeting the requirements of the International Convention on Climate Change. We’re all convinced that the information in this database will be valuable for policy-makers in their efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and mitigate the effects of climate change. The level of data accuracy has significantly improved and for the first time many new sectors have been included. Aviation is one of the new sectors included, with data on emissions at a level of detail and accuracy only achieved by a few developed countries in the world!Some of the most interesting findings about greenhouse gas emissions from other sectors: -Approximately 74 percent of greenhouse gases are emitted by the energy sector. Most of these emissions come from the use of lignite to produce electricity. - Most emissions from industry originate from the processing of mineral and metal products, with the cement industry and the production of ferroalloys responsible for over 90 percent of total emissions. -Emissions from the waste sector account for seven percent of total national emissions. The average share of the waste sector in national emissions in developed countries is two to  Read More

Domestic violence: Breaking down the cultural barriers

29 May 2013


Until I worked for UNDP, I was not aware that there were such rigid cultural barriers in this country when it comes to the issue of domestic violence. When I joined UNDP in 2011, I was assigned the task of monitoring a large-scale project on domestic violence—a joint project involving a number of United Nations agencies and with funding of 2.5 million dollars. Working daily on the issue of domestic violence, I soon came to realize just how deeply the phenomenon is rooted in our society and how much it remains hidden, particularly in rural areas. Over the past five years, the United Nations has been working closely with national institutions and civil society organizations to address the problem of domestic violence in the country. Good news at the policy level: the country’s signed the Council of Europe’s Convention on Preventing and Combating Violence against Women – one of the first countries in Europe to sign the Convention. Domestic violence is considered to be one of the most serious forms of violations of human rights, yet strong cultural barriers still exist in relation to this issue: When we developed a documentary in 2012 to increase awareness about reporting domestic violence, I  Read More

Social marketing: Promoting social values

02 May 2013

image Drawing by Marina Danev for the “Saving energy” campaign

What impresses me most about the whole concept of social marketing is how it applies the tried-and-tested techniques of commercial marketing to ‘sell’ social values in ways that have the potential to change our behaviour and improve society as a whole. When you think about it, social marketing is not so different from other efforts to influence public behaviour.People have different needs, of course, and form different groups in the community to resolve common issues that affect their lives. In short, they initiate different forms of association and make efforts to influence our behaviour: the same aim as that of social marketing campaigns. Adopting a social marketing approach, we recently succeeded in ‘selling’ the benefits of saving energy to 1,600 young people from seven different municipalities (Gevgelija, Valandovo, Bogdanci, Kocani, Probistip, Kicevo and Oslomej ) who ‘bought’ into the idea of energy efficiency. To ensure an effective social marketing campaign, we enlisted the help of the very people we were marketing to: young people. Why? Because people are often more receptive to messages coming from people they perceive as their peers.The relevant stakeholders—the municipal administration, teachers and principals and local NGOs, together with young people – agreed on the best way  Read More

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