Distinguished Guests from the Government, Diplomatic Corps, Business community, Civil society organisations…
Ladies and Gentlemen, Good morning!
It is an honor to be here today. Thank you, Toastmasters International and the organizers, for inviting me to speak at this esteemed gathering of innovators, leaders and change makers.
We live in a world that is characterized by volatility, uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity, a world that is rapidly evolving and constantly presenting us with new challenges and opportunities. In such a dynamic environment, sensible leaders and organizations cannot be comfortable doing business as usual. It becomes imperative for organizations and their leaders to embrace innovation as a means of thriving and achieving sustainable success.
Innovation has always been the driving force behind human progress. It has shaped our societies, transformed industries, and improved the lives of people around the globe. Today, however, innovation is not just a choice, it is the way of life. Organizations that fail to innovate risk falling behind, becoming irrelevant, or even disappearing. This reality applies to governments, business, civil sector, the whole society.
It applies to our quest to reach the SDGs, too.
In the corporate landscape, innovation is not limited to the development of groundbreaking products or services. It encompasses a mindset that encourages creative thinking, embraces change, and fosters a culture of continuous improvement. It is about challenging the status quo, pushing boundaries, and exploring new possibilities.
Determined leadership is required to unlock the potential that lies in embracing innovation. Corporate leaders need to create an environment that encourages innovation and identifies the opportunities that come with it. Corporate leaders can foster innovation in tackling global challenges like climate change, food security, health, respect for human rights. Corporate leaders can commit resources and find solutions to achieve global changes required to reach the SDGs.
Embracing innovation has several advantages in today's world. Firstly, it allows organizations to adapt swiftly to changing market conditions. By fostering a culture of innovation, organizations can proactively anticipate and respond to disruptions, staying ahead of the curve. This agility becomes crucial in an environment where yesterday's solutions may no longer be effective today.
Secondly, innovation enhances an organization's resilience. By constantly seeking new ideas, approaches, and technologies, organizations can diversify their revenue streams, reduce dependence on a single product or market, and build a more robust business model. In a world where risks are unpredictable, resilience is the key to survival.
Furthermore, innovation drives competitiveness. In an interconnected global economy, organizations are not only competing with local rivals but also face competition from international players. By fostering a culture of innovation, companies can differentiate themselves, develop unique value propositions, and gain a competitive edge in the marketplace.
Innovation has the power to tackle some of the world's most pressing challenges. From climate change and resource scarcity to social inequality and healthcare access, innovation holds the potential to create transformative solutions. By leveraging their expertise, resources, and networks, organizations can contribute to building a more sustainable, inclusive, and equitable future for all.
Statistics also speak for themselves. Companies that prioritize innovation generate 80% of their revenue from products and services that didn't exist 5 years ago. Similarly, studies show that innovation is the main driver of growth for companies, surpassing even market expansion and cost reduction.
In the development and humanitarian field, innovation has transformed the way we approach some of the world's most pressing challenges. For example, the use of blockchain technology in some countries has enabled refugees to receive secure digital identities, allowing them to access essential services like healthcare, education, and financial assistance. Similarly, the use of artificial intelligence has revolutionized disaster response, enabling us to deploy resources faster and more effectively and provide aid to those who need it.
Innovative approaches have led to significant progress in achieving the SDGs. The use of mobile technology in healthcare has enabled remote diagnosis and treatment, reducing maternal and infant mortality rates in developing countries. Similarly, the use of renewable energy technologies has increased access to clean energy in rural areas, improving the health and well-being of millions of people.
Almost all UN agencies in Tanzania have rooted innovation in the way they work and are ‘walking the talk’ through ongoing innovation initiatives. One example is the UNDP's "Accelerator Labs," which aims to accelerate progress towards the SDGs through experimenting, learning, and adapting. UNDP’s FUNGUO Programme deploys innovative approaches to support youth- and women-led enterprises in creating and scaling up decent jobs for young people. UNICEF and WFP TZ both have innovation hubs and fairs to keep improving their work and services they provide. They all bring together diverse teams of experts from different sectors to co-create and test innovative solutions to complex development challenges.
So, how do we foster innovation in our organizations? It starts with leaders creating an environment that nurtures creativity, encourages risk-taking, and rewards experimentation. We also need to provide our teams with the necessary tools and resources and to foster the culture of learning and adapting.
Collaboration is an essential element in driving innovation. By fostering cross-functional collaboration, breaking down silos, and encouraging diverse perspectives, we can unlock new insights and generate breakthrough ideas. Collaboration not only fosters innovation within our organizations but also enables partnerships and alliances that can amplify our impact on a global scale. No single organization can solve the world's most pressing challenges alone. It requires partnerships and collaboration across sectors and industries. The UN has long recognized the importance of partnerships, and we work closely with governments, civil society organizations, the private sector, academia, to achieve our goals.
Let me conclude by underlining that innovation is critical to addressing the world's most pressing challenges and for creating a brighter, more sustainable future for all. It's about more than just technology; it's about embracing new ideas, fostering a culture of creativity, learning from failures, and collaborating across sectors and industries.