BIG IDEAS Series

Tech Innovation for Adolescents and Youth: Big Idea, Big Success?

ONLINE: On 20 June 2023, UNU will host a BIG IDEAS Dialogue with Eiko Narita, Chief of the UNFPA Representation Office in Tokyo.

On 20 June 2023, UNU will host “Tech Innovation for Adolescents and Youth: Big Idea, Big Success?”, a BIG IDEAS Dialogue with Eiko Narita, Chief of the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) Representation Office in Tokyo. This event will be held via Zoom webinar at 18:00 JST (UTC+9). 

UNFPA is using the World Food Programme's (WFP) “Building Blocks” blockchain application – a network that enables tracking, coordination, and delivery of multiple types of assistance, including cash, food, water and sanitation, medicine and more. UNFPA and WFP are partnering to not only provide aid packages to adolescent girls and women, but also to promote behaviour change through aid distribution. It is an innovation effort that UNFPA in Bangladesh has undertaken since 2021. 

The technology provides the beneficiary with a kind of “supermarket” experience where, through an app, the shopkeeper checks the beneficiaries' entitlements for each product category, selects the products and their quantities, and checks out. Therefore, a girl can pick up her sanitary napkins and nutritious food at the local WFP registered store — all at once, close to her home, and on her own time.

Distribution of sanitary napkins in the urban slum of Dhaka has been successfully conducted through the pilot. However, what is behind that innovation? What is success? With big ideas come not just success, but big risks and challenges.

Ms Narita will join UNU Senior Vice-Rector Sawako Shirahase to discuss how the United Nations can be nimble and authentic in facing challenges to 'fail forward', and what that looks like in the field. This discussion will explore the journey that has happened in some of Dhaka, Bangladesh's largest slums — Bashantek and Duaripara. 

Please note this event will be in English; Japanese interpretation will not be provided. Advance registration by 19 June is required. Registrants will receive an email on the day of the event with a link to attend via Zoom webinar. 

About the Speaker

Ms Eiko Narita has experience working as Deputy Representative of UNFPA in Bangladesh since 2018. From 2021 November to 2022 June, she served as the interim Representative of UNFPA Bangladesh. Prior to this post she assumed the role of Programme Specialist in the UNFPA Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific (2014–2018).

Eiko has also served as the Deputy Representative of UNFPA Yemen (2012–2014), where she chaired the UN Gender Working Group and Gender Based Violence sub-cluster under the Inter-agency Standing Committee in emergency setting. She was actively involved in supporting Yemen’s transitional process including the National Dialogue Conference and the constitution development process, advocating for key gender issues related to the UNFPA mandate.

She started her UN career working as a consultant for the UNDESA project office (2003–2005) on community-based disaster risk reduction and later with the UNDP Tokyo office (2005–2006). Subsequently, she spent much of her UN career working in the UN Resident Coordinator Office in Fiji (2006–2008) and Laos (2009–2011). Between Fiji and Laos, Eiko worked with UNDOCO (2008–2009) as a monitoring and evaluation (M&E) policy specialist supporting development of UNDAF M&E guidelines.

Eiko holds a PhD in Governance from Chiba University in Japan, a Master’s degree in Urban Planning from Harvard University and a Bachelor’s degree in City and Regional Planning from Cornell University.

About the series

The BIG IDEAS: SDGs Dialogue Series introduces the people, projects, and organisations behind shared efforts to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Each event features leading representatives and researchers from international organisations, UN agencies, and UNU institutes to stimulate discussion on sustainable development issues and initiatives. The events provide a unique opportunity for young researchers, graduate students, and civil society to become more familiar with SDG-related topics, ask questions, and learn how they can contribute to local and global SDG progress.

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