The Department of Community Development (DCD) in Abu Dhabi has prepared a research paper entitled "Unlocking the potential of social innovation." The paper is a prelude to the social innovation dialogue series "Social Challenges, Real Effects", which the DCD will organize throughout the year with the aim of fostering innovation within the Emirati society.
Dr. Layla Alhyas, Acting Executive Director of the DCD Social Monitoring and Innovation Sector, explained that the social innovation team has written a qualitative research paper that aims to highlight the role of social innovation as an important tool for addressing the various social challenges in society. She noted that the paper also underlines the role social innovation plays in identifying innovative solutions, by integrating social sciences with technology to ensure providing solutions that address the challenges on the ground, thus achieving the desired sustainable goals.
Dr. Alhyas added, social innovation is the implementation of ideas, scientifically and systematically, by turning them into social practices that meet current needs and requirements in a manner that aligns with societal changes. The paper covers three main areas, the concept of social innovation, social innovation tools, and key social innovations in Abu Dhabi.
She added that the paper also notes the lack of sufficient studies and research in the field of social innovation, which could pose a challenge hindering its adoption and acceptance by society. Nonetheless, the recent changes in political, social and economic stability in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) have driven innovation, especially social innovation, with the aim of mitigating the impact of social and economic challenges, such as unemployment, immigration and poverty, as well as improving the quality of life of vulnerable individuals and groups. Alhyas said the research paper emphasizes that the UAE in general and Abu Dhabi in particular, possesses various practical components and enablers as well as the needed technology to promote social innovation and integrate it into the culture and mindsets of the public, private and third sectors.
The paper also highlights the operational aspect of social innovation and the tools needed to activate it, such as behavioral insights, incentives, and solution design, while involving individuals and beneficiaries in all stages of the design process and in the implementation of solutions.
Alhyas stressed that while the MENA region has merely begun to attach greater importance to social innovation, Abu Dhabi continues to assume a leading position in this field, thanks to its strong awareness of its strategic role in developing and advancing society by using social innovation tools that are designed on a scientific and methodological basis. The DCD enjoys a significant competitive advantage given its prominent role in leading social innovation missions in the region, as evidenced by its establishment of a dedicated department for this purpose, thus becoming a leading social innovation hub, with the support of strategic partners and social sector experts.