Updated Jul 08, 2020

Howard Hudson

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In our interconnected world, global discussions rely on a shared understanding of key concepts.

In our interconnected world, global discussions rely on a shared understanding of key concepts. But do leaders, experts and the public use the same concepts in different ways? What do "we" mean by agrodiversity, formal remittances, or even sustainable development? The SDGs are complex, with many stakeholders from many backgrounds. The UNU Jargon Buster now aims to expand: to prevent confusion a...
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In our interconnected world, global discussions rely on a shared understanding of key concepts. But do leaders, experts and the public use the same concepts in different ways? What do "we" mean by agrodiversity, formal remittances, or even sustainable development? The SDGs are complex, with many stakeholders from many backgrounds. The UNU Jargon Buster now aims to expand: to prevent confusion and inaction in the 2030 Agenda. App homepage Reuters article Launch slides
How does your innovation work?
This app is designed for Android and iOS devices. It is a ‘metaglossary’ -- a collection of glossaries. Each entry is linked to at least one Sustainable Development Goal and all entries are shareable via email or social media, and all are cross-referenced by institution and publication, mainly via hyperlink – which provide extra visibility to specific reports or events. The user interface is minimalist: the masthead presents the name and social media accounts of UNU, followed by a free-search field that gives results as you type, followed by three ‘barn-door’ fields. These fields cover: i. the 17 SDG icons, ii. the 26 letters of the alphabet, and iii. all participating institutions
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Stage 5: Scaling

A ‘metaglossary’ app for Android and iOS, the UNU Jargon Buster was launched in November 2015 at the UN Regional Information Centre in Brussels. In 2016 it was presented to UN colleagues in New York and Geneva and was the focus of a Reuters article that reached more than 650 million readers worldwide. As of March 2019, the app has been downloaded thousands of times and continues to grow in terms of the number of entries, partners and users. It features more than 1000 economic, political and social terms ranging from simple acronyms to political proceedings to technical legalese: things like ‘AVE’, ‘ODA’ and ‘TBT’. The app currently hosts terms from eight UNU sites (roughly half the network) as well as the CTBTO, IMO, OCHA, OECD, UNECE, UNIDIR, UNIDO, UNRISD, UNISDR, UN Women, WTO, etc.
- Users include graduate students, PhD fellows, researchers, journalists, development practitioners, policymakers and assistants.
- Active user base in the low thousands (both Android and iOS) - Several UNU institutes and UN agencies on board
Registered in Netherlandsin Netherlands

Focus Areas:

Agriculture, Democracy, Human Rights, and Governance, Economic Growth and Trade and 12 MoreSEE ALL

Agriculture, Democracy, Human Rights, and Governance, Economic Growth and Trade, Education, Energy, Environment, Gender, Health, Housing and Infrastructure, Humanitarian Assistance, Water Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH), Youth, Communications and Media, Digital Development and Digital Inclusion & ConnectivitySEE LESS

3,000
Customers

Problem

In our interconnected world, global discussions rely on a shared understanding of key concepts. Yet people so often speak at cross purposes.

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Solution

The United Nations University (UNU) has therefore developed a glossary app — the ‘UNU Jargon Buster’ — that clarifies hundreds of social, political and economic terms. Version 2 presents around 1000 acronyms, political proceedings, and technical legalese — each with online references and / or further reading.

Target Beneficiaries

Students, researchers, journalists, development practitioners, policymakers and assistants, etc.

Mission and Vision

Develop partnerships with more UN agencies, while increasing joint visibility Expand user base from a few thousand to tens of thousands by 2020.

Competitive Advantage

This app clarifies hundreds of social, political and economic terms, and aims to be a reference point for global debates on migration, development, the environment and all major UN issues. It works both offline and online, includes further reading and references, and enables users to share terms via social media. Uniquely, it also shows the interconnections between international agencies -- i.e. who is doing what for each SDG.

Planned Goals and Milestones

At United Nations University in the Netherlands we now want to expand the app: to include more global agencies, to give them more space and therefore a bigger stake. Right now each participating agency has its own box with a brief ‘About Us’ section, followed by their entries. We want to expand these boxes into ‘suites’: giving each agency a space not only for terms but also their SDG news and events. Paying attention to ergonomics, these suites could include blogs, infographics, videos, etc. – thus increasing ownership, relevance and traffic. We also want to “go beyond the boxes” – to show that no UN agency or SDG is an island. To show how interconnected and interdependent we are. On a basic level, the app already does this by presenting “Related SDGs” under each term. We now want to expand and highlight these links. Two further activities would help build this ecosystem. First, to provide an additional means of access and consumption, the app will be made available in a web browser version, hosted as a subsite of UNU-MERIT. Second, to give real-world impetus, UNU-MERIT will host future events for all partners. This would enable us to share our latest work on the SDGs, to continue the app’s evolution, and to exchange future plans and policy agendas. Ultimately, the app can be a platform for inter-agency cooperation, for partners who would not normally work together but could benefit from regular interaction. With this strategy, the app can become an educational hub for the UN and other international bodies interested in supporting the SDGs. In the words of Samantha Power, former US Ambassador to the UN: “to cut past the jargon and the acronyms and the sterile briefings and get real.”

The Team Behind the Innovation

The app was compiled at UNU-MERIT in the Netherlands by Howard Hudson (UK), Diego Salama (Bolivia) and Iulia Falcan (Romania). Howard Hudson runs the Office of Communications for UNU in Maastricht, the Netherlands. He has two decades of experience, working across four continents with EU and UN Agencies, Chatham House, and Amnesty International. Diego Salama joined UNU-MERIT in May 2013 as Research Assistant to the Education Director and currently works as a Communications Officer. He supports the management of the Communications Office, with responsibilities encompassing strategy, programme and project management, liaising with UN and other organizations, institutional governance and reporting. Prior to this he worked for the United Nations in Latin America at the Department of Public Information. Iulia Falcan is a Doctoral Fellow at United Nations University (UNU-MERIT) and Maastricht University. Her PhD research looks at the transition towards a low-carbon energy system.

EXECUTIVE TEAM INCLUDES WOMEN AND YOUTH

Milestone

Mar 2019
Recognition ReceivedPENDING
Date Unknown
Created