UN SDG Innovation Panel Event – 4 / 26 @ 6pm


As the UN celebrates its 70th year and rolls up its sleeves to work towards the Sustainable Development Goals, there has been a growing movement for a bottoms-up approach to development – most notably through the various innovative interventions being tested by hubs across different UN programmes. Students from Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs are eager to learn more about how UNDP, UNICEF, UN Women, and UNHCR are investing in disruptive approaches to achieving their individual goals.


Benjamin Kumpf, UNDP Innovation Facility – Follow @bkumpf

Benjamin KumpfBenjamin Kumpf joined UNDP in 2009. He is a Policy Specialist for Innovation in UNDP’s Bureau for Policy and Programme Support. He explores topics such as behavioral insights, human-centered design, big data and other practical ways to respond to complexity in development.

Ben is the Project Manager for UNDP’s Innovation Facility and connects new partners on the global level with UNDP offices to change business as usual.

Prior to his role with the Innovation Facility, he worked in UNDP’s Gender Team on Knowledge Management and Innovation. He helped shape the design of UNDP’s Gender Equality Seal initiative, a corporate certification process to incentive good performance in gender mainstreaming in programming and institutional arrangements in UNDP Country Offices. In his role, Ben also supported the design of the citizen engagement campaign for the Rio+20 Conference on Sustainable Development and facilitated the global dialogue on food security.

Previously, he worked for the German International Cooperation (GIZ) in Rwanda and Nepal and as a GIZ-seconded expert for Knowledge Management and Communications for the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics in Hyderabad, India.

Ben has a Master’s degree in Political Science and Psychology from the University of Heidelberg and a certification in Organization Management from New York University.

Milja Laasko, UNICEF Innovation Unit – Follow @LaaksoMilja

Milja Laakso Milja Laasko joined UNICEF in 2013. She is currently a Programme Officer, focused on Networks and Communities in UNICEF’s Innovation Unit.

Prior to this role, Milja worked with UNICEF in Nicaragra for two years. During that time, she led the co-creation of a Regional Policy for indigenous Children, guiding regional authorities to apply Human Centered Design approach into policy-making. She also tested innovative approaches to children’s participation in policy-making through photography and story-telling, resulting hidden themes unveiled by children adapted high on policy agenda. Milja also headed the UNICEF sub-office in Bluefields.

Previously, she worked for Save the Children- for over 4 years, refining the Children’s Guardianship programme in Findland, and also worked with the Finnish Embassy in Mexico.

Milja has a Master’s degree in Political History, Development Studies, and Latin American Studies from the University of Helsinki.

Diana Rusu, UN Women – Follow @Rusu_D

Diana Rusu is an enthusiastic International Affairs professional with knowledge and expertise in implementing international development projects, advocacy, knowledge management, online and integrated communications. She is passionate about gender equality, social justice and innovations.

At UN Women, Diana curates information, leading practices and inspiring stories to economically empower women all over the world. She is the Community and Knowledge Management Specialist within the UN Women’s Empower Women Team by day, amateur runner, and spinner by night .

Diana is a graduate of The New School, Julien J. Studley Graduate Program in International Affairs, Development Economics. Prior to her move to New York, Diana worked with various agencies in Moldova, including the Academy of Science: Institute of Economy, Finance, and Statistics; USAID; and UNDP.



Professor Daniel Naujoks – Follow @danaujoks

Daniel Naujoks focuses primarily on issues related to international migration and development and homeland-diaspora relations. He further concentrates on international development, transnational studies, gender, the economic impact of migration, normative citizenship theory, disverse societies, as well as on questions of inclusion and exclusion in host countries.

He has published widely on the effects of migration on social, economic and political development, ethnic identity and the role and genesis of public policies. His book ‘Migration, Citizenship, and Development. Diasporic Membership Policies and Overseas Indians in the United States’ (2013, Oxford University Press) examines how country-of-origin citizenship affects migrants activities and attitudes, such as naturalization, remittances, investment, philanthropy, return migration, political lobbying, and transnational belonging.

Daniel has been working on development, migration, and population affairs at the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), EC-UN Joint Migration and Development Initiative (JMDI), the UN Population Division, UNICEF and the International Labour Organization (ILO). He also serves as the Research Coordinator for the Organisation for Diaspora Initiatives (ODI), New Delhi.

The regional focus of his academic is South Asia, the U.S. and Europe. However, he has conducted analyses and led projects in South America, North and West Africa, as well as in South-East Asia.

Daniel holds a Ph.D. in political science and political economy from the University of Münster and a law degree from Humboldt University in Berlin.