What is it about TED and intellectual polyglots? I’m attending my second TED at Oxford this week and I’m struck by how I can meet a physicist, poet, musician, and blogger all in one person. Imagine what this does for unleashing creativity, imagination, and yes, innovation. While it’s not enough to bring diverse and intelligent people together and just expect brilliant results, the intellectual diversity inherent in a group has much to do with the quality of intellectual outputs and results.
“Knowledge will forever govern ignorance; and people who mean to be their own governors must arm themselves with the power which knowledge gives.”
Browsing bills, bill and veto jackets and state contracts is not exactly my idea of a good time but it has its use, just ask the people of the State of New York where SunlightNY.com is promoting access, reform and accountability in both English and Spanish. Created largely by the Office of the Attorney General and Blair Horner, a leading advocate for government transparency who was on loan to the office from the New York Public Interest Research Group, SunlightNY.com is an innovative approach to keeping the public engaged in government. An approach that’s seems to have no equal in the US.
- United States
- South Asia
- Middle East and North Africa
- Latin America & Caribbean
- Europe and Central Asia
- East Asia and Pacific
- Public Sector and Governance
- Information and Communication Technologies
- Transparancy & Accoutnability Project Minnesota
- Texas Transparency
- state contracts
- Project Sunlight
- NYS Attorney General
- New York State Public Interest Research Group
- elected officials
- digitial democracy
- developing world
- campaign finance
- Blair Horner
Editor's Note: The following post was contributed by Paulo Correa, Lead Economist for Private Sector Development in the Europe and Central Asia Region of the World Bank.
International debate on the financial crisis has shifted attention to the potential drivers of the future economic recovery. The countries of Eastern Europe were hit hard by the global financial crisis, after having long enjoyed abundant international financing and large inflows of foreign direct investment that brought them high rates of growth, mainly through the expansion of domestic consumption. With the slowing of international trade and the indefinite tightening of financial conditions, sustained economic recovery will depend to a greater extent on productivity gains and growth in exports.
Two important sources of expansion in firms’ productivity are learning and R&D. Economic research tells us that, depending on size and survival rate, younger firms tend to grow faster than older firms. Because the learning process presents diminishing returns, younger firms, which are in the early phases of learning, will learn faster and thus achieve higher productivity gains than older firms. Innovative firms are expected to grow faster too – R&D tends to enhance firm-productivity, while innovation leads to better sales performance and a higher likelihood of exporting.
Development Marketplace 2008 winner International Development Enterprises Cambodia is the recipient of the first Nestlé “Creating Shared Value” prize worth $475,000. The award will support IDE Cambodia to scale its micro-franchise agricultural program that has substantially raised the income of participating Cambodian farmers (photo at left).
IDE Cambodia received the prize -- for which 549 applicants from 79 countries competed -- at a ceremony Friday, May 28, in London.
The award will permit IDE Cambodia to extend its Farm Business Advisors (FBA) program -- initially funded with a $200,000 grant from Development Marketplace -- by recruiting and training an additional 36 advisors, generating approximately US $1.9 million in new income to impact 20,000 people in over 4,000 rural households around Cambodia. This represents an increase in income by upwards of 27 percent.
Citizen participation, access to information and action usher in much needed reforms. The process to engage citizens is easy to describe but hard to achieve. So how do you grab and keep the attention of community stakeholders and keep them informed? This week’s answer is “Participedia.”
"Participedia is a wiki-based platform with an ambitious goal: strengthening democracy around the world. The website consists of a user-generated library of examples and methods of participatory governance, public deliberation, and collaborative public action. From citizen involvement in budgeting to oversight groups that ensure better health care and social service delivery, government initiatives that encourage democratic participation demonstrate powerful results." Launched in 2009, Participedia is a project of Stanford University, Harvard University, and the University of British Columbia. Participedia uses the same wiki platform as Wikipedia except they use it to tell democratic reform stories.
Mozambique’s weak socio-economic infrastructure and geographic location make the country particularly vulnerable to the impacts of climate change. Rain-fed agriculture is the main livelihood for subsistence farmers in this southeastern Africa country. But the resources farmers depend on are severely affected by the climate hazards of drought, flooding, and epidemic disease, and the outlook is for even more adverse impact. Moreover, the Government of Mozambique currently has neither the capacity nor the financial resources for an integrated adaptation strategy.
Helvetas (Swiss Association for International Cooperation), which has promoted rural development in rural Mozambique for more than 30 years, is working to close those gaps through activities concentrated in rural areas in the Northern Provinces of Cabo Delgado and Nampula. (Photo above shows Zero Emission Fridge seed storage silo that was Development Marketplace 2009 finalist and which subsequently won $2 million funding from European Commission Food Facility.) The Food Security and Value Chain (SAAN) project aims to contribute to increased livelihoods of semi-subsistence farmers and increased income from cash crop sales. To achieve its goals, SAAN promotes organizational and entrepreneurial capacity for improved productivity, post-harvest management, and processing and commercialization of agricultural produce.
Climate proofing of the Helvetas Mozambique Food Security and Value Chain (SAAN) project should decrease the vulnerability of farming families and increase their adaptation capacity. A Vulnerability Assessment and Evaluation of Adaptation Capacity (CVCA) in Cabo Delgado Province improved understanding of links between climate related risks, people’s livelihood, and project activities.
The post-Washington Consensus has emerged recently as an umbrella denoting the search for pragmatic and context-specific solutions to problems of developing countries. The recent financial crisis, with its epicenter in the rich economies, has demonstrated that the whole world, not just poor countries, is developing. One feature of the new pragmatism is that industrial policy is back. But in contrast to import substitution, it is an open economy industrial policy – the objective is to increase economic openness: enhance flows of knowledge, foster productive innovation, and promote non-traditional exports. Under rubrics such as productive development policies or innovation strategies, governments in developing countries are providing public inputs, each customized and bundled to suit the needs of particular domains of economic activity, but not others.
How are we responding? One way to understand the World Bank’s role in articulating the post-Washington consensus is to imagine a pyramid. At the top are the ‘thinkers’ of DEC, the Bank’s research and data arm. There are encouraging discussions on new structural economics (Justin Lin), empirical work on new trade theory, and – as one would expect – a new open industrial policy. At the foundation are task managers of lending operations. By being responsive to the needs of the client, but without much fanfare, they are in the forefront of the post-Washington consensus in their dialogue with our most sophisticated and demanding clients such as India, China, Argentina, Mexico, Russia, Malaysia or Chile. A new generation of lending technology and innovation operations is quietly emerging which emphasizes selectivity and focus on a few domains and sectors of the economy deemed strategic rather than the across-the-board focus on innovation climate. Practitioners take the need to make ‘’strategic bets” for granted (‘’the entry costs are high, technology is changing rapidly, one can’t do everything, we need to be selective”), so the issue here is to design private-public institutions to share risks and minimize state capture. New institutions of open industrial policy are being self-discovered on a daily basis, yet there is too little contact between the new theory (‘thinkers’) and cutting edge practice (‘doers’).
Development Marketplace 2009 winner Nnaemeka Ikegwuonu of Nigeria is the recipient of a $50,000 Rolex "Young Laureate Award" newly given to five pioneering social entrepreneurs under the age of 30 from around the world. Besides the cash that will be earmarked to advance their innovation-focused projects over two years, Ikegwuonu, 27, and the other Laureates will have access to mentoring from groundbreaking experts who are past winners of the watch company's long-established Awards for Enterprise.
Ikegwuonu and the other awardees were selected from almost 200 nominees for launching "innovative projects [that] have begun to have a profound effect on their communities and potentially could improve the lives of millions of people," the citation said.
The young Nigerian was recognized at the Development Marketplace 2009 competition for his plan to produce an interactive 20-episode radio drama designed to help small farmers in the southeastern region of his country figure out how to better manage the risk of growing crops in extreme weather that swings from storms to droughts. The adverse weather has been intensified by climate change that has hurt farming across Sub-Saharan Africa and clouded the hopes of many developing countries to reach their 2015 Millennium Development Goals.
When it comes to statistics, most of us get glossy-eyed pretty quickly when we are listening to an esteemed expert review his or her findings. The exception perhaps is when we are told a compelling story that relates data to our lives. Journalists are not alone is helping us make sense of really complex issues -- software developers have an increasing role to play.
A stepped-up rate of successful innovation will be of the essence in achieving development results.
What role does innovation have in poverty alleviation?