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Innovation: An Un-Level Playing Field for Developing Countries

Tom Grubisich's picture

Innovation has always been crucial to economic growth, and never more so than in this era of globalisation.  But globalisation can create innovation winners and losers.  The new book Innovation and Growth: Chasing a Moving Frontier, published jointly by the Organisation for Economic Co-Operation and Development (OECD) and the World Bank, describes how innovation -- not principally from newer science but the penetration of older, infrastructure-intensive technologies like improved water source and sanitation -- puts developing countries on an un-level playing field compared to developed countries.

A book launch and seminar are being held today from 9:45 a.m. to 12:45 p.m. at the World Bank Main Complex (Room MC2-800).  It will feature the book's editors -- Pier Carlo Padoan, Secretary-General and Chief Economist, OECD; Carlos A. Primo Braga, Director, Poverty Reduction and Economic Management Network (PREM), World Bank; Vandana Chandra, Senior Economist, PREM and Development Economics (DEC), World Bank; and Deniz Eröcal, Coordinator, Enhanced Engagement with Non-Member Economies, OECD.

This blog will have more on this event, but here's an excerpt from the book's Introduction summarizing the innovation dilemma:

"In the past few decades, as the international flows of trade, capital and labour have expanded across the global marketplace, the competitiveness and prosperity of high-income economies has come to rely increasingly on their innovative capability. Unlike OECD countries, developing countries’ competitiveness and prosperity remains largely tied to their endowments of natural resources. Their governments have been less successful in fostering technological innovation. Moreover, low productivity levels continue to constrain their competitiveness in the global market.

 "The unique nature of innovative activity and the growing interconnectedness of the world economy call, however, for greater attention to the interplay of openness and technological innovation not only in OECD countries, but also in developing economies.  Innovation systems increasingly rely on 'open' platforms and collaboration side by side with competition. At the same time, the geography of innovation is being redrawn as economic interdependence grows, emerging economies accumulate immaterial assets, and modern communication networks redefine opportunities for 'leapfrogging.' The experience of the so-called 'BRICs' (Brazil, Russia, India and China) is illustrative in this context.

Second Chance for Bangladesh DM2009 Finalists?

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Bangladesh, the most populous Least Developed Country (160 million people), was represented by five finalists at DM2009.  That's not surprising, because Bangladesh, with its heavily populated and low-lying coastal region, is especially vulnerable to climate change in the form of more frequent and intense cyclones that cause widespread flooding (photo).  However, none of the five Bangladesh adaptation projects won. But there may yet be some hope for them.  The objectives of all five appear to dovetail with much bigger adaptation projects that the Bangladesh government has identified as high priority and is seeking to fund through its National Adaptation Program of Action (NAPA).  Perhaps more significant, the DM2009 finalist projects provide specific details that aren't in the general projects of the Bangladesh NAPA.

The projects that made it to the DM2009 finals would:

 

The total cost of these early-stage projects is under US$940,000 -- a fraction of the nearly US$20 million estimated cost of five similar high-priority adaptation projects identified by the Bangladesh government in its National Adaptation Program of Action. Those more general projects would provide for:

  •  Purification of contaminated drinking water.
  •  Emergency shelter, information, and assistance, mainstreaming adaptation in agriculture, and
  •  Development of eco-specific adaptive knowledge.

 

Bangladesh is seeking at least partial funding of those projects through the Least Developed Countries Fund administered by the Global Environment Facility.  But another Bangladesh adaptation project -- coastal afforestation -- has completed almost all steps for approval.  That US$23 million project would get LDCF funding of US$3.72 million -- about as much as Bangladesh could expect to receive in toto, considering the Fund's present limited resources of US$150 million which have to be spread among 48 other LDCs. But LDCs will be lobbying for the developed countries to contribute more to the Fund at the U.N.-sponsored climate change negotiations that begin next week in Copenhagen.  A recently published World Bank analysis says all developing nations, including LDCs, would have to spend US$100 billion annually on climate change adaptation for decades to come to avoid falling behind in their economic growth.

The Bangladesh finalists were not the only ones who didn't win at DM2009.  But Bangladesh is, by far, the biggest member of the LDCs.  Furthermore, Bangladesh is one of the six countries that are being studied for funding under the World Bank's Pilot Program for Climate Resilience.  Funding, which includes pledges from developed nations totaling US$546 million, is earmarked for projects that are part of each recipient country's NAPA.   Those five DM2009 finalists should go all out to get themselves included in Bangladesh's NAPA.  They would fit perfectly.

DM2009 to Help Indigenous Grassroots Grow in Siberia

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The 40 Indigenous Peoples of the North, Siberia, and Far East in Russia endure one of the world's most hostile environments.  But it is man, not nature, that threatens the very existence of these communities, which have dwindled to about 250,000 people who live in sometimes besieged camps and villages sprinkled across the vast frozen landscape from the Barents Sea to the Pacific Ocean.  (Photo credit: EALÁT.)

Deforestation, industrialization, and flooding from hydropower drive Russia's Indigenous Peoples from their ancestral homelands.  Illegal fishing, poaching, and the auction of fishing grounds deprive them of their livelihoods.  Russia's Indigenous Peoples are, theoretically, protected by federal laws, but advocacy groups say there's no regulatory force to the laws.  The collective plight of the communities is grim evidence behind those arguments.

Leading the fight to put teeth in the laws is the Center for Support of Indigenous Peoples of the North (CISPN).  Its tenacious struggle, which has won it some legal skirmishes in Moscow and at international forums, has now earned it one of the 26 awards given at the Development Marketplace 2009 competition.  The $200,000 award will go toward a grassroots project that will help indigenous communities leverage their traditional knowledge with contemporary techniques of communication and advocacy that involve engaging all stakeholders.  The goal is a "climate strategy" of adaptation that will finally lead to real, enforceable protection of Russia's indigenous communities.

CISPN Director Rodion Sulyandziga, proudly holding his crystal globe after the Nov. 13 awards ceremony in Washington, said: “It’s a great day.  I’m very proud.  The most important thing is the Indigenous Peoples’ voice is heard in Siberia and everywhere.”

And then it was back to Moscow for Sulyandziga -- to map the Center's new grassroots fight.

DM2009 Juror: 'I Would Give Them All a Thumbs Up'

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Looking at the 11 finalist projects he was assisgned to evaluate, juror Fred Onduri says: "I am so impressed.  I would give them all a thumbs up. I wish they could all be winners."

Onduri, who is chair of the Least Developed Countries Expert Group with the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change as well as head of the Policy and Planning Department of the Ugandan Ministry of Foreign Affairs, is one of the 40 jurors who took a searching look at the 100 projects that were winnowed from the 1,750 applications proposing early-stage adaptation to climate change.  Their goal was to choose up to 25 winners.

Onduri said the winners would have a better chance of long-term success if they were incorporated in the national priorities of the governments of the countries where the projects would be undertaken.  "Their funding will carry them for about two years," Onduri said.  "That's not enough.  Sustainability is very critical."

He also said that the winning projects' chance of ultimate success would be improved if jurors could offers ways to improve the proposals, especially in closing what he called "the sustainability gap."

Onduri and his colleagues used five criteria in their evaluations:

Check Out These Live Webcasts Today and Thursday

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Here's what's happening on the DM live webcasts today (Wednesday, Nov. 11) and Thursday (Nov. 12):


Wednesday

  • 11:00 am - 11:15 am: Daniel Mira, Environment Department, Latin America region, World Bank.
  • 11:15 am -11:30 am:  Edward Cameron, Social Development Department, World Bank.
  • 11:30 am - 11:45: John Garrison, EXT, World Bank, focus on civil society, and Helen Marquard, SEED Inititaive.
  • 11:45 am - 12:00 pm: Interview with finalist on Index-based rainfall insurance in Indonesia.
  • 12:00 pm - 12:15 pm: Jim Koch, Santa Clara - Global Social Benefit Incubator.
  • 12:15 pm - 12:30 pm: Ian Noble, World Bank expert on climate adaptation.
  • 12:30 pm - 12:45 pm: Fred Ondun, U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change.
  • 12:45 pm - 01:00 pm: Mara Bun, Green Cross.
  • 1:00 pm - 1:15 pm:  Warren Evans, Director, Environment Department, World Bank .
  • 01:15 pm - 1:30 pm: Marianne Fay, Chief Economist, Sustainable Development Network, World Bank (photo at right).

No Empty Chairs, Please...

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It's very important for all finalists to be at their booths by 10 o'clock Wednesday morning.  That's when the jurors will begin making their rounds and continue until 3 in the afternoon.

The jurors will go round in pairs.  Each finalist will be interviewed twice.

So, set your alarm, grab that coffee, or tea, or whatever, and get yourself to your booth on time.

And knock out those jurors.  They'll want to know all the technical stuff behind your project, but they'll be looking for your passion, too.  Show it!

 

Watch Livestreaming of DM2009 Finalists

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At 3:30 p.m. this afternoon (Washington time), we'll be interviewing 16 randomly selected finalists.

The interviews will be taking place today (11/10) from 3:45 to 5:30 p.m. Washington time. Be sure to check the live webcast.  If you miss the webcast, the interviews will be on the Development Marketplace YouTube channel, and also be archived on the webcast page.

The specific finalist projects for the webast are:

1.    Mapuche Forest Model Aims to Cut Greenhouse Gases and Avoid Deforestation in Chile.  Booth 15
2.    Empowering Indigenous Communities to Build Resilience Against Climate Change in Peru.  Booth 17
3.    Innovative Strategies for Sustainable Management of Communal Reserve in Peru.  Booth 23
4.    Rice Farmers Look to Fish Farming to Cushion the Impact of Climate Change in the Philippines.  Booth 30
5.    Mobilizing Community Journalists for Participatory Disaster Risk Management, Book 35
6.    Floating Gardens and Granaries Seen as Solution for Flood-Prone Communities in Laos.  Booth 37 (wild card)
7.    Carbon Credits to Help Smallholder Farmers Improve Income and Sustainability in Uganda.  Booth 47
8.    Recuperation of Water Systems on Vulnerable Pre-Hispanic Andean Terraces in Peru.  Booth 51
9.    Index-Based Rainfall Insurance to Help Plant More Productive Harvests in Indonesia.  Booth 55
10.    Strengthening Upstream-Downstream Linkages for Climate Change Adaptation in Nepal.  Both 61
11.    Reducing Risks for Biodiversity Conservation Using Adaptive Fire Management in Bolivia.  Booth 69
12.    Promoting Low-Cost, Flood-Resilient Shelters for Vulnerable Rural Villages in India.  Booth 72
13.    Strengthening Disaster Preparedness of Southern Leyte with SMS Technology.  Booth 79
14.    Rate-and-Shame Project Would Raise Media Pressure on Public Officials in Ukraine.  Booth 89
15.    Earth-Roofed Housing: Cheap, Sustainable Shelter to Face Desertification in Burkina Faso.  Booth 93
16.    Media Access and Education for Climate Change Adaptation and Risk Reduction in Bangladesh.  Booth 95

If you want to find out more about these projects, go to Slideshare or the DM Event Guide.

If you have questions or comments, drop a line here or on Twitter (hashtag #dm2009).  We'll be happy to pass your questions to the finalists.

Graeme Wheeler on the Crucial Role of Development Marketplace

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Graeme Wheeler, who is spearheading the World Bank's mission to develop and share knowledge and innovation, gave a big boost to Development Marketplace at the opening session of DM2009 this morning (Nov. 10).

Addressing the 100 finalists in the global competition (photo at left), Wheeler, who is the Bank's Managing Director, Operations, linked DM with the Bank's recent Global Innovation Days. Graeme Wheeler, Managing Director, World Bank

"These two events -- Global Innovation Days and Development Marketplace -- will be the two cornerstones of our partnering in knowledge and learning....It's extremely valuable that the thematic focus of this year's Development Markeplace is climate change adaptation.....Climate change is the largest externality challenge of our time.  It is the most difficult public policy problem faced by the current generation of policy makers and policy advisers."

Wheeler also said, "In the World Bank Group, we see knowledge as the key element of our corporate DNA....Loans alone cannot solve the the development challenge.  What makes value is our ability to create, find, and deliver innovative solutions to our clients."

Almost needless to say, innovation is key to DM 2009.

Danish Ambassador to U.S.: Engage Now to Reach Agreement in Copenhagen

The U.N. Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen is only a few weeks away and climate change negotiators are working day and night to identify the common ground for an agreement.

I see three key issues in the negotiations:

1.    Setting of tarFriis Arne Petersen, Danish Ambassador to the U.S.gets by developed countries for greenhouse gas emission reduction.
2.    Commitment by developing countries to actions on reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
3.    Financing of adaptation and mitigation in developing countries.

These are very difficult issues, but let me state the obvious: We cannot compromise on our ambitions to limit man made global warming to a maximum of two degrees centigrade, and thus have a good chance to adapt to the consequent impacts.

Science is very clear on this point: If we continue to increase the concentrations of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, we are bound to pass a number of critical tipping points that may lead to dire consequences. And it is also clear that we can halt or change the trend. It is doable and indeed profitable compared to the cost of inaction, the cost of doing nothing.

My aspiration for Copenhagen is simple: We must conclude a binding agreement that will set the world on the path to limit global warming to a maximum of two degrees.


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