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May 2012

Innovation Promotes Good Governance in Albania

As Albania prepares to celebrate 100 years of independence in 2012 with an eye towards becoming a member of the European Union; it must make crucial improvements in a sensitive area: good governance.

For better governance, citizens need more access to information; budgets and local taxes need to be transparent. Women and youth need equal opportunities in business, and agriculture policies need to be developed openly.

To address these, the government is drafting and implementing new policies for central and local government, with support from the World Bank Project for Good Governance in Albania. The World Bank is further supporting the government's agenda through support for civil society projects using the Development Marketplace competition platform to solicit and select high impact projects for implementation. The British Council is overseeing their implementation.

Three Kids in a Garage

Aleem Walji's picture

Last week, Aleem Walji participated in GE’s global conference, ‘Disrupt or Be Disrupted’. He has written an entry that is being featured in The World Bank's "Let's Talk Development" blog. Below is an excerpt:

Photo credit: Let's talk Development BlogHow do you ‘disrupt’ your business from the core by building on your strengths and leveraging your assets? Jeff Immelt, GE’s CEO talked about the fear of losing too many engineers and scientists who don’t ‘fit corporate culture’ but proceed to found billion dollar businesses (Sergei Brin started at GE). It reminded me of a session at the Indian School of Business led by a senior Google Executive where he said that it’s not Microsoft, Facebook, or Twitter that keeps him up at night, it’s ‘three kids in a garage’. Hewlett Packard, Apple, Google, and Groupon, all started small, learned fast from failure, took risks nobody was willing to take, and then fundamentally disrupted business models and industries.

For the full blog entry, click here.

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Sierra Gorda, Mexico: Where the Fight against Climate Change Goes Local

Myra Valenzuela's picture

From April 23-25, 2012, a DM team comprised of Ricardo Hernandez (Sr. Environmental Specialist), Angelica Calderon (Information Specialist), Douglas Jimenez (Information Assistant), and Myra Valenzuela (Consultant) visited DM2008 Project “Reducing Impacts of Ranching on Biodiversity.”

Photo Credit: Roberto Pedraza Ruiz - Sierra Gorda SilvestreWith the Rio+20 meetings less than 5 weeks away, climate change has once again taken center stage on the global agenda. Grupo Ecológico Sierra Gorda IAP (GESG), based in the state of Querétaro, Mexico, is combating climate change through its efforts to establish a conservation-based local economy in the Sierra Gorda Biosphere Reserve (Reserve). At almost 384,000 hectares, the Reserve covers 32% of the state’s territory, and it is jointly managed as a public-private partnership by the Comisión Nacional de Áreas Naturales Protegidas (CONANP) and GESG. 
 

As a member of UNESCO’s World Network of Biosphere Reserves, the Sierra Gorda Biosphere Reserve is one of the most ecologically diverse areas in Mexico and serves as a critical refuge for both migratory and threatened species. However, the practice of extensive cattle grazing by landowners throughout the Reserve poses a threat to the delicate ecosystem. GESG’s GEF-funded project with the Development Marketplace, “Reducing Impacts of Ranching on Biodiversity” addressed just that: financing payments for environmental services to local ranchers in exchange for excluding their cattle from the land and performing conservation activities (e.g. tree planting, soil regeneration, no lumber extraction, no hunting). The DM project also supported 5 pilot farms to showcase best practices for animal husbandry and land management. In addition, GESG pursued certification and verification of sequestered carbon captured in reforestation efforts through the Rainforest Alliance, developing a “gourmet” product of integrated environmental services.

What Does Innovation Look Like?

Aleem Walji's picture

Having traveled to both East Africa and India over the past several weeks, I’ve been reflecting on what ‘innovation’ means in different contexts. It’s easy to get caught in a technology-centric worldview in places like Bangalore and even Nairobi these days. But when I get past the superficial stories and dig a bit deeper, I realize that impactful innovation is less about shiny tools and technology and more about ‘listening to users’ and transforming social processes to solve problems that matter to people.

My walk through a Delhi slum comes immediately to mind. While there I visited Operation Asha, a 2011 India Development Marketplace winner that is working to arrest the spread of tuberculosis (TB). India is one of the only countries in the world where the rate of infection is growing despite the falling incidence of the disease globally. The previous day, I sat with colleagues from Microsoft Research in Bangalore who explained the simple but critical advances they had made in writing open-source software to verify the identity of patients visiting clinics, aggregating data on missed doses, and using text messages to increase compliance.

The Raw Material that is Waste

Parvathi Menon's picture

Plastic Waste - Photo credit: Innovation AlchemyIt is estimated that every Indian consumes approximately 8 kgs of plastic a year. If even 20% of the total plastic consumed gets into the waste cycle, that equals over a billion kilograms of plastic waste that will be generated in India just this year alone. The per capita figure usage has gone up from 4 Kgs per Indian in 2006 and is expected to grow to 25 Kgs of plastic used by every Indian per year by 2020. Imagine how much plastic waste we will be dealing with by 2020? Seriously alarming. Remember the film Wall E? *sigh*..

The United Nation’s Environment Program published an excellent study about Converting Waste Plastics into a Resource. Describing the pathways for Waste Plastic, the report traces most routes, which invaribly lead to a dumping site or a land fill.Dumping Cycle - Photo credit: Innovation Alchemy

If India alone is producing over a billion kilograms of plastic waste each year – the global figures are huge. While the world tries to figure out how to use less plastic – an equally important focus for Innovation will need to be: What to do with all the plastic that is already in the dumping grounds?