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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?

Beyond Hero Worship

Jill Richmond's picture

Julie Battilana of HBSSupporters of social entrepreneurship often cite examples of “heroes” who have successfully built organizations to solve social problems on a global scale. But social entrepreneurship also includes many efforts to fix targeted, local problems rather than working toward large-scale global change. An increasing number of social entrepreneurs are experimenting with ways to use commercially generated revenue to grow and maintain their social impact.

These findings are part of one of the most robust quantitative studies of social enterprise to date. Undertaken by Harvard Business School Associate Professor Julie Battilana and her colleague Matthew Lee, a doctoral student at Harvard Business School, they analyzed 6 years worth of applicant data from Echoing Green. The purpose of the study is to expand the field of vision beyond “heroic stories” that dominate the discussion on social entrepreneurship. In this interview, they share some initial findings from their research.

Transforming Plastic Bottles into Classrooms

Myra Valenzuela's picture

Nueva Reforma - almost finished - Photo credit: Hug It Forward on Flickr In the Philippines and Guatemala, local groups have taken the mantra “Reduce, Re-use, Recycle” to a whole new level. MyShelter Foundation and Hug It Forward use discarded plastic bottles as ‘eco-bricks’ to work with local communities to build “Bottle Schools” – providing an innovative response to the problems of plastic waste and the chronic lack of educational infrastructure.

'All People Want to Do Is Live Their Lives'

Elizabeth Howton's picture

"All people want to do is live their lives." Dr. Suneeta Singh made that simple yet powerful statement during a panel discussion on “Empowering Gender Minorities in South Asia” on March 14, 2012 at the World Bank. Singh, a former Bank staffer and CEO of consulting firm Amaltas, spoke via videoconference from Delhi, India, while Nepal’s first openly gay elected official, Sunil Babu Pant, dialed in from Kathmandu.World Bank panel discussion on gender indentity in South Asia

Pant told the story of how he built a grassroots movement of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered (GLBT) people in Nepal, beginning in 2001. A turning point was in 2007, when the Supreme Court ruled that gay and transgendered people “are natural” and mandated certain benefits and an end to discriminatory laws. Today, the country is drafting a new constitution, and Pant said that if passed, it will be one of the most progressive in the world with regard to the rights of sexual and gender minorities.

AVN is shortlisted for Buckminster Fuller Challenge!

Tony Kaye's picture

Association La Voûte Nubienne (AVN) was awarded a DM grant in 2009 to test an innovative strategy for scaling up and accelerating the recruitment and training of Nubian Vault (NV) apprentices and the growth of a self-sustaining market in NV houses in Burkina Faso. The Nubian Vault is an ancient Egyptian technique of building vaulted roofs made from local bricks without using any wood, instead of typical tin roofs that are more expensive and use scarce wood during construction. AVN is transforming traditional housing available in the harsh climate of the Sahel region by providing a sustainable housing alternative and helping to avoid further deforestation.

BFC Logo - credit: challenge.bfi.orgAVN has taken on the Buckminster Fuller Challenge (BFC) and is in the running for $100,000 for the submission of our Earth roofs in the Sahel program. Our entry was published in the BFC Idea Index 1.0 on Tuesday, February 14.

Named "Socially-Responsible Design’s Highest Award" by Metropolis Magazine, the Challenge is an annual international prize program that awards $100,000 to support the development and implementation of a solution with significant potential to solve humanity’s most pressing problems.

Scaling Social Impact in the North East with Ashoka Fellows

Parvathi Menon's picture

In Calcutta a few days before Christmas, December 2011, Ashoka India brought together Fellows from the North and North East around a thematic workshop with Innovation Alchemy. The theme was ‘Scale’. The issue of increasing the IMPACT of the work that the Fellows are implementing through their diverse initiatives.

The two days of engagement was a quick immersion into the complex Development world of the North East. The region is perceptibly isolated from the rest of the country, politically, geographically, economically... A brief research of the core challenges in this part of the country points to porous borders, leading to migration, infiltration and huge demand on a weak economy. High degree of ecological instability and recurring natural disasters repeatedly impacting livelihoods, increasing displacement and further reducing opportunities. Adding to the complexity is a feeling that ‘the Central Government does not care about the North East‘.

Combine all this – human rights struggles, cross-border violations, weak economy, limited opportunity and lack of any strong progressive policy frameworks – and what you get is a situation ripe for human conflict.

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