Syndicate content

Innovation

DM2009 Finalists Could Be Models for Climate Adaptation

Tom Grubisich's picture

The big question of whether developed nations will get serious about funding climate adaptation in developing countries was at least partially answered by the "Accord" at the recently concluded U.N. negotiations in Copenhagen.  Big global warmers -- the U.S. and the OECD nations primarily -- will pony up billions.  Exactly how much money and how it will be divided between mitigation (measures to hold  temperatures increases to under 2 degrees Celsius) and adaptation (proofing people, ecoysystems, and economies against the destructive impacts of worse weather) is not detailed.  But the developing world seems sure to get major help.

There's another big question that doesn't have even that half-answer: Will the unspecified billions that go to adaptation be effectively spent to do their intended work?  With adverse weather trends intensifying flooding, drought, and rising sea levels, especially in poor and other developing countries within the equatorial belt, adaptation is urgent -- particularly in Sub-Saharan Africa, low-lying parts of South Asia, and among the Pacific island states.  Much of the adaptation will require capacity development -- learning and knowledge that must reach broadly through the organizational fabric of government and civil society and foster innovative adaptation.  But developing nations and donors alike are having a hard time doing that. The World Bank Institute's new "Capacity Development Results Framework" (published in draft form in June 2009), says bluntly: " ...the results of efforts to develop capacity have persistently fallen short of expectations."

At a June 2009 forum co-sponsored by the WBI, consultant Robert Theisohn said: “You cannot do capacity development for others. Learning is voluntary and capacity development must be home-grown so we need to move from supply to demand, from delivery to acquisition.”

Interestingly, the projects of the 100 finalists at DM2009 were very focused on active as opposed to passive learning -- where participants don't just sit and take notes but become players in change that aims to protect people and natural resources and energize often faltering rural economies.  The DM projects would be great models for developing countries that want to start implementing their adaptation plans -- once those pledged funds from developed nations start to materialize.

DM2009 Finalists Collaborate to Make Innovation Succeed

Tom Grubisich's picture

Successful innovation in development often begins with one person's passionate belief in an idea that may exist only on a piece of paper.  But for an idea to make successive leaps to funding to implementation and, finally, scaling up invariably requires extensive networking and the forging of strategic, sometimes multiple, partnerships.  That's the story of Development Marketplace successes like 2006 winner PumpAid (photo) from Sub-Saharan Africa, 2006 winner Self-Sustainable Rainwater Harvesting from India, and 2003 winner Ha-Tien-Habitats-Handbags from Vietnam.

Beginning with a US$120,000 DM grant, PumpAid brought its clean-water project to early-stage development in Malawi and Zimbabwe, and went on to get financing of US$25 million to reach an additional eight million people in those two countries.  PumpAid has two partners. 

Ha-Tien-Habitats-Handbags, which has partnered with the International Finance Corp. (the commercial arm of the World Bank Group) and Kien Giang Province's Department of Science and Technology, was a 2007 winner of the US$30,000 UN-Habitat/Dubai Municipality International Award for Best Praces to Improve the Living Environment.

Self-Sustainable Rainwater Harvesting went through a series of expansions aided by the nonprofit Aakash Ganga that was financially seeded by Rajasthan Association of North America (RANA).  That led to a US$50,000 grant from the Asian Development Bank, and U.N. Development Programs (UNDP) has given Aakash Ganga a grant to expand to several hundred villages.

DM2009 Finalists Rank Far Down as CO2 Emitters

Tom Grubisich's picture

The 44 developing countries represented among the hundred DM2009 finalists produce very modest amounts of carbon dioxide (the major man-made source of global warming) on a per-capita basis.  The World Bank data visualization (above) divides the 44 countries into low income (green balls), lower-middle income (orange), and upper-middle income (blue).  For comparison, the high-income U.S. is represented by the purple ball in the upper-right-hand corner.

The vertical axis shows emissions per capita in metric tons among finalist countries.  A group of Sub-Saharan African nations -- represented by the green balls at the far left -- produce the lowest per-capita emissions -- as low as a fractional .10 metric tons.  Russia --  the highest blue ball -- has the highest CO2 emission rate among finalist countries -- 10.5 tons.  The U.S. rate is 19.5 tons.  Per-capita emissions by India -- the largest orange ball -- are among the finalists' lowest rates, although the South Asian county is a major emitter overall because it is so populous.

Climate change's adverse affects, including drought, flooding, and rising sea levels, will hit developing countries the hardest, and that includes their economies as well as people (particularly the poor and other vulnerable) and natural resources.  The effects are already being felt.  The horizontal axis of the chart shows gross domestic product per capita in finalist countries.  Many countries' per-capita GDP is already precariously low -- below $500 -- and some others, including India's, aren't much higher.

The DM2009 finalist projects' triple objectives are to protect people at the community level -- particularly the most vulnerable -- and the natural resources on which they depend, and energize generally faltering rural economies.

A Graphic View of the Wide Split in Copenhagen

Tom Grubisich's picture

This World Bank data visualization shows how the lowest-income countries compare with the highest-income ones on carbon-dioxide emissions (the main man-made contributor to global warming) and energy use.   The lowest-income countries -- blue, purple, and pink balls -- are clustered at the low end of both axes.  CO2 emissions per capita are visualised horizontally and energy use, vertically.  The highest-income countries -- orange -- are at the higher end of both axes. 

The big purple ball in the lower-left-hand corner is Bangladesh, the most populous of the 49 Least Developed Countries.  It's per-capita CO2 emissions are .030 metric tons and its energy use per capita is the equivalent of 160.5 kilograms of oil.  By comparison, the U.S. -- the biggest orange ball toward the upper-right-hand corner -- produces 19.50 tons of CO2 per capita --- 65 times Bangladesh's - and its energy use is the equivalent of 7,760 kilograms of oil -- 48 times Bangladesh's.

The size of each ball reflects the population of the country it represents.

The visualization also includes the fast-growing middle-ncome countries of China (the biggest pink ball),  India (the biggest purple ball southwest of China), Brazil (the green ball to the left of China), and the Russian Federation (the blue ball in the middle of all the smaller orange balls).  All those countries are becoming major emitters of CO2.

National Governments and NGOs: The Friction Point

Tom Grubisich's picture

Ann Kendall represents the Cusichaca Trust's winning entry in DM2009 that would use pre-Hispanic water-management systems to respond to the adverse affects of climate change in an Andean community of 2,350 families in Peru. In this mini-interview she has some very interesting things to say about the competition and how it could better help finalists, winners and non-winners alike.

Q. What impressed you most about DM2009?

A. The variety of levels of knowledge, experience, issues focussed, and the finalists' desire to contribute. Plus the effort and thought the World Bank staff had put into creating a program to encompass this range.

Q. What improvements would you like to see?

A. This year’s agenda and the series of sessions were very intensive and had all the strains of a crash course in order to communicate/educate at all levels of experience. It provided lots of opportunity but was perhaps too intense for some, so that there was less space for taking initiatives and advantage for more specific choices of dialogue developed with individuals and concerning more project specific interests, which could have included a deeper exploration of connections between fellow finalists objectives and appreciating the points of value of their issues and presentations and how these might interact with their own objectives. In 2006 I remember there was more collegial, general interaction with World Bank staff who took the time to visit and take a relaxed interest in the stands. Their conversations and reactions to the finalists about their specific presentations were most useful, as were their own matured interests and concerns, sharing their World Bank experiences and views. The interaction in 2009 with the World Bank managerial staff...was excellent and greatly appreciated. It would have been good to have had a couple of free hours one afternoon and some info on book shops in Washington for acquiring/reviewing available published materials. Maybe this was available on the Friday and the winners missed out on it!

Q. Should there be a bigger money pool to produce more winners or to extend winning projects beyond the early-stage period?

How to Help Tame Scary Adaptation Funding Estimates

Tom Grubisich's picture

Such intimidating numbers: To adapt to destructive climate change, developing countries need US$30-$50 billion annually between now and 2020, and US$100 billion annually thereafter, according to U.N. and World Bank estimates.

By the end of the U.N.-sponsored climate negotations wrapping up this week in Copenhagen, developed nations are likely to pledge more.  But most of the funding gap is not likely to be closed.

A ray of hope: What if all hundred finalist projects of DM2009's "Climate Adaptation" competition were to be financed?  Their total cost would be about US$17.5 million.

These early-stage projects are as solid as any adaptation proposals anywhere in the developing world.  They all survived rigorous scrutiny to be among the 6 percent of more than 1,700 applications that made it to the DM finals.  They focus on helping poor and other vulnerable people who are those most affected by climate change.  Most of the projects are designed to be replicated widely, so they have the potential of helping millions of people threatened by flooding, drought, and rising sea levels -- and also protecting many ecosystems throughout the globe.

The Secretariat of the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) could help to make this happen by recommending that up to US$17.5 million of any new adaptation funding for developing countries be earmarked for the DM finalists.

The issue is not billions or even hundreds of millions of dollars -- just a tiny fraction of the lowest estimated cost of adaptation in developing countries.  Could developed nations, who are responsible for most of the global warming that is hitting the poorest countries hardest, say anything but yes to that?

 

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.

How DM2009 Can Be Better -- From 5 Finalists

Tom Grubisich's picture

From DM2009 finalists, here is a sampling of suggestions for how future Global Development Marketplaces could be improved:

  • Sonia Gabriela Ortiz Maciel, Mexico: "More workshops on funding, reporting, finance, accounting -- and in the morning, when we're not tired."
  • Carlo Vecco Biove, winner, Peru: "DM could fund an additional phase for those projects that demonstrate proven success, or could help organize events (such as business conferences) to support the attainment of financing for longer-term results.  Two years is short."
  • Laurie Navarro, Philippines: "DM should have a network of other sources of funding for those projects that do not qualify for DM support."
  • Benedict Bijoy Baroi, Bangladesh: "DM should provide feedback on the weaknesses of finalist projects or lack in improvement.
  • Tom Okumu, Kenya: "DM should award at least one finalist from each participating country as a way of balancing the competition participation and equal distribution of development in these countries of representation."

     

After Copenhagen: DM2009 Winner Has a Message for World Leaders

Leonardo Rosario (beneath banner in photo) of the Philippines was a winner at DM2009 with his Trowel Development Foundation's project to protect subsistence fishing communities from climate change, while also improving their production and marketing and restoring mangrove forests.  Here's his message for leaders at the international climate talks in Copenhagen.

How I wish the finalists of DM 2009 could have presented their “100 Ideas to Save the Planet” to international leaders gathered at the U.N. Climate Conference in Copenhagen.

What those leaders would have seen would have been not only passion and commitment but also solutions that were innovative, pragmatic, and cost-efficient.

It’s too late to go to Copenhagen.  But Copenhagen is only the beginning of the search by world leaders for climate adaptation solutions that are worthy of their support. 

The DM2009 finalists’ projects meet all the objectives of that search.  They enhance and strengthen people’s capacity to manage climate risks and adapt to changing climate patterns, and even to build community resiliency among the most vulnerable – Indigenous Peoples, women and children, marginalized farmers, and small-scale fishers.

Building disaster-resilient communities may seem far-fetched to skeptics, but it is do-able.  With innovative, community-based management of natural resources as well as the synergy of ancient and traditional knowledge systems combined with modern technology, a quarter of the DM finalists showed how it can be done.  The main objective of the projects was to show how food, which is most important in times of disaster, can be secured.  The techniques included climate-adapted production systems, participatory plant breeding, introduction of “Family EarthBox,” bioculture systems, cultivation of drought-resistant rainforest tree food, and merging traditional indigenous production practices with environment-friendly modern farming technologies.

DM2009 as 'One of Washington's Best-Kept Secrets'

Tom Grubisich's picture

We've been exchanging emails with many of the hundred DM2009 finalists to get their collected thoughts on the competition.  Many of them had good things to say about the event and its programs, and how Development Marketplace could better their projects' chances, even if they weren't among the 26 winners.  But sprinkled among the positive assessments was some criticism.

Ben Stein, who heads a reverse-osmosis desalinization project to provide drinking water for 48 households on Rah Island in the Pacific nation of Vanuatu, praised Development Marketplace for "starting to understand what social entrepreneurship is," and singled out the knowledge exchange sessions.  But Stein says something important was missing: "People.  The World Bank is not a very 'people-friendly' or public place.  As there are no more Peoples' Choice awards [given in previous years' competitions], it appears that most Bank employees aren't willing to spend the time to look at the DM.  Perhaps future DMs should be held at a more public venue and really marketed to the interested public, or find some way to make the Bank a more accessible place and really market the event to the interested public.  Also, there was so much talk about social media, social marketing, and networking one would think that everyone in DC knew about DM, but in fact it seems to have been one of DC's best-kept secrets."

Pages