In case you are wondering why a busy person -- like you -- should take some time off to offer ideas for the Innovation Fair on moving beyond conflict in Cape Town in April -- well, here's a story...
Today, I learnt that a high school classmate was burnt to death by rampaging youths during a violent crisis in an African country. I keep imagining what she was thinking about the last few minutes of her life. I remember us talking about growing old, having children and grandchildren -- the dreams of youth. Those dreams will never come through for her, and mine for as long as I have them would always be scarred. Now if this was a rare and unusual incident, we could dismiss it as an unfortunate tragedy and move on. Yet on daily basis, thousands of people in various parts of the world have to face and live with such tragedies -- losing sisters, brothers, daughters, sons, parents, cousins, and friends.
With a significant proportion of the world living under conflict conditions or under the fear of a potential conflict, we live in extraordinary times. The need for intellectual exchange, thinking outside the box, and cooperation has never been greater. Armed conflict, crime, and violence spill over borders -- no one is immune. How we handle these challenges will determine the world's fate for generations to come. To address these issues can we continue business as usual? The answer should be clear: We can not.
We believe many of the solutions to these challenges of conflict and violence, lie with regular people like you, me or the girl next door. Through this Innovation Fair, we would like to identify and disseminate successful operational pilots and cutting-edge applied research that provide insights on how to accelerate and increase the number and scale of solutions to the challenges facing fragile states. Networks tend to generate a cycle of innovation. New ideas seem to spur more new ideas so effective networks that allow people with different kinds of knowledge and problem-solving techniques to cross-fertilize often result in a virtuous reinforcing cycle. So we would like to invite innovators around selected themes to participate in the conflict and fragility week in South Africa which would bring together different perspective including entrepreneurs, researchers, practitioners, software developers, financiers, telecommunication carriers, and regulators to create an eco-climate that may spur networks, partnerships and alliances to support the scaling up identified operational pilots or applied research.
The Innovation Fair focuses around two critical challenges of development in fragile states:
i. Communications for Governance and Service Delivery: The Innovation Fair will seek out applied research and piloted projects that contribute to building the relationship between citizens and their state at the local and national levels, by using new communications technologies to help: a) deliver services, e.g., health,education, banking and b) encourage civic engagement or improve accountability and transparency
ii. Conflict and Violence Prevention: Research and pilot projects in this sub-theme would concentrate on innovations that can a) reduce incentives for crime and violence among youth; and b) cross-border innovations that contribute to conflict and violence prevention.
As I indicated earlier, this is a personal quest. Having being part of a human shield in an armed confrontation, I really look forward to engaging with practitioners, researchers, and entrepreneurs innovating at the front line -- often under much more difficult situations.
So I hope you'll think about the opportunities of networking with other people from other countries, potential funders, and the opportunity to share your innovative approaches which could result in support for scaling up or replication to affect many more people? Can you afford not to try?
Proposals Accepted Here