gorka739-1024x683.jpgWhen we talk about the topic of innovation, people usually think about some amazing things that only happen in a place like Silicon Valley. ‘Innovation,’ or ‘Social Innovation,’ in particular is often perceived as and associated only with cutting-edge technology, public services, and social entrepreneurship. However, there is much more to it. What does it actually mean? That depends. Innovation can be anything from the new ideas, solutions, tools, methods, approaches or the processes of doing things differently, which can eventually lead to a positive systemic change in our society. This, of course, includes the work in the conflict areas where peace is absent and violence is prevalent.

In the conflict areas, ‘innovation’ or ‘socio-economic development’ and ‘peace building’ are often seen as two separated topics. However, the study of the Basque Transformation by Agirre Lehendakaria Center for Social and Political Studies (ALC) led by Gorka Espiau, social innovation specialist, indicates that:

• Conflict, violence, peace-building, human rights, health, education, and sustainable human developments are all interconnected in a complex way;
• Social innovation can improve the social and economic conditions in the conflict areas;
• Building social innovation platforms in conflict areas could help create a ‘sustainable peace’ – a definition that doesn’t mean just a situation without physical violence, but also includes human security in social, economic, and cultural dimensions.

Last week, UNDP had a chance to work with Gorka and his colleague, Iziar Moreno to introduce social innovation process and explore the possibility of creating social innovation platform for socio-economic transformation with groups of local authorities, civil societies, academia, and startups from the southern border provinces of Thailand – Pattani, Yala, Narathiwat. Our journey to the South begins with curiosity to see how social innovation platform can be created as a space to generate ideas/initiatives from the local communities where people face with complexities and extreme difficulties; and how this platform can help us to interconnect multiple development issues in the area.




Gorka shared his experiences and lessons learned from the Basque case, where people suffered from a profound economic collapse, the highest unemployment rate in Southern Europe, and an image associated to violent conflict. Despite these challenges, today the Basque Country holds advanced positions in healthcare, education, and income per capita. Instead of violence, it becomes known as the city of development and this renowned success is what we called ‘the Basque Transformation.’ This sharing of the Basque case helps participants learn and contextualize.

To summarize the Basque case at a glance,

• The transformation in the Basque Country happened as a result of the people’s hopeful attitudes despite worst scenarios. The sense of urgency and the feeling that no one would help them made it possible for people to start creating something better for themselves. They believed that ‘Change is Possible.’ Their decisions were connected with common values and narratives, that is, instead of being remembered as a symbol of violence and conflict, they wanted the city to be remembered as a symbol of positive change.

• There were many actions that may seem unrelated, for examples, the decision to engage with Gugenheim Foundation and to invite Frank Gehry to build a museum in Bilbao and make it a symbol of transformation (resulted in what we later called the Bilbao Effect), the establishment of Mondragon, a corporation and federation of worker cooperatives, a movement of local chefs who brought in modern and French culinary skills to mix with their local ingredients and traditional cooking technique. Many restaurants are now awarded Michelin Star, and many other activities. However, looking closer, these actions all became the interconnected mechanism that helped accelerate the social and economic development, which eventually made Euskadi ta Askatasuna (ETA) decide to lay down their weapons, eventually leading to ‘sustainable peace.’

For more details of the Basque Transformation, stay tuned and check out our next article very soon!



A group exercise allowed participants to think about ‘new things’ that they have done or has already happened in their communities, from which resulted in positive changes. Participants were tasked to comprehensively define them in 5 categories.

1. Community actions e.g., a small-group forums in mosque, to discuss support for for orphans, led to a new idea on fund-raising. They agreed to raise funds through garbage selling instead of donations. The garbage were later sold for use as fertilizer and to raise money to help the orphans.

2. Small-medium scale entrepreneurship e.g., the establishment of Fiin Delivery, a food and document delivery service

3. Large scale public-private partnership e.g., public-private partnership on water management system

4. Public service e.g., an ambulance/emergency service in a remote village to take patient to a nearby hospital.

5. New regulation e.g., Community cremation rules which is an agreement that all community members are to help with the funeral arrangement when someone dies.

Allowing participants to think in these 5 levels helped them see a clearer picture of connections as well as slowly began to have a common vision on social innovation that it isn’t something out of reach but is something that may have already be done in the area.





To create systemic change, the first and foremost important process is ‘listening’.

We must ‘listen’ to the untold stories, to things that sometimes may not be said out loud in order to find the reasons behind people’s actions, attitudes and behaviors, as well as their beliefs and values in life to see the narratives and how the stories are making sense collectively (collective sensemaking)

Most importantly, we must find out if people believe that ‘change is possible or not’ as the belief can directly affect the development. For instance, in some communities, despite a lot of projects, budget or government support, young people still want to leave their hometown to find jobs somewhere else because they are taught by their parents that to be successful is to be able to work in the capital city. In contrast, in the place where people think that change is possible, they might open small businesses in their community to tackle unemployment challenge.

This process allowed participants to learn the importance of deep listening to identify the challenges and opportunities and see the connection between stories.



Social innovation builds co-creation on human-centred design processes which help us overcome the traditional top-down approach. Participants together envisioned the future of the provinces they want to see as well as co-created and co-designed social innovation ideas and solution to prototype further.

Some interesting ideas and stories from the locals:

• Participants shared common perspective that agriculture, food and sustainable tourism are opportunities. They take pride in their unique cultural richness and natural resources. But, due to the negative representation of conflict and violence in the media, less people come to visit this area and tourism cannot be promoted. They also feel that they cannot fully utilize their resources efficiently. At the same time, the provinces also have many talented people and interesting events but these are not represented in the media as often as the negative ones.

• People see the opportunities to export both fresh and processed fruits, especially longkong and durian, to other provinces or neighbouring countries. In Narathiwat, local people mainly depend on rubber tapping. The authorities try to encourage people to grow other kinds of vegetable and fruits for additional sources of income. However, rubber tapping is seen as a way of life inherited from their ancestor. They still want to preserve the knowledge and local wisdom amidst unstable rubber price. The questions may lie in how to achieve the balance between maintaining identity and creating new economic opportunities – and that the solutions shall truly meet the needs of people in the community.

• Participants see the possibility of partnership and connection to other communities. They present tourist destinations in their provinces, which can easily be developed into a sustainable community-based tourism. The travel routes can also be interconnected between various districts and provinces.

• In some areas, extreme difficulties discouraged and make people lose hope in life. It is difficult to organize creative activities and many activists also stop their action on development issues. To solve the issue, participant suggested the idea of ‘PeaceLab,’ to use technology and media to support local people’s learning about human rights and sustainable peace.


Tools used for building social innovation platform




The most important thing that happened this process is that we listened to people from ‘every sector.’

This workshop convened participants from different groups, including local authorities, community leaders, entrepreneurs, startups, academia and civil society organizations.

By staring with a simple question, “How would you describe Pattani/Yala/Narathiwat to people who have never heard of your provinces before?” We were able to listen to different stories and different narratives from people, though living in the same province, who have different backgrounds, experiences, interests, and professions. And in these differences we found an interesting connection; people actually feel that they are connected by taking pride in the diverse cultures and identities of the area, including Muslim, Buddhist, and Chinese. They felt that the charm of the Deep South is that, despite the diversity, they can share the rich resources and co-exist with each other as reflected during the dialogue “Religious affairs, we do separately – Social affairs, we act together”

After that, more intense questions were asked. “What do you think are the challenges in the area that people know exist but have never spoken out loud?” The discussion made us see a much broader and deeper narrative and helped us visualize the connections in social, economic, and cultural dimensions from upstream to downstream.

From the observation of the atmosphere during the dialogue, we found that by having a listening space for people to tell their stories, people are more engaged and truly feel they are part of process. Moreover, it helps them to see the connections of different narratives and to not rush to the conclusion on ‘what is the right thing to do.’ The two keys to this listening process, especially for facilitators, are 1) to be a glass half empty and 2) to not make any pre-judgement and conclusion before knowing the whole stories.

Another important process is the reflecting after listening, and the collective sensemaking by which people give meaning to their collective experiences, visualized through diagram mapping. The purpose of this step is not to find solution to the problem but allowing participants to reflect on the connection of their own stories. As facilitators, we didn’t really have to worry if our linked arrows between each post-its are going to be right or wrong because, even they are wrong it will be a tool to encourage participants to think deeper and correct them. This mapping is a joint process which all participants are responsible together and which makes sure that everyone’s stories are in the picture.



The listening process should not occur only once, but repeatedly, every time and in every stage of development process so that we could gain a deeper understanding of the narrative. We have to dig deep to find hidden messages in each story – whether people think that ‘change is possible or not.’

The question may sound simple, but to make sure that the answers we get come really from their hearts is not an easy task at all. Especially in the areas plagued by daily conflict and violence, people tend to undermine their belief in change, development, and living a positive life. Participants might answer ‘Yes, I think it is possible, but…’ followed by many other conditions. This shows that they do not really believe in the possibility of change

So, the further question is that if people don’t believe that change is possible, what can we do? Maybe shifting the vision to focus on a much smaller action for a tangible outcome (or even show that what they have already done is actually the change itself) could be a better starting point to show that it is possible to create change. So, the question ‘is change possible?’ is important in a way that it helps with designing and shaping process of development in a sustainable way.

To summarize, ‘Transformative Change’ can only happen when people believe that change is possible. This belief will eventually be the driving force for individuals, organizations, communities, and society.



The intense workshop on listening, sensemaking, co-creation, and prototype allows us to see a new light of interconnected opportunities such as food and culture as previously mentioned. However, for the next step as facilitator, even though it is surely easier for us to lead the process as we know a lot about tools and familiar with the approach of social innovation, we may need to step back to open up a space for the local to come up with their own conclusions and interpretation, and find solutions that are most suitable for them. That way the interpretation and solution will represent the local needs and ways of life, and not being misrepresented by the outsiders.

The process of creating transformative change that is driven not by experts but by local people is much more challenging and complex. Of course, participants might not be able to connect the dots and grasp the essentials all together at once, but it is definitely a good beginning of creating a learning process for local people to get to know new tools and methods that can be used in a sustainable peace building process. We believe that this process will eventually lead us to sustainable developments in the southern border provinces of Thailand. At the heart of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), it isn’t merely working to achieve the 17 Goals, but it is working with ‘Leaving No One Behind’ lens.

Making sure that everyone from every sector, including the most vulnerable persons, is engaged in the process may take more time and is more complex, nevertheless, it enables the paths towards sustainable development and peace building.




Mapping of the output from workshop


Most importantly, this workshop of building social innovation platforms in Pattani, Yala, Narathiwat would not be possible without the passionate participation from all participants.

I would like to take this opportunity to praise the representatives from all three provinces

Local Authorities from
Pattani –  Thanam, Bannok, Nambor, Trohbon sub-districts
Yala  –  Lammai, Banrae, Bannangsata sub-districts
Narathiwat – Wang, Changpuek sub-districts.

And startups, civil society, and academia

• CHABA Startup Group
• Sri Yala MyHome
• PNYLink
• Digital4Peace
• Saiburi Looker
• HiGoat Company
• MAC Pattani
• MAC Yala
• MAC Narathiwat
• Hilal Ahmed Foundation
• CSO Council of Yala
• Nusantara Foundation
• Thanksin University
• Institute of Peace Studies, PSU


Collaboration for Vibrant Ecosystems

Screenshot 2019-09-25 at 11.27.36.png

Development Alternatives, in partnership with la Caixa Banking Foundation, has launched a social innovation program for entrepreneurship led job creation titled, “Work 4 Progress”.  The program is active in rural areas of Bundelkhand and Eastern Uttar Pradesh and works with aspiring and existing women and youth entrepreneurs.

Work 4 Progress is driven by four processes: dialogue, co-creation, prototyping and learning for acceleration.  Across these four processes, the program works with diverse stakeholders that inhabit the entrepreneurial ecosystem ranging from aspiring and existing entrepreneurs, NGOs, financial institutions, market actors, technology and service providers, capacity building institutions and government agencies.

The entrepreneurial ecosystem is complex and involves the interaction between interdependent elements and a diversity of stakeholders.  The social innovation approach to transformation change recognizes that ideas for social impact develop and flourish in collaborative environments and are propelled by interdependencies between each level and components of the ecosystem.  The challenge for organisations therefore, is to create platforms for collaboration. For development programs located among communities, as in the case of Work 4 Progress, such platforms are required at all levels: micro, meso and macro.

As its Latin roots com and laborare indicate, collaboration means “to work together”. The platforms for collaboration therefore provide space – physical, virtual or digital – for organisations, individuals or informal groups to work together.  The purpose of collaboration in the case of an entrepreneurship program could range from exploring a concept or idea to finding solutions to problems, cocreating a process or prototype, supporting entrepreneurs on the ground, carrying out an experiment, execution, scaling up an approach and policy research and influence.  The nature of collaboration accordingly, could be formal or informal, short term or medium to long term and could bring together a very small set of stakeholders to a more diverse and larger group.

Development organisations, private foundations and corporates, globally as well as in India, are increasingly collaborating to address complex challenges and “wicked” problems.  The Work 4 Progress India experience has led us to understand that platforms for collaboration at the macro level – state and national – are not common when it comes to supporting micro entrepreneurship and that they are more useful for the entrepreneurs as well as the supporting organisations. Platforms for collaboration at the meso level – district and sub district or block level – are critical as they are closest to the field and home to key actors in the entrepreneurial ecosystem. However, there is a vacuum at the meso level, which has led Work 4 Progress to create and support coalitions of diverse stakeholders at the district level.  Platforms for collaboration at the micro level are either non-existent or not much is known about them.  Micro-entrepreneurs do not have a formal or an informal association that provides them a platform to connect with each other unlike small, medium and large industries that have associations such as the Confederation of Indian Industry and Chambers of Commerce.

During the initial phase of the W4P program, it was observed that enterprise development activities were being pursued by multiple stakeholders like government officials, civil society organisations (working in the sector of livelihoods), financial institutions (Banks, Non-banking financial companies etc.), training institutes, academia, entrepreneurs, trader association etc. Constant dialogue with these stakeholders brought out a need for platform at the district level to enable coordination between diverse stakeholders and their enterprise development endeavours. Thus, the concept of a district level coalition was conceptualised and initiated across all the program geographies.

Given this context and W4P program experience, it will be useful to draw lessons from existing experiences and brainstorm on what it takes to create, support and manage collaboration platforms at micro, meso and macro levels, especially in the context of a social innovation program and similar initiatives in India.

The session will seek to explore, reflect and brainstorm on the following social innovation:

  • Why and when should platforms for collaboration be setup?
  • What does it take up to setup platforms for collaboration across different levels i.e. macro, meso and micro?
  • What could be the underlying principles, form or structure and life of a platform for collaboration?
  • What capabilities and shifts in mind-set do organisations need to support and participate in platforms for collaboration?
  • How can platforms leverage existing resources and create constructive partnerships between actors from different sectors to accelerate impact?
  • How can we measure the success of platforms for collaboration and what are some of the key success metrics?


Moderator: Gorka Espiau


The Basque experience in Thailand


How can we really build social innovation platforms in conflict areas?
Does it really help with the socio-economic development for the people?

Thailand Social Innovation Platform under UNDP Thailand invites you to join the public talk on “How to Build Social Innovation Platforms in Conflict Areas: The Basque Experience” by Gorka Espiau – social innovation, conflict management, and sustainable human development specialist, and a Senior Fellow at the Agirre Lehendakaria Center for Social and Political Studies (ALC )

Gorka Espiau will share his experience and lessons learned from the Basque case, where people were suffering a profound economic collapse, the highest
unemployment rates in Southern Europe and an international image associated to violent conflict. Despite these challenges, today the Basque Country holds leading positions in healthcare, education and income per capita.

Free! Limited Seat Only
Date: 20 September 2019
Time: 10:00-12:00
Venue: Auditorium, 2 Fl., TCDC Bangkok

Register here:
*The talk will be in English with spontaneous Thai translators.

#RespectDifferences #EmbraceDiversity #PreventingViolentExtremism #PeaceInnovation #PeaceBuilding #SDG #SocialInnovationPlatform

Nolakoa izan behar luke euskararen nazioarteko lanak?

Ostiralean, maiatzak 17, Kanaldudek ekoizten duen “Zuzenean zure esku” programaren saioa egingo da Beasaingo Igartza jauregian “Nolakoa izan behar luke euskararen nazioarteko lanak?” izenburupean.

Bidarraiko telebistak duen dinamika aberatsaren baitan, 15ero “Zuzenean zure esku” programa zuzenean emititzen du internetez. Oraingoan GARABIDEk heldu dio erronkari eta aste honetan emitituko den programan mundu mailan dauden milaka hizkuntzen inguruan arituko gara.

Mahai-inguruan parte hartuko dutenak honakoak dira:

Mahai-ingurua maiatzaren17an, ostirala, arratsaldeko 6etan eta Beasaingo Igartza jauregian egingo da eta zuzenean emitituko da “Zuzenean zure esku” atalean.

Programa grabatu eta internet bidez zabaldu eta  gero, aukera izango da telebista arruntetan ikusteko. Izan ere, “Zuzenean zure esku” programa Hamaika, Goiena eta Xaloa telebistetan emititzen da. Joango gara emisioen inguruko berri zehatza ematen.

Baina lerro hauen bidez ez dizugu saioa ikustera animatu nahi soilik. Ekimenean parte aktiboa izateko 2 modu eskaintzen dizkizugu: zure sare edo kontaktuei mezua zabalduz komunikazio lanean parte hartuz edota mahai-inguruan publiko gisa parte hartuz, horretarako 17:30ak aldera Igartzara hurbilduz. Animatu eta etorri!

Elkar ulertzetik elkarrekin lan egitera… Ados?


19c8ace1-aa09-4018-9d22-d5a74fa9cf33.jpgUDALTOP 2019.Egitaraua

2019ko maiatzaren 16an eta 17an – Manuel Lekuona Kultur Etxea – Lasarte-Oria

09:00>09:45 Zein izan behar dira euskalgintzaren baloreak XXI. mendean?

Gorka Espiau Idoiaga, Agirre Lehendakaria Center

09:45>10:15 Euskaraldiko lankidetza esperientzia txarretatik ere ikas genezake?

Estitxu Alkorta Barragán, Eusko Jaurlaritza, HPS
Jasone Mendizabal Altuna, Euskaltzaleen Topagunea

10:15>10:45 Euskaraldia: mugimenduaren mintzoa (eta zer esan digute antolatzaileek?) 

Josune Zabala Alberdi, Eusko Jaurlaritza, HPS
Uxoa Anduaga Berrotaran, Soziolinguistika Klusterra

10:45>11:15 Atsedenaldia
11:15>12:45 Talde-lana: elkar ulertzetik elkarrekin lan egitera. Berrikuntza sozialerako plataforma bat diseinatzen saiatuko gara. Ados?
12:45>13:30 Testigantzak Euskaraldiko elkarlanaz: Lehendakaritza, Bilbo, Amurrio eta Viana

Asier Aranbarri Urzelai, Eusko Jaurlaritza
Begoña Arruabarrena Larrinaga, Eusko Jaurlaritza

13:30>13:45 Amaiera ekitaldia: elkarrekin, ulertu edo ez

Pantxika Lamour

La transformación ineludible

cropped-TRANSFORMACIÓN_INELUDIBLE_CABECERA-WEB_v4_2000x1200px-01-01-04.jpg10:00 – 11:30 Sesión inaugural: ¿Cuál es la mejor estrategia para cumplir la Agenda 2030?

  • Teresa Ribera, ministra para la Transición Ecológica del Gobierno de España
  • Jeffrey Sachs, director de Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN) y director del Center for Sustainable Development, Columbia University
  • Kirsten Dunlop, CEO EIT Climate-KIC
  • Ignacio Galán, Presidente y CEO de Iberdrola

Modera: Leire Pajín, Presidenta de la Red Española para el Desarrollo Sostenible (REDS)

11:30 – 12:00 Pausa Café

12:00 – 13:00 Seminario interactivo 1. Narrativas para el cambio

Cómo descubrir las narrativas que bloquean los cambios, y cómo provocar narrativas nuevas que hagan deseable la transformación. Imaginar futuros posibles alineados con los ODS.

KEYNOTE SPEAKER: Gorka Espiau, Profesor en la Universidad McGill de Montreal, Senior Fellow en The Young Foundation y en Agirre Lehendakaria Center (UPV-EHU)


  • Giulio Quaggiotto, UNDP
  • Pablo Santaeufemia, Bridge for Billions

Modera: Gonzalo Fanjul, director del área de análisis de políticas de ISGlobal

13:00 – 14:30 Almuerzo. Networking EIT Climate-KIC

14:30 – 15:30 Seminario interactivo 2. Innovación sistémica, más allá del cambio incremental

Cómo poner de manifiesto la necesidad de ir más allá del cambio incremental. La Agenda 2030 obliga a transformaciones profundas de carácter sistémico.  

KEYNOTE SPEAKER: Kirsten Dunlop, CEO EIT Climate-KIC.


  • Cristina Garmendia, Presidenta de Fundación Cotec
  • Teresa Riesgo, DG Research development and innovation
  • Óscar Corcho, Catedrático Universidad Politécnica de Madrid (UPM)

Modera: Jordi Molas, director del Instituto de Gestión de la Innovación y del Conocimiento (Ingenio)

15:30 – 16:30 Seminario interactivo 3. La transformación ha comenzado

Cómo dar a conocer experiencias disruptivas que están empezando a marcar la senda de la transformación, y discutir sobre las condiciones (contextos) que es necesario crear para su interconexión y escalabilidad.

KEYNOTE SPEAKER: Jeffrey Sachs, director de Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN) y director del Center for Sustainable Development, Columbia University.


  • Agustín Delgado, Director de Innovación, Sostenibilidad y Calidad de Iberdrola
  • Mark Nieuwenhuijsen, director de la Iniciativa de Planificación Urbana, Medio Ambiente y Salud en ISGlobal.
  • Manuel Wiechers, CEO en Ilumexico
  • Eva Pérez, directora de Innovación y Sostenibilidad. Fundación Valencia Port

Modera: Valentín Alfaya, Director de Calidad y Medio Ambiente en Ferrovial.

16:30 – 17:00 Conclusiones

  • Cristina Gallach, alta comisionada para la Agenda 2030 en España
  • Representantes de las entidades promotoras: ISGlobal, Iberdrola, itdUPM, REDS

17:30 – 19:00 La aceleración no sólo es necesaria… ¡También es posible!

KEYNOTE SPEAKER: Mariana Mazzucato, directora del Instituto para Innovación y Propósito Público en University College London y el RM Phillips Chair en Economía de Innovación en la Universidad de Sussex

En diálogo con:

  • Jeffrey Sachs, director de Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN) y director del Center for Sustainable Development, Columbia University

Modera: Carlos Mataix, director del Centro de Innovación en Tecnología para el Desarrollo Humano – itdUPM

19:00 – 19:30 Llamada a la aceleración

Representantes de diferentes generaciones comparten un documento de llamamiento a la aceleración. 

  • José Esquinas-Alcázar, exdirectivo de FAO

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