Strategic innovation in Development

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We are facing today an unprecedented crisis. What started as a sanitary crisis evolved into an economic crisis with a third of the world population in lockdown. Hospitals have difficulties coping with emergencies, unemployment is skyrocketing, disenfranchised population suffers, illiquidity leads to insolvency, the globalized economic model is questioned, social distancing becomes the norm while nature seems to flourish. This crisis will have a lasting impact. It will forge a new reality and force citizens, elected officials, civil servants, and actors of change to re-imagine tomorrow.

The objective of this panel discussion was to ensure that this crisis will not be wasted, but becomes an opportunity to build a better tomorrow, more human, green and just. This discussion builds on an inspirational seminar organized in February 2020 in Istanbul, and a NEAR/ UNDP Partnership aiming at bringing strategic innovation and complex system thinking at the heart of local economic development policies of the Eastern Partnership.

The discussion was co-hosted by UN Assistant Secretary General, Ms. Mirjana Spoljaric, and DG NEAR Deputy Director General, Ms. Katarina Mathernova. This meeting also brought together EU Heads of Cooperation and UNDP Resident Representatives from the region to hear from actors of change that a better tomorrow is worth fighting for and discuss how innovation and strands of programmatic response can help accelerate longer term recovery.

La época del pintxo pote

bfqb6rm6r12yfqxctevjtg_thumb_40dVivimos una época en la que los grandes retos globales parecen no tener solución. Los expertos hablan de una angustia generalizada que conduce al individualismo. Como los problemas son tan grandes y complejos (emergencia climática, envejecimiento poblacional, el impacto de la robotización y la gran desigualdad entre otros), pensamos que no hay nada que hacer y nos dedicamos a vivir lo mejor posible en nuestro entorno más cercano. A pesar de grandes movilizaciones sociales como la reciente huelga general, es la época del pintxo pote.

Detrás de la resignación se oculta una forma de ver el mundo. Tal y como ha explicado el actual Ministro de Universidades del Gobierno Español, Manuel Castells, la economía es cultura. Nuestra forma de ver el mundo condiciona las estructuras sociales, políticas y económicas que nos rodean. Si pensamos que un cambio sistémico no es posible, tomamos decisiones que son coherentes con esta forma de entender la realidad. Por este motivo, criticamos el monopolio y abuso de las grandes empresas globales como Amazon, Google o Uber, pero en el fondo no creemos que exista una alternativa real a la desigualdad.

Sin embargo, tan sólo hace 40 años, en una situación de colapso de la industria pesada, del final de la dictadura y construcción de un nuevo tejido institucional, a la que se añadían los efectos de la violencia, la sociedad vasca interpretó que un cambio estructural sí era posible. No sólo eso, sino que ante los mismos retos que tenían muchas otras sociedades industriales, se construyeron respuestas totalmente diferentes. Fue el momento de la apuesta por la manufactura avanzada (que las principales instituciones españolas y europeas desechaban), por la economía social (experiencia Mondragón), la instauración de una ley de garantía de ingresos básicos (muy similar a la renta básica) y por la recuperación del euskera, entre muchas otras expresiones de la transformación vivida por la sociedad vasca.

Por algún motivo que todavía no alcanzamos a comprender, nos auto-convencimos de que el cambio era posible y lo pudimos llevar a la práctica en unas claves diferentes. Este hecho histórico tan especial, pero al que nosotros no damos ninguna importancia, es el motivo por el que pensadores tan influyentes como Tomas Piketty o Mariana Mazzucato o como la Comisión Europea, la OCDE o el PNUD están especialmente interesados en la experiencia vasca.

La pregunta fundamental es sí seguimos pensando que hoy es posible una nueva transformación tan importante como la vivida en las últimas décadas. Una transformación que permita modificar nuestra base industrial en una economía circular y baja en carbono, que reinvente las políticas públicas para responder a una población envejecida y que reduzca la desigualdad creciente. En definitiva, si podemos elevar nuestra capacidad de ambición colectiva para dar una respuesta propia a retos que son globales como hicimos en el pasado.

¿Nos atrevemos a transformar el conjunto de la economía vasca en circular como está haciendo Eslovenia? No hablamos de impulsar proyectos de economía circular sino de diseñar una misión colaborativa (como sugiere la Comisión Europea) para convertir toda nuestra economía en un sistema circular. ¿Pensamos que es posible crear cooperativas vascas de larga escala para competir con los modelos de plataforma como Uber, AirBnB y Deliveroo? Los modelos alternativos en los que los proveedores de los servicios son los dueños de estos agregadores digitales miran a Euskal Herria como el único lugar en el que se han construido plataformas cooperativas de larga escala. ¿Consideramos que la actual RGI puede evolucionar hacia nuevos modelos experimentales en los que los jóvenes puedan acceder a un capital público al comienzo de sus carreras como propone Thomas Piketty?

Apostar por este camino nos permitiría posicionar a Euskal Herria como un laboratorio de experimentación masiva para el Desarrollo Humano Sostenible, atraer el conocimiento más avanzado para abordar estos retos globales y poder construir nuestras propias respuestas.

Interview with policy and governance innovation experts at Madrid and Basque Country Universities

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What is the current landscape of innovation in public policies and governance in southern Europe? Which institutions are working on new forms of governance to address climate change? What are they doing and which agents are involved?

These are some of the questions that, in recent months, an interdisciplinary team formed by Gorka Espiau Idoiaga, Fernando Fernandez-Monge, Carlos Mataix, Karmele Olabarrieta and Cecilia Lopez Pablos tried to answer.

Who are you?

Some of us are academics while others are practitioners with very different backgrounds: law, policy, engineering and communications. We work for the Innovation and Technology for  Development Center of the Universidad Politécnica de Madrid (Technical University of Madrid) and the Agirre Lehendakaria Center of the Basque Country University.

What are you working on with EIT Climate-KIC?

We have basically conducted an exploratory scan on the concepts and experiences around this emerging idea called  ‘policy and governance innovation’ adding the experience of action-research centres contributing to sustainable transformation. Some of us are also involved in the Deep Demonstrations of Change Program in Madrid and Mondragon Valley. This helped us frame and focus the research in a way that we hope will be useful for other EIT Climate-KIC colleagues and partners.

Why is this piece of research important for climate innovation?

Climate change is a really complex problem to tackle. We can even call it a wicked problem; perhaps the most wicked problem of our time given that our survival as a species depends on whether we are able to solve it sooner than later. Yet, existing governance structures and policy design mechanisms are ineffective for dealing with this kind of entrenched societal challenge.

In this piece of research, we look at some of the innovations and changes –  both explored by academics and put in practice by governments – to such structures and mechanisms that can help us deal with climate change.

We think that condensing these emerging practices is important because tackling climate change will necessarily require transforming our institutions. Hopefully, people dealing with the hard task of innovating in governance and policy will be able to find some inspiration in this work.

What was the most interesting or surprising thing you discovered in the process of the project?

Perhaps the most interesting thing is the realisation that enacting the kind of systemic change required to tackle climate change necessarily calls for transformations in cultural aspects, beliefs and value systems.

The most interesting innovations we found were those that combine technological solutions with new ways of engaging with citizens. This goes beyond simply enacting participatory mechanisms, and demands an exploration of the narratives and meta-narratives that operate in a community around their real needs and aspirations. The listening and engagement dimension is essential to begin any transformation process, and it is key to build shared transformation narratives.

Despite its centrality, however, it is somewhat surprising to realise the difficult time that public institutions have in establishing mechanisms to address diverse social needs on a regular basis. They often use certain tools (consultation, participatory budget) for specific initiatives or relatively small parts of their budgets, but it is hard to find mechanisms deployed at a systemic level.

Was there anything that particularly gave you hope or inspiration for the fight against climate change?

There’s definitely hope. When we started this research, we quickly realised that there is a large number of ‘experiments’ and people looking for new ways of doing things from very different perspectives and disciplines in Southern Europe, which in and of itself is really great news.

Also, it was particularly inspiring to share our insights in a webinar with colleagues from the EIT Climate-KIC Community and to see the collective wisdom and, perhaps most importantly, motivation, that exists. This is probably our best asset and weapon to tackle climate change, so we should be looking to take advantage of any possibility to enable peer-to-peer learning among the practitioners that are experimenting with the cases such as the ones we’ve chosen. We need to help these committed people break the silos of the institutions in which they work on a daily basis and support each other to continue learning and overcoming barriers.

On the basis of the research, what needs to happen now in the fight against climate change?

There has to be a wide-reaching consensus that technological solutions alone will not get us there. Governments have to be the key enablers of this shift, and that requires changing their own structures and capacities first.

If we leverage the collective wisdom from all the experiences that are currently happening in a scattered manner, we can definitely achieve it.

Check out the research project ‘Policy and Governance Innovation: Definitions and examples in the climate space’ here

Work4Progress en Cuzco

Screenshot 2019-11-26 at 06.18.24.pngCusco, 26/11/2019 – Desde abril 2018, el programa de innovación social Work4Progress de “la Caixa” viene generando en colaboración con las comunidades y los actores locales innovaciones en productos, servicios y procesos agrícolas y artesanales, con la implementación de 18 prototipos que están mejorando los ingresos económicos y generando empleo de calidad de jóvenes y mujeres en las provincias de Quispicanchi (Cusco) y Condorcanqui (Amazonas).

Con el objetivo de presentar y compartir el trabajo que se está llevando a cabo, la plataforma W4P Perú presenta la jornada “El trabajo que queremos: Innovación social en Perú”, que tendrá lugar el Martes 26 de Noviembre de 2019 en la Capilla Loreto, Iglesia de la Compañía de Jesús del CUSCO.

El evento contará con la participación de Gorka Espiau, especialista en plataformas de innovación social que profundizará en cómo estas herramientas activan la innovación e impulsan procesos de desarrollo. La jornada también presentará el panel de las empresas ENEL, LAS QOLQAS, Compañía Minería HUDBAY y Restaurante PAPACHOS en el que se relacionará la innovación con la sostenibilidad de los procesos de desarrollo en los territorios. Finalmente, se presentarán los prototipos del Programa W4P que se están desarrollando en Quispicanchi.

Con este evento, el equipo Work4Progress propone a instituciones públicas, privadas y empresas a sumarse a la iniciativa con el fin de generar más empleo de calidad y mejorar los ingresos económicos de jóvenes y mujeres en la provincia de Quispicanchi (Cusco).

Un total de 10 Comunidades, 380 jóvenes y 170 mujeres adultas, 4 gobiernos municipales y 119 actores locales han conformado la plataforma de innovación social W4P Perú, que se ha ido ampliando a lo largo del proceso de innovación, desde la “escucha” de la problemática y narrativa dominante en las Comunidades, pasando por la co-creación de ideas innovadoras de solución, hasta la implementación de prototipos de innovación, iniciativas hechas en pequeña escala para evaluar su eficacia.

L’hora de ser valentes

BgUHXNtoQQCkIwqe4ASZEw_thumb_543.jpgEn moments convulsos d’injustícia, d’emocions intenses, contradiccions i dolors, quan la ràbia brolla, és aleshores quan cal aturar-se. I ser més valentes que mai, per defensar la sortida al conflicte i la no violència. Aturar-se, mirar amb la perspectiva suficient, i projectar quin és l’objectiu a assolir i amb quins costos. Venim d’una setmana dura. El punt de partida ha de ser necessàriament l’acceptació de que tenim una escalada de conflicte, una situació molt greu i la voluntat de posar-hi remei. Aquí uns punts que poden semblar obvis, però que resulten necessaris per sortir de l’atzucac:

Intelligència collectiva per sortir d’aquesta situació. Cal no accentuar l’escalada del conflicte i posar les bases per a la seva resolució. Tot això amb molta cura, recuperant el sentit de les paraules, dotant-les de significat amb accions i coherències individuals i col·lectives.

Diàleg i escolta.  Quan parlem de diàleg no parlem només de diàleg entre Estat i Catalunya, parlem d’escolta activa, de diàleg social i comunitari, familiar, interpersonal, etc.  Cal treballar en tots els nivells. Assumir el diàleg com a mitjà per a la resolució passa per refermar la via de la no violència, asserenar-nos i amb la màxima contundència instar i reivindicar aquesta via. La pràctica del diàleg no fa perdre contundència reivindicativa, no té cap connotació conformista ni de resignació, el diàleg mai no para l’altra galta. Caldrà tenir molt present que existiran i s’hauran de combatre prejudicis que pretenen desacreditar el parlar. No és fàcil, no cal ingenuïtat, però quantes més veus i ànimes estiguem aplicant-lo, més difícil serà mantenir l’immobilisme dels que no volen aplicar-ho. Que altres no vulguin no desacredita la via dialogada.
Defensa de drets i llibertats. Contundència en la reivindicació de la sortida política a un conflicte polític. Contundència a l’hora de lluitar contra l’aberració que suposa a nivell democràtic la gestió judicial del procés. En aquest sentit es farà indispensable la reparació dels danys causats i la recerca de fórmules per a que els presos polítics recuperin la llibertat i puguin exercir diàleg des de la seva posició de líders socials i polítics.
No violència. La via pacífica radical ha de ser un límit, amb convenciment ètic  i determinació estratègica. És eficaç lluitar contra les injustícies amb contundència des de la no violència radical. En aquest nostre conflicte coexisteixen diferents violències amb les seves respectives quotes de responsabilitat. Tenim violència estructural institucional, cultural, sistèmica, violència contra les persones, violència contra les coses… Davant d’aquest ventall de naturaleses violentes només aconseguirem una legitimació del marc no violent si  tractem totes les violències amb igualtat pel que fa a la intensitat amb la que les rebutgem. Hi ha el perill de frivolitzar qualsevol tipus de violència i reduir-la a la caricatura, o optar per la legitimació argumentant que les altres vies no han funcionat.

Condemnem les violències: TOTES LES VIOLÈNCIES. La violència  que suposa la vulneració de drets i llibertats, la violència urbana de grups de ciutadans, la violència policial. Totes.

Comunicació no violenta. Ajudarà a poder atansar-nos a un clima social afavoridor del diàleg un ús del llenguatge que bandegi una projecció social dicotòmica, que defugi dels bàndols, de la identificació de l’enemic. No hem de menystenir l’efecte del llenguatge violent i excloent com a promotor de la violència. Conseqüentment és absolutament necessària l’aportació de matisos i la creació de punts de trobada a partir de la reflexió i la cura.
Contundència, en la reivindicació de la sortida política a un conflicte polític. Contundència a l’hora de lluitar contra l’aberració que suposa a nivell democràtic la gestió judicial del procés. Entenent que no vol dir acceptant, les causes de les diferents violències, el nostre posicionament clar i ferm és el rebuig de totes i cadascuna de les violències.

De l’estat, provocant que cada vegada siguin més persones que demandin el canvi de model, de paradigma, amb la màxima unitat de la radicalitat democràtica, tant és quin model territorial o configuració de país tenim. I el màxim d’unitat de les forces polítiques que opten per desencallar el conflicte per la via de la no violència. La solidaritat entre pobles i ciutadania, sense exclusions, amb la mirada ampla.

Discrepància. Educar i actuar en la discrepància. Cal no perdre de vista que els posicionaments polítics dels adversaris són legítims, i interioritzar com deia Albert Camus, la possibilitat que l’adversari tingui raó, part de raó.

Humanitat i empatia. Defugir les posicions nosaltres / ells i lluitar contra la deshumanització de l’adversari. Comprendre que en tot aquest procés hi ha molt dolor i patiment de persones molt diverses, tant diverses com la societat. Saber reconèixer el dolor dels altres, i cercar solucions plegades.

Política. És l’hora de la política en majúscules, la que té un imperatiu de transformar la vida de la gent, la que resol conflictes i no en crea ni els accentua. Política a l’alçada de les circumstàncies sense partidismes ni electoralisme, que denunciï i fugi de la judicialització de la política i posi límits clars a la vulneració de drets i llibertats.
Democràcia.  Democràcia també amb majúscules. La defensa de postulats democràtics sense cap mena de matís ni concessió, democràcia entesa en sentit ampli, on es contempli la dissidència, la mobilització, la discrepància, i l’exercici de drets i llibertats. Un sistema polític democràtic sa és aquell que admet al seu si postulats de canvi del sistema. Sinó no és completament democràtic.
Responsabilitat. La responsabilitat política va molt més enllà de les responsabilitats dels representants polítics. Hi ha capacitat d’influència  individual i col·lectiva en diferents àmbits de la societat, cadascú a la seva mesura i en els seus respectius entorns (quotidià, col·lectiu, familiar, professional, activista,…) hi té una responsabilitat.
Oportunitat, cal potenciar l’oportunitat que suposa un moviment reivindicatiu tant multitudinari en l’aposta de la no violència, a nivell teòric, de relat i pràctic. Més enllà d’opinions i posicionaments, s’ha en posar en valor l’aposta sostinguda per la via pacífica com a mitjà de reivindicació, fins el punt que és un dels trets d’identitat del moviment. Hi ha més conflictes. Tenir la referència d’un model reivindicatiu pacífic és una oportunitat d’estendre aquesta cultura a la nostra societat.
Mobilització i lluita. Mobilització i més mobilització, per a reclamar cada un d’aquests punts essencials per a la convivència, i per a qualsevol forma de societat.
La situació de clara vulneració de drets provoca que cada vegada siguin més persones que demandin el canvi de model, de paradigma i si és possible amb la màxima unitat de la radicalitat democràtica. S’entreveu un augment de la solidaritat entre pobles i ciutadania, sense exclusions, amb la mirada ampla, fet que deixa lloc a la esperança.
És possible sortir reforçats com a societat a conseqüència de l’afrontament d’aquest conflicte i de les seves conseqüències. És possible si cerquem els punts de trobada.

Tenim la intuïció que som moltes, la majoria potser, que en tenim el convenciment i la determinació de posar-nos-hi cadascú en la seva parcel·la de responsabilitat i capgirar la situació, sense renuncies d’allò essencial. Ens hi posem? Comencem per parlar i escoltar molt, especialment a aquelles persones que pensen diferent, cuidem-nos al marge del que pensem, fixem-nos en el que compartim, en com utilitzem les paraules, a qui responsabilitzem, i en quina part nosaltres podem canviar. Ja serà molt per començar.

Noe Ayguasenosa i Soro, diplomada en Cultura de Pau. Va ser impulsora de la Unitat de Mediació de Mossos d’Esquadra.

Gorka Espiau Idoia, ex-portaveu d’Elkarri (moviment social pel diàleg i l’acord al País Basc) i ex-Senior Fellow de l’Institut per la Pau dels Estats Units.

Artículo publicado en el Diario Público

New peacebuilding and socio-economic development approaches in Asia

Gorka Espiau, Patrick Duong, Itziar Moreno and Joshua Fisher.

As in other regions, and despite political stability and high GDP rates,  many conflict-affected and post conflict areas in Asia and the Pacific, face social and economic challenges that inhibit their ability to transform themselves. In fact, most of these areas are locked in “intractable” or “wicked” dilemmas, trapped between powerful external forces and self-harming dynamics. These extremely negative conditions present tangible obstacles to sustainable transformation (limited resources, physical and social impact of violence, lack of external investment) as well as intangible ones, primarily associated with the power of violent conflict to narrow our imagination. Faced with these dilemmas, we tend to accept that change is not going to be possible and that belief system limits our actions and options. This also impacts on countries’ commitments to implement the Agenda 2030 and ‘Localize the SDGs’.

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Additionally, end of violence is normally considered as a prerequisite for real economic transformation due to the negative impact of conflict on investments, running operative costs and brand image. “Peace first and then reconstruction” seems to be the inevitable narrative, neglecting the intrinsic relationship between them. Despite the Agenda 2030 that highlights the interconnectivity of development challenges and the importance of a systems approach to integrate peace building, socio economic transformation and environmental sustainability dynamics within the Sustainable Development Goals, most of the interventions, including those of UNDP are still designed, managed and evaluated as linear projects rather than considered  as interconnected elements of any long-term socio-economic transformation strategy.

The Basque case is an exception to the above-mentioned trends. At the end of the 1970s, the Basque area was emerging from forty years of dictatorship in which any expression of local culture had been repressed. The area was experiencing an industrial collapse that generated high unemployment and an international image directly associated with terrorist violence. Despite these circumstances, the Basque society managed to stop violence while transforming its economy and industrial base. It now leads international rankings in advanced manufacturing, education and healthcare, and has also generated a balanced distribution of wealth. While the tax system is similar to the European average, the Basque Country has enjoyed high income equality rates for decades. This data allows us to think that it is possible to tackle violence with the generation of wealth in a distributed manner.

The Basque experience presents therefore a unique case of systemic transformation under extreme circumstances that holds important lessons for the international community to encourage successful social transformation. This experience involves an interconnected set of interventions and their collective impacts. Among these are: the “Bilbao Guggenheim Effect”, the Mondragon Cooperative and extended social economy ecosystem, Michael Porter’s cluster strategy, the local advanced manufacturing and technology alliances, a basic income policy, the recovery of the Basque language, and the highest concentration of Michelin Guide awarded restaurants per square meter, among many others.

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Compared to similar conflict situations, the key factor of this transformation seems to have been associated with an intangible component that enabled the development of an ambitious collaborative strategy and a permanent conviction that change was in fact possible with endogenous forces. The intangible or cultural dimension of this transformation (the “software”) can therefore be interpreted as the set of values and beliefs shared by the Basque society, expressed in collective narratives of change, ultimately conditioning the extraordinary strategic decisions that were taken.

According to the Basque experience, systems change only comes about when the entire community feels empowered to act in a different manner. These narratives of collective change can be found in all conflict areas that have undergone positive transformations. Clarifying if the community believes that change is possible or not is a key element that will condition the entire intervention. New tools for listening more deeply to the existing narratives and belief systems are therefore required. Instead of looking for rare ‘talent’ in exceptional individuals, the most advanced forms of peace and socio-economic transformations at the sub-national level set out to empower an entire community so that everyone can act in an innovative way. Understanding the area as a complex system and interconnecting the existing efforts must be a priority of any peace building effort.

The Agirre Lehendakaria Center for Social and Political Studies (ALC-University of the Basque Country) in collaboration with AC4 (Columbia University) are already testing how to build such platforms as Social LABs in the Basque area, Colombia, Croatia, Perú, India, Mozambique, Quebec and now in Thailand. Experience from these early test cases demonstrates that deep collaboration is the mechanism that spurs social transformation. That collaboration is key in generating empathy and a collective identity across a society and reinforcing that with non-transactional (or not only transactional) exchanges of ideas leading to collective mobilization of human, financial, and social resources. However, because these processes and the contexts in which they occur are dynamic and constantly changing, this type of collaboration requires a constant flow of information across social networks to enable harmonized adaptation to change.

The building blocks to set up a Social Innovation Platform for Peace and socio-economic transformations at the sub-national level’ are: (1) new community listening tools, (2) new co-creation and prototyping capabilities on 5 different levels (community actions, small and medium scale initiatives, large scale public/private partnerships, service redesign and new regulation), (3) a portfolio approach to manage prototyping and scale, (4) the possibility to set up locally focused investment funds and (5) the integration of management, communication and evaluation strategies to enable a constant flow of necessary information across a society.

New  LABS in Asia

Acknowledging the need to adapt the Basque experience to the local Asian contexts and building upon the positive experience of the co-design workshop conducted in Southern Thailand by a variety of local and international institutions (September 2019), UNDP (Bangkok Regional Hub) in collaboration with ALC-AC4 is exploring the possibility of launching 3 UNDP powered Social Innovation Platforms for peace building in collaboration with local authorities, business and civil society.

For UNDP, the ‘Basque approach’ is particularly interesting for two reasons. First, as a mean to prototype new approaches in Asia and the Pacific to sustain peace and enhance socio-economic development and thus ‘Localize the SDGs’. Second as  a way to test UNDP’s capability to use collaborative platforms at the subnational/municipal level to ‘work out loud’, connect experiments,  develop partnerships, mobilize investments and ultimately be recognized as an ‘integrator’ and amplifier of existing interventions (#NextGenUNDP). ALC and AC4 are also convinced that this exchange will help the Basque region to learn from existing practices in Asia, allowing collective intelligence emerging from distanced but connected parts of the world to tackle common challenges.

Added Value

Through our experiences contributing to build similar Social Innovation Platforms, we’ve seen the real added value of this approach to positive transformation. That values comes in the form of increased collaboration across a society, and can be summarized in 5 key elements (Begovic M.):

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1.- From transactional to relational.

Traditional projects and interventions are managed hierarchically. Platforms, on the other hand, are managed collaboratively and horizontally, and large institutions such as UNDP become conveners, facilitators and curators of the platform, selecting the actors that get to implement the process and benefiting from the network of companies that collaborate with the platform. The characteristics and expertise of the partners will determine the nature and scale of the projects. The co-creation process will make sure that all kinds of actors get involved, generating different types of interconnected prototypes.

2.-From acknowledging demand to uncovering unexpressed needs.

Traditionally, technical solutions are designed by “expert groups” in collaboration with local intermediaries, expecting social and economic change to happen naturally by local people following the advice and training given to them. Platforms challenge this top down approach, challenges and aspirations of local communities are interpreted collectively by a mix group of citizens, public authorities, climate experts, business and not-for-profit organizations. Technical solutions are co-designed with institutions and companies and responding to local dynamics.

3.- From defining-problem default to mapping-solution default.

Platform approaches invest significant resources in deeply understanding the community dynamics before designing the intervention. Working in this way, allows all the resulting initiatives to be directly connected with the real narratives of the community members at all levels, multiplying their impact.

4.- From premium on executing to a premium on learning/adapting.

Traditional analysis generates a list of objective problems/challenges to address. Platform approaches complement quantitative data and empirical, tangible evidence with a list of social priorities and perceptions. This intangible information provides us with a rich, deep knowledge that is very difficult, almost impossible, to find with traditional analysis techniques.  In order to harness distributed intelligence, platform approach combines impact evaluation and developmental evaluation methodologies, identifying specific indicators for each intervention.

5.- From scaling projects to scaling processes.

Traditionally, identified challenges are tackled by existing solutions or co-creating specific and linear projects with experts. Within this approach, identified challenges are tackled by an open innovation platform (a variety of actors, methodologies and interconnected actions). The prototypes generated by the platform are considered as a portfolio of interconnected investments to attract additional sources and offering a better risk management strategy.

Conclusions

The Basque experience indicates that a systems approach to socio-economic transformation in a conflict setting requires a strong connection between the operating narratives and belief systems, coupled with very specific and interconnected actions. Successful socio-economic transformation in conflict areas can therefore be co-created by generating a new narrative of transformation (change is possible) with a portfolio of collectively designed interventions that are structured as a Social Innovation Platform bringing together a variety of actors, methods and initiatives.

In the Asian context, the strategic goals of these platforms are to prototype a new integrated approach to peace building and sustainable socio-economic development in conflict or post-conflict areas for the UNDP. This new laboratory will test if  the current “Peace first and then reconstruction” approach should be replaced by collaborative platforms promoting “socio-economic and peace building at the same time”.

Bibliography

Coleman, P., Redding, N. & Fisher, J. (2017). Influencing Intractable Conflicts. Chapter 85 in C. Honeyman et al. (eds.) The Negotiator’s Desk Reference. Volume 2, 2nd Edition. Washington, D.C. ABA Section of Dispute Resolution.

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