The need to look beyond ‘best’ practices that potentially keep us locked into the old paradigm, and to imagine and experience ‘next’ practices that offer step-changes in realizing sustainable development outcomes is increasing. As today’s issue-based challenges cannot always be tackled by thematic-focused approaches, a continuous sharing of information, local knowledge, tools and perspectives is therefore necessary to enable the creation of new ideas, which goes beyond the scope of a single discipline or area of practice. The waste-to-energy processing established in Southern India for instance, has had a wide range of positive results on addressing environmental and public health issues as well as creating employment for the poor.
As new technologies and communication channels promote ‘connecting and collaborating’ the opportunities for innovative approaches to development, for new ways of thinking, has accelerated. This requires the ability to adapt to ever changing contexts and challenges and to continuously re-invent approaches, services and ways of working together.
Innovation is the aggregation and transformation of knowledge that focuses on new or improved products, positions, paradigms, processes or services. It entails a continuous process of searching, questioning, understanding, and learning that result in efficiency, effectiveness, quality of social outcomes and impacts.
It involves mixing the elements of new knowledge creation, new approaches to communicating, new partnerships and indeed the introduction of new development models. It also encompasses the joint scanning, identifying, sharing and internalizing ‘good’ practices, as well as the scaling up and replication of the most relevant approaches towards ‘next’ practices. Innovation also entails moving away from the model of knowledge transfer through external experts towards joint investigation, sense-making and application as a peer-to-peer process, therewith accessing the fast wealth of knowledge which resides within clients as well as what is available externally in the marketplace.
The KICG therefore:
⇒ Recognizes that innovation is a dynamic process in which we continuously need to adapt and re-invent the way we apply knowledge to achieve our development outcomes together with our clients and partners, and therefore need to remain innovative ourselves.
⇒ Sees innovation as extremely dependent on the sharing of diverse knowledge, which is relevant, up-to-date and evidence backed; we therefore focus on strengthening the exchange of knowledge and experience through improved access and transparency of knowledge from development programmes, Communities of Practice, and other relevant tools to support your work.
⇒ Emphasizes the importance of local knowledge in the creation of adaptive and tangible innovation. The sharing of different mindsets and the understanding of challenges through different perspectives are crucial for the creation of innovative solutions.
⇒ Believes in ‘social innovation’ which refers to new strategies, concepts, ideas and institutions that are inclusive and meet the needs of all people — from working conditions and education to community development and health to public policy and governance.
By focusing on ‘inclusive innovation’, UNDP can leverage its neutral convening power and facilitate the fostering of partnerships that can help stakeholders get access to this knowledge. This can be done by designing social innovation camps, labs, centers and initiatives.