Development innovation promotes new business models, policy practices, technologies, behavioural insights or ways of delivering products and services that benefit and empower the poor in developing countries.
It includes solutions that have the potential to address important development problems substantially more effectively than existing approaches or address needs not yet met.
We are interested in solutions that benefit and empower the poor and most vulnerable in developing countries.
Three factors are important to us:
- Is it new?
- Does it help the poor?
- Is it a more efficient and effective way of contributing to sustainable development?
2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development
The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development sets ambitious goals and targets for the global community to eradicate extreme poverty in all forms and dimensions. Agenda 2030 calls for bold and transformative action by all stakeholders and to continue with good practices while seizing new and more efficient solutions.
Implementing Agenda 2030 will require new ways to work smarter, more effectively and efficiently for better results and greater impact. This is where innovation is essential.
Building on best practices and the progress made with the Millennium Development Goals, Agenda 2030 requires donors like Canada to think and act differently. Tried and true solutions need to be adapted, adjusted and scaled up, and new approaches to advance development need to be explored, supported and developed. We believe the Government of Canada and our partners can use innovation to deliver change that has an impact and is more effective than using traditional approaches alone.
To be successful, we need revitalized and enhanced partnerships, including strengthening existing partnerships, engaging in new ones, adopting multi-stakeholder ways of working and seizing opportunities for innovation.
In our consultations with Canadians and partners in Canada and abroad, Canada was encouraged to be a leader in development innovation and to include new and innovative ways to deliver its international assistance.
What is Canada doing?
Canada is committed to advancing development innovation, which is reflected in the new Feminist International Assistance Policy. Canada will build innovation into its assistance programs by adopting new business models, policy practices, behavioural insights, technologies and ways of delivering products and services. This will allow us to better respond to constant changes in the development ecosystem.
In line with the international assistance policy, Canada will build innovation into its international assistance, encouraging greater experimentation and scaling-up of new solutions to development challenges.
Innovation, research and results will be focuses and will apply to all six of the action areas of the policy.
Promoting inclusive opportunities
Development innovation is about more than finding innovative solutions. In order to have lasting development impact, these solutions need to create inclusive opportunities for poor and marginalized populations. This means women and girls in particular should play a role in the design, testing, learning and adoption of these solutions.
Women and girls have an important role to play to identify solutions to improve their lives and those of their families and communities. Canada will ensure that they are involved in the innovation process from problem identification to the design, testing and scale-up of innovative solutions.
We are working internally and externally with Canadian and international partners to advance our commitment on development innovation.
We want to foster a culture of innovation, including skills and tools for the design and implementation of innovative policies and programming. We are engaging in an examination of our development policies and mechanisms to consider ways to better support creative and innovative solutions. Further, we are collaborating across government to share experiences and insights on innovation in policy and programming practices and find better ways to deliver on our mandates.
Externally, we are seeking to learn from and support innovation in international development engaged in by our partners and other stakeholders. Through the Canada-wide international assistance review, we gained insights from stakeholders across the country and all around the world on development innovation.
Collaborating with partners for effective practices
One of our key external engagements is with the International Development Innovation Alliance. Canada is a member of the alliance, a forum that brings together multi-stakeholder donors working to advance development innovation.
Canada supports the alliance’s Call for Innovation in International Development. This represents a consensus of key principles to facilitate innovation in the delivery of international assistance. These can guide Canada’s renewed approach to partnerships and delivery. The six key principles are:
- Invest in locally driven solutions
- Take intelligent risks
- Use evidence to drive decision making
- Fail fast and iterate
- Facilitate collaboration and co-creation across sectors
- Identify scalable solutions
Canada is collaborating with our partners to support innovation across sectors in international development, including the following:
- Our collaboration with the International Development Research Centre (IDRC), through the Canadian International Food Security Research Fund (CIFSF), addresses the critical challenge of global hunger through applied research in 25 countries, supporting Canadian-developing country partnerships that test and scale-up practical solutions to increase food production, raise income for farming families and improve nutrition throughout the Global South.
- Our partnership with Grand Challenges Canada supports new and innovative solutions to maternal and newborn health challenges.
- Our investments in the Mennonite Economic Development Agency / Sarona Asset Management and RENEW, and in the standing up of Convergence, significantly contribute to innovative financing arrangements to engage the private sector in development and leverage market forces to produce sustainable development results.
- The Small and Medium Organizations (SMO) Initiative includes support for SMOs with small grants to test ideas that resolve specific development challenges. This initiative will help provide useful evidence and learning to inform our collective development programming.
Innovation will also be part of the ways in which Canada delivers the new Feminist International Assistance Policy. This means that we will seek out new ways of working and new partnerships that can increase the effectiveness of Canada’s development efforts. We will examine ways to improve the tracking and monitoring of results of new innovations while working together with partners for better results and greater impact to empower women and reduce poverty around the world.
- The 2030 agenda for sustainable development
- International Development Research Centre
- Grand Challenges Canada
- Mennonite Economic Development Agency / Sarona Asset Management
- International human rights, inclusive governance and democracy
- Project Browser
- International Development Innovation Alliance (IDIA)
- Canadian International Food Security Research Fund (CIFSRF)
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