November 10, 2009 —A hundred teams have arrived to Washington, DC from all corners of the globe, each with an idea to help save the planet.
They are the finalists in the four-day Development Marketplace 2009 competition that started today. They are competing for 25 grants of up to $200,000 each to protect the developing world’s poorest and most vulnerable people from effects of climate change.
The finalists, which come from 47 countries, were winnowed from 1,750 applications proposing innovative but practical ways to protect the poor and vulnerable.
The journeys of several finalists were interrupted by the very kinds of extreme weather that projects are targeting. Eugenio Manalo of a Philippines-based project chose to stay behind and work on relief aid for victims of recent typhoons there. Finalist Lisel Alamilla of Belize, facing poor rural road conditions, had to scrap plans for a commercial flight and charter a single-engine Cessna to Belize City’s international airport. Nidia Matamoros of Nicaragua, a member of the Miskito indigenous group’s project, saw her trip delayed because of storm-canceled flights, but managed to arrive Sunday.
All the finalists’ projects are built around adaptation, which doesn’t stop or slow down climate change, but helps people manage against weather extremes like flooding and drought that are projected to get worse. Such natural disasters, caused or exacerbated by climate change, most often hit the poor and the vulnerable in developing countries.
DM2009 projects tackle three areas:
- Helping Indigenous Peoples, who number 250 million globally and occupy 22 percent of the Earth’s land surface, to better cope with the adverse effects of climate change.
- Developing innovative community-based climate risk management with multiple social and environmental benefits for the vulnerable.
- Developing social safety nets or micro-insurance that diffuse climate-related disaster risks faced by the poor and vulnerable, particularly those who are women, children, the elderly, disabled, or live in conflict-prone areas.
“Our job at WBI is to identify, select, and help scale up innovative solutions, drawing from all the different stakeholders in development work, and that’s exactly what DM2009 finalists bring to this competition," says Sanjay Pradhan, vice president of the World Bank Institute (WBI).
The competition’s climate adaptation theme is well timed as it takes place in the midst of international debate and negotiation about how to mitigate the causes and adapt to the impacts of climate change. In December the UN will hold climate change negotiations in Copenhagen, where the global community will meet to shape an international response to climate change.
Also, in September the Bank published its flagship report World Development Report 2010: Development and Climate Change, which says that developing countries face 75-80 percent of the potential damage from climate change. However, a “climate-smart” world is feasible, but only if countries and individuals act now, act together, and act differently than in the past.
Development Marketplace is also an integral part of climate change efforts within the Bank Group and complements the Pilot Program on Climate Resilience, part of the Climate Investment Funds operated by the multilateral development banks.
Partners who are sponsoring this year’s Development Marketplace include the Global Environment Facility (GEF), International Fund for Agricultural Development, Denmark, and the World Bank Group and its Sustainable Development Network.
“GEF and the Development Marketplace are a good match because they promote innovation at all levels,” says Monique Barbut, CEO and Chairperson of GEF, one of the competition’s sponsors. “In this year’s competition 100 innovative grass-roots ideas to save the planet have been selected out of more than 1,700 applications, and I am delighted that the GEF can continue to provide local support for the global good.”
“I believe that Development Marketplace is a very good example of how to facilitate innovation – giving us tangible solutions on complex development issues like climate change adaptation,” says Ulla Toernaes Danish Minister for Development Cooperation. “We have through our own experience seen how innovation has helped transform Denmark’s energy consumption patterns and created new business opportunities like wind energy.”
Development Marketplace Goes Social
The nine-year-old Development Marketplace Competition is adding another dimension to outreach this year by creating an expanded Web presence with a strong emphasis on multimedia and social media.
Web livestreaming will bring much of the program to people around the globe, including the 47 countries of the finalists. Finalists and visitors will be able to upload videos they shoot on the exhibition floor to the DM2009 channel on YouTube. The DM2009 blog, in addition to carrying up-to-the minute text, image, and video postings and comments, will be a clearing house for DM2009 tweets to Twitter and postings to such sites as Facebook, LinkedIn, Flickr, Delicious and Slideshare.