In an increasingly multi-polar world, developing countries are taking on a new form of leadership in global development, by contributing their knowledge and innovation to address development challenges. Recognizing the enormous potential of a world in which knowledge is shared and disseminated widely, the World Bank is investing in its role as global broker of knowledge and designing new ways of incorporating knowledge sharing in its overall business, while also working on several pilots to support countries develop their capacity to scale up knowledge sharing.
In the area of country support, a key question for many governments is how available local expertise can be identified and ‘packaged’ for knowledge sharing with peers in other countries. Harnessing the full range of knowledge is certainly a challenge, but in today’s world we also have tools for making the most of available expertise based on successful experiences. A recent Issues Paper the World Bank Institute (WBI) prepared for the G20 development agenda states that knowledge sharing requires smart facilitation at the national level, capable of involving a wide range of actors, including local governments, civil society, private sector and academia. Rather than central coordination, country experiences show that ‘connecting the dots’ is a niche to cover by governments, for example by mapping international knowledge networks (such as Community of Practices) already being used by national players. This is not only efficient, but can also bring benefits in terms of sustainable multi-level partnerships with other countries.
Based on this review of existing practices, the WBI is now engaging in in-depth conversations with governments around the world to explore what the best institutional models are, not only in terms of policy and programmes, but also on how to engage with all national players. An initial screening shows that Singapore has already good experiences of involving the private sector that can share adaptable, innovative business models. Academia plays an important role in Korea’s knowledge sharing, while Brazil and Mexico draw on available expertise in a range of public institutions. For their part, Indonesia can offer insights to a decentralized approach involving local actors in addition to national institutions, while Nigeria draws heavily on individual practitioners and champions.
As an essentially country-led agenda, South-South knowledge exchange is due to become a strong leg of future development cooperation. In its role as multilateral broker and connector, the World Bank will continue to provide demand-driven guidance on practice-proven institutional solutions which are not only efficient, but also take full advantage of the rich and diverse knowledge and expertise in developing countries.
An example of successful South-South collaboration was initiated by 3 Public Sector Management Development Institutions from South Africa, Brazil and India in 2007. This was a joint initiative initiated by PALAMA, South Africa. Examples of innovative solutions to leadership, management and administration were shared amongst the 3 institutions. It was sustainable in that each institutions funded itself and external funds were not required. The annual seminars were hosted by each of the three countries on a rotational basis. The project was hugely successful and the "best" practice cases were written up and presented. This allowed for shared learning and replication of projects, models and practices.
Hi Han! Building on your comment I would like to add the following:
We cannot get to a real SS Knowledge exchange if we do not establish two stages of progress: 1) at national level, 2) international boost. To success on this process the engagement of national actors is essential and should be turned into real political commitment towards an effective SSC. Actually, in most of developing countries the structure of Parliament–Administration-Academia-Civil society-Private sector work as stagnated departments without a fluid line of communication and interaction and in many cases on a constant basis of confrontation. We have identified the following reasons for this situation: too much centralization on central government, (hence, limited knowledge of the real needs of rural regions), political competition, shortage of resources and corruption, among others. This lack of a coordinate action has as a result the failure on an effective national knowledge exchange model.Since we do not achieve successful national models we are unable to build a solid SSKE model.
We welcome the initiative of multinational institutions to explore institutional models of engaging national actors, however this process must come from the countries internally in a real “empowering method”, under the framework of an international strategy that combines political pressure and financial support (particularly on capacity building).
This new role facing by multinational institutions from “project focused” strategy to “empowering societies” represents the main challenge of SS cooperation and the future of the current development cooperation model in itself.