Moving from Transactional to Institutional Knowledge Sharing – Insights from the Seoul HLM on Knowledge Hubs

Around the world, hundreds of country institutions are striving to engage in Knowledge Sharing (KS) in a systematic way, reaching out to partners at home and abroad. Over the past years, KS has been recognized as a third leg of development cooperation, along with technical assistance and financial aid, for example through by the G20, the Global Partnership for Effective Development Cooperation and the emerging post-2015 development agenda. However, today’s KS is often small scale and on-off, facing numerous operational constraints when it comes to preparing and sharing relevant development solutions. In particular sector institutions with strong thematic background could make wider use of KS if the right arrangements were in place.

Panel discussion with representatives from Korea, China, India, Chile and South Africa, at the HLM2 in Seoul, 23 June 2014

To respond to this capacity gap, the recent Second High-Level Meeting (HLM2) on Knowledge Hubs held in Seoul on 23-26 June 2014 provided a milestone of moving from a transactional to an institutional approach to KS (see outcome document here). Co-organized by the government of Korea and the World Bank, this edition reviewed the progress made by country institutions and multilateral partners since the first HLM in Bali (Indonesia) in July 2012. Gathering more than 500 participants from 76 countries, this year’s HLM2 generated practical responses to two main question marks: how to become a knowledge-driven institutions, and how to operationalize KS?

Focusing on institutional and operational solutions, the HLM2 covered an inspiring range of areas using diverse event formats, including high-level panels and world cafes, to roundtables, consultations and practice-based workshops. In this line, the policy panels stressed the unique historical opportunity to prepare countries for knowledge sharing through strong institutional arrangements. Oh-Seok Hyun, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Strategy and Finance of Korea, outlined how Korea’s Knowledge Sharing Program (KSP) promotes mutual learning and enables horizontal partnerships in a systematic and efficient way. Sanjay Pradhan, Vicepresident for Change, Leadership and Innovation at the World Bank, explained that institutions need strong capacities to ensure well-done and structured KS that can accelerate real transformations and development impacts, even in times of financial restrictions.

For her part, Julia Duncan-Cassell, Minister of Gender and Development of Liberia, made a passionate statement on KS as a driver of women’s empowerment, a reason why her Ministry plans stepping up its capacities for mutual learning. Wismana Adi Suryabrata, Deputy Minister of National Development Planning of Indonesia, welcomed the advances achieved since the first HLM, in particular the Community of Practice, and explained how his country is getting ready to share knowledge both domestically and internationally, in critical areas such as Disaster Risk Management. Brijesh Pandey, Deputy Secretary at the Department of Economic Affairs of India, gave insights into how his ministry is working on systematic documentation of India’s development experience in six thematic areas, using information technologies and social media, as well as ensuring better inter-ministry coordination in this field. Finally, Wang Ying, Research Director at the Ministry of Finance of China, outlined her government’s efforts to embed KS strategies into existing platforms and partnerships, in particular with multilateral development banks.

Grounding this outstanding political commitment in concrete action, pioneer institutions from Brazil, China, Chile, Colombia, India, Indonesia, Korea, Mexico, Nigeria and South Africa discussed the following priority areas of institutional and operational capacities to share knowledge:

  • The importance of knowledge vision and strategies at all level of institutional, domestic and international action (with experiences available at Colombia's National Administrative Department of Statistics -DANE- and Nigeria's Lagos Metropolitan Area Transport Authority -LAMATA-)
  • Strong organizational and cross-institutional coordination mechanisms (Korea's Knowledge Sharing Program -KSP- and India's Center for Innovation in Public Systems -CIPS-),
  • Medium and long-term programs with sufficient political, technical and financial backing (Chile's Solidarity and Social Investment Fund -FOSIS-, China's Asia-Pacific Finance and Development Center -AFDC-, and the South Africa-hosted Collaborative Africa Budget Reform Initiative -CABRI-),
  • Capacity to capture, package and exchange knowledge at the organizational and national level, as a preparatory step to scale up cross-country exchanges (Brazilian Association of Sanitary and Environmental Engineering -ABES-, FOSIS, Indonesian National Board for Disaster Management -BNBP-, Mexico's Oportunidades Program, as well as LAMATA), and
  • Smart and cost-efficient monitoring and evaluation tools to be able to show results (FOSIS, DANE, Oportunidades Program).

Group picture of the RT discussion on KS technologies

Adding to these high-value experiences, more than 73 institutions from 38 countries had prepared case stories for the HLM2 which were discussed in depth during a total of ten thematic roundtables. Looking into institutional dimensions, representatives from countries and international partners shared good practices on (i) developing a knowledge and learning culture, (ii) developing an operational governance model for knowledge management and sharing, (iii) developing sustainable financing and business models for knowledge sharing, (iv) fostering partnerships at domestic at international levels and (v) the role of non-state actors for knowledge sharing. At the operational level, the roundtables discussions focused on (i) how to capture and validate development solutions, (ii) how to package knowledge as learning materials, (iii) systematic results-oriented sharing modalities, (iv) measuring of results from KS programs, and (v) the role of technology for systematic scale up of KS.

The sessions showcased manifold initiatives from a large number of institutions, most of which are members of the online community hosted at knowledgehubs.org. Directly addressing the challenges institutions still face, the HLM2 also offered concrete learning opportunities in training modules designed by the World Bank, among them Assessing Institutional Capacity for KS, Organizing the Change Management Process, the Art of Knowledge Sharing, the Art of Knowledge Capturing, and Managing CoP and Networks for KS. These workshops featured lively collaboration among highly motivated participants, many of which returned home with clear-cut plans to improve their institution’s performance in KS.

Wrapping up four days of intense and productive exchanges, the HLM2 outcomes are reflected in the Seoul Communiqué (see pdf here). In this document, participants agreed to future joint efforts by investing in country institutions’ capacities, mobilizing support from relevant partners, making extensive use of the Community of Practices hosted at knowledgehubs.org to deepen the ideas discussed in Seoul, preparing regional events to continue the inter-institutional exchange, and collecting further country-led experiences for the third edition of the HLM planned for 2016.

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Comment by Neydi Cruz on September 29, 2014 at 5:24pm

Excelente contribución para los que no estuvimos ahí. Gracias Nils!!

Comment by Mirza Abdul Shakoor on July 6, 2014 at 1:52pm

 I missed this important meeting due to some unavoidable reasons.But I am glade to hear that all the participants agreed to work jointly and plan to conduct regional events to continue the institutional exchange. Congratulations to the organizers and all the participants for making successful event.I love to organize a meeting in Pakistan and hoping for the cooperation. Thank you.  

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