13 winners from Latin America and the Caribbean are announced as the 2009 Global Development Marketplace on Climate Adaptation concludes

WASHINGTON — Innovative ideas from Latin America took centre stage in Washington

this week, with projects from the region being awarded more than $2.5 million

in grant money through the 2009 Global Development Marketplace, a competitive

grant program to fund innovation in development.

This year’s contest – ‘100 Ideas to Save the Planet’ – set a simple challenge:

come up with one idea from their own communities to help save the planet and

its people from the effects of climate change. This ninth annual Development

Marketplace was co-sponsored by the Global Environment Facility (GEF), the

International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), the Danish Ministry of

Foreign Affairs, and the World Bank Institute.

This year’s event, which ran from November 10-13, featured 100 finalists from

47 countries selected from over 1,700 project proposals. Entries from Latin America performed extremely well this year, with 13

projects from the region winning grants – more than half of this year’s

winners.

“The Development Marketplace is an important part of our mission to break down

funding barriers and promote innovative entrepreneurial ideas at the

grass-roots level.” said Monique Barbut, CEO and Chairperson of the Global

Environment Facility (GEF).

Stand-out ideas from the region this year contest included:

• From Ecuador: International Network for Bamboo and Rattan’s idea to build

elevated bamboo houses, essentially lifting communities in flood zones out of

harm’s way; and

• From Peru: Peruvian Native Community, Kechwa Copal Sacha’s, ingenious project

that fuses traditional knowledge and biomathematics – marrying ancestral and

scientific knowledge to improve sustainable agricultural production.

• From Colombia: Zonal Indigenous Organization of Putumayo’s idea to develop

environmental land management plans based on traditional knowledge

• From The Dominican Republic: Universidad Nacional Pedro Henrique Ureña’s idea

to help mitigate seaside erosion by converting the energy of waves into

electrical energy

Winning ideas receive up to $200,000 in seed money, as well as guidance,

training, and technical support as projects move into implementation. More than

this though, all participants benefit from being able to hone their project

design skills; by participating in knowledge and skills development sessions

designed to help make them better development practitioners on their return

home—win or lose.

“Managing risks from climate change will require not only one hundred, but

thousands of ideas from communities all over the world,” said Katherine

Sierra, Vice President of Sustainable Development at the World Bank. “This

year’s contest was an opportunity to showcase the kind of creative thinking

that can deliver tangible results in our work on climate adaptation. We will be

watching how this year’s winners put their ideas into action.”

This year’s contest took place amid a wider pre-Copenhagen international

discussion around climate change and its effects on developing countries. Many

ideas combined traditional knowledge with 21st-century technology, as

participants found creative ways to innovate, taking cues from both the ancient

and the modern. Ideas included painting rocks around glaciers white to slow

melting, to leveraging mobile telephony and SMS technology to strengthen

disaster preparedness.

“Agriculture is where climate change, food security and poverty reduction

intersect.” said Kanayo F. Nwanze, President of the International Fund for

Agricultural Development (IFAD). “The Development Marketplace is an excellent

platform for scouting and collecting new ideas from diverse sources, fostering

innovative solutions, and developing partnerships in support of climate change

adaptation.”

Past winners have gone on to address pressing needs in their home communities.

Many have seen their project concepts replicated elsewhere. The Kanchan Arsenic

Filter project, a 2003 winner sponsored by the Massachusetts Institute of

Technology, has been scaled up with compelling results. The project, first

implemented in Nepal, has

been expanded to Cambodia, Vietnam and Bangladesh. To date, over 7, 000

filter units have been distributed, serving 30,000 people in the region. Pump

Aid, a 2006 winner of a $120,000 grant, went on to secure an additional $25

million to expand water and sanitation services to reach eight million people

in Zimbabwe and Malawi over five years.

“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,” said 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.”

Speaking at the Development Marketplace award ceremony, Sanjay Pradhan, Vice President

of the World Bank noted, “Among the World Bank’s most important roles is

scanning the horizon for innovative emerging ideas. Then our job is to

identify, select and help scale up those innovative solutions. Development

Marketplace winners over the years have proved the value of bringing fresh

voices and ideas to the development discussion, and that it is possible to turn

good ideas into tangible results.”

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