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Innovation, Sustainabiity, Development: A New Manifesto was launched at the Royal Society in London on 15 June 2010. This presentation opened the event, given by STEPS Centre director Melissa Leach …

Innovation, Sustainabiity, Development: A New Manifesto was launched at the Royal Society in London on 15 June 2010. This presentation opened the event, given by STEPS Centre director Melissa Leach and Manifesto project convenor Adrian Ely. For more information about the project see: http://anewmanifesto.org/

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  • Introduce myself Through the course of the project, we have looked back over 40 years of scholarship in this area and taken on many of the lessons learned. In looking forward, however, we must recognise that the challenges presented today require a new approach… one that respects different contexts in different parts of the world, and which enables different forms of innovation suited to those contexts to flourish. Vision – a manifesto that advocates the diversification and democratisation of innovation, and a project that provides spaces for political debates that contribute to this goal.
  • Looking back – tracing debates back to the original manifesto and beyond.
  • Drawing on current scholarship to bring in cutting-edge ideas, and engaging with contemporary debates: Collecting ideas from international speakers in a dedicated seminar series Commissioning background papers from members of the STEPS Centre (including Sussex Energy Group – one of the ‘domain-specific’ papers) – leading to a draft manifesto – ‘fine-tuned’ following the STEPS Symposium, September 2009 and circulated to roundtable partners
  • Circulated to collaborating institutions for comment, but not to constrain discussion. Roundtables primarily for highlighting different perspectives rather than trying to gather inputs for a representative synthesis. Reported directly (i.e. in their own words) on the website.
  • Perspectives also welcomed at the individual level – these and other inputs
  • This has led us to produce the print manifesto
  • And also the multimedia manifesto, that includes a selection of the resources mentioned previously. On your CD-ROM, specially designed to be usable on the broadest possible range of software/hardware. The new manifesto itself is a product of the STEPS Centre, but the project owes much to many more people. We are sincerely grateful for their contributions, but at the end of the day take full responsibility for what appears in the manifesto text. Hand over to Melissa to introduce this.
  • Thank you to Adrian In the next 20 minutes I want to share with you key elements of the agenda, vision and areas for action highlighted in our Manifesto, before outlining plans for the rest of the day.
  • Our starting point is that while we live in a time of unprecedented advances in science and technology, with global annual spending on R and D now exceeding a trillion dollars, for many people and places poverty is deepening and the environment is in crisis. Thousands of children die daily from waterborne diseases, and more than a billion people go hungry. Meeting the interlinked global challenges of poverty reduction, social justice and environmental sustainability is the great moral and political imperative of our age, and science, technology and innovation of many kinds have essential roles to play. But we believe that this imperative can only be fulfilled if there is a radical shift in how we think about and perform innovation – amounting to a new politics
  • This involves moving beyond business as usual: Beyond a narrow view of science and technology to appreciate innovation more broadly – as new ways of doing things – and the policy practices, institutional capabilities, organisational processes and social relations that constitute innovation systems, which today involve many people, institutions and interactions, across local and global scales.
  • And beyond a view that ‘more’, ‘faster’ innovation will do – defining progress simply by the scale or rate of change – about who is ‘ahead’ or ‘behind’ in some presumed one-track race - Whether that race is to economic growth in an increasingly competitive global economy, or to roll-out one-size fits all technologies targeted to particular health, food or environmental challenges. Equally, the politics of innovation we are arguing for is NOT about being ‘pro’ or ‘anti’ science or technology. It is about addressing real questions of choice, far more explicitly: ‘which science?’, ‘what technology?’ and, especially, ‘whose innovation?’ and ‘what kinds of change?’
  • Bringing such questions centre-stage, we propose a new 3D agenda for innovation, focusing on direction, distribution and diversity. Serious attention to directions of change means asking: ‘what is innovation for?’; ‘which kinds of innovation, along which pathways?’ and ‘towards what goals?’ This includes – but goes beyond –prioritisation across different sectors, such as military, health or energy, to address the particular directions of change supported in any given sector. For instance, even quite a narrow field such as low carbon electricity production presents a host of alternative directions for innovation pathways: from those emphasising small-scale distributed renewable energy; large-scale, centralised renewables in continent-spanning infrastructures; to nuclear fission, and fossil fuels with carbon capture and storage. None of these strategies can be pursued to their full potential without detracting from support for others. This inevitably involves political choices and trade-offs, which need far more serious and democratic deliberation.
  • Deliberation doesn’t take place on a level playing field though. Political-economic interests and the exercise of power support and ‘lock-in’ some pathways, while marginalising, obscuring or crowding-out others. For instance, it is sometimes assumed that high-input, industrial agriculture presents the ideal solution to problems of food supply and hunger – yet this reflects particular perspectives, strongly pushed by powerful institutional and commercial interests. Alternative low-input solutions are often crowded out – despite being effective and efficient in many settings and often working better for resource-poor farmers in riskier environments. Precisely because marginal groups and places so often lose out, we need far more actively to question and challenge the directions of dominant pathways, and to recognise and support alternatives.
  • Direction matters because it shapes the distribution of benefits, costs and risks from innovation. So turning to our second D, for any given problem we need to ask: ‘who is innovation for?’; ‘whose innovation counts?’ and ‘who gains and who loses?’ This means deliberating, explicitly and inclusively, what different innovation pathways imply for equity and justice – across rich and poor, place and circumstance, gender and generation, ethnicity and identity. It also means, we argue, enabling poorer and vulnerable women and men to be far more central to choosing amongst and promoting different innovation pathways, and to be valued as innovators themselves.
  • Here, there are vital opportunities to build far more fully on grassroots, bottom-up innovation processes. This includes building on indigenous knowledges and technologies, rooted in local cultures, histories, practices and struggles for life and livelihood. In valuable participatory approaches to plant breeding, for example, the knowledges and concerns of resource-poor farmers are the starting point, and farmers become involved in selecting and testing plant varieties, bringing their own innovations centrally into the scientific process, enabling justice-oriented adaptation and shaping of technologies. It also includes supporting the many small businesses that are creatively responding to rapid growth in demand among relatively low income groups worldwide. Citizen initiatives and social movements have key roles to play in opening up hidden innovation pathways – with key roles ranging from the origins of global industries like windpower to securing access to affordable medicines and healthcare.   We’re not suggesting that such local innovations and citizen movements offer simple remedies, but recognising, supporting and making space for them can contribute in important ways to the redistribution of power and resources needed for more equitable distribution and greater social justice.
  • In turn, this raises further questions about diversity : ‘what – and how many – kinds of innovation do we need to address any particular challenge?’ To take direction and distribution seriously means deliberately pursuing a diversity of innovation pathways. This is important to resist the processes of concentration and lock-in that close down directions and crowd out the paths that would bring justice to more marginal groups. Greater diversity brings other important advantages. It enables sensitivity to varied ecological, economic and cultural settings. It fosters resilience – hedging against our uncertainty and ignorance about the future. For example, in approaches to crop development in Africa, actively enhancing agro-biodiversity with multiple crop types and varieties responds to varied agronomic and social contexts, as well as offsetting uncertainties linked to global markets and climate change.
  • Fostering diversity can be assisted by protecting creative experimentation by users and businesses in diverse niches – allowing for new markets and innovation pathways to emerge. Many features of mainstream ‘sustainable housing’, for instance, have arisen out of just these kinds of diverse niches, initially supported and protected on the margins. Fostering diversity also means paying serious attention to the social and organisational – as well as technical – dimensions of innovation. For example, in community-led approaches to ‘total’ sanitation, the focus is not the technical challenge of latrine-building, but innovative social and participatory processes that lead to diverse local solutions. However, an argument for diversity does not mean that ‘anything goes’. Diversity must be linked to questions of direction and distribution; with a politics of technological diversity addressing which diverse portfolios – and which particular options within them – present the best ways to address poverty alleviation, social justice and environmental sustainability.
  • What does all this add up to? Arising from the 3D agenda, our Manifesto envisions a world where science and technology work far more directly for social justice, poverty alleviation and the environment. Challenging the dominance of pathways driven simply by private profit and military aims, and going beyond the technical elites in large international, state and commercial organisations, it is a world where the energy, creativity and ingenuity of users, workers, consumers, citizens, activists, farmers and small businesses is unleashed, supported and harnessed. As a result, this is a world where all feasible directions for scientific, technological and wider social innovation are discussed as matters for legitimate political argument, just as in other areas of public policy; shaped, designed and regulated through inclusive, democratic and accountable processes. It is a world where a deliberate diversity of innovation pathways flourishes. There are many worldwide who share – and strive for – this kind of vision. And as our Manifesto project shows, many fantastically exciting examples of work, advocacy and action worldwide that, in different ways, fits elements of what we have called a 3D agenda. The crucial question is: how can such efforts be more widely recognised and supported? Our Manifesto sets out five broad areas of recommendation, targeted to different dimensions and hence actors in innovation systems, which are intended to catalyse and provoke specific concrete actions in different places. I will outline these only briefly now, but there will be opportunities to discuss and elaborate later in the day.
  • The first area proposes that the setting of agendas for science, technology and innovation be informed by an explicitly political consideration of innovation direction, distribution and diversity, with institutional architectures that enable inclusive, democratic debate. So within countries, we recommend that governments establish and support ‘Strategic Innovation Fora‘ that allow diverse stakeholders - including citizens’ groups and social movements representing marginalised interests - to scrutinise both public and private investments in science, technology and innovation, reporting to parliaments. At the international level, we recommend the establishment of a ‘Global Innovation Commission’ - a broadly-constituted deliberative body under a UN umbrella but widely networked into global civil society and holding itself accountable to the most disempowered communities worldwide. The Commission would facilitate open, transparent political debate about major investments with global or trans-boundary implications, and key topics of global concern. The precise constitution and form of such bodies remains open, and they could build on existing architectures; the key point is that they would perform roles that are currently almost entirely neglected by existing institutions.
  • The second area urges that the funding of science, technology and innovation – whether from public, private or philanthropic sources – be geared much more strongly to the challenges of poverty alleviation, social justice and environmental sustainability. We therefore urge that all funding agencies regularly review their portfolios to ensure that a significant and increasing proportion of their investments are directly focused on these challenges, with transparent accounts linked to these criteria made available to public scrutiny We recommend enhancing incentives for private sector investment in innovation geared to these challenges, such as advance purchase agreements, technology prizes and tax breaks. To encourage diversity in innovation pathways, we recommend specific funding allocations to support experimentation in niches whether by private sector, community groups or individual entrepreneurs, and networking and learning across these. In order to help democratise the process of innovation we recommend that procedures are established directly to involve end users of science and technology – including poorer and marginalised people – in the allocation of funding.
  • Our third area argues that capacity building for science, technology and innovation must move beyond a focus on elite science and so-called ‘centres of excellence’ to work more directly for diverse social and environmental needs. We therefore urge an extension of capacity-building support towards what we term ‘bridging professionals’ who are able to link technical expertise with particular social, ecological and economic contexts. This, in turn, will involve investment in new priorities for training and new institutions that actively link science and technology to located needs and demands, together with the building of new learning platforms, both virtual and face-to-face.
  • Our fourth area focuses on organising for 3D innovation. We recommend strategic investment in facilitating and coordinating bodies, complemented by support for local organisations, networks and movements, to link public, private and civil society groups and enable informal, lateral sharing of innovation. Overall, policy and investment should extend its focus from basic science, to emphasise other aspects of the innovation system, including engineering, design, science services, and social entrepreneurship. Further, we recommend that support be increased for open source innovation platforms, with limits placed on narrowly-defined property-based systems which impede competition and constrain 3D innovative activity.
  • Finally, we argue that increased accountability and full transparency must be at the centre of democratised innovation systems. We recommend that in all countries benchmark criteria, relating to the priorities of poverty alleviation, social justice and environmental sustainability, are set and so become the basis of indicators for monitoring innovation systems. We argue for the improvement of data collection systems and methodologies, switching the focus from indicators such as publications, patents and aggregate levels of expenditure, to assessments of the wider development outcomes of innovation efforts. And we propose that all organisations investing in research and development above a certain amount should be required to report on expenditures in relation to these criteria. Such data should be freely available and open to public scrutiny.
  • What is needed is nothing short of a vigorous new critical global politics of innovation No single prescriptive set of actions can be sufficient, or universally appropriate, to achieve this. Success will mean different things in different countries and settings; and will necessarily involve diverse contributions from different people and places, as well as fundamental redistributions of attention, resources and power. We hope that the potential value of actions like those identified here – and of our New Manifesto and its process - is their capacity to help catalyse and enable this new politics, so that human creativity may genuinely rise to the imperatives of poverty alleviation, social justice and environmental sustainability.
  • We intend today’s event to be part of this wider process and have designed the programme accordingly to facilitate debate, critique, argument and alternatives – from diverse people across the globe – and to enrich discussion and identify opportunities for how this and related visions can be realised The next session – before and after the coffee break – will invite responses to the New Manifesto’s vision and agenda from a set of international speakers with particular, and varied, engagements with the issues and process. There will also be opportunity for questions and comment from the floor. Before lunch, we will hear about two other recent Manifestos – from African and Indian settings – that address similar concerns, conducted in association with the EU-funded 'SET-DEV‘ project co-ordinated by Alfonso Alfonsi who is here today. I should also mention the Marathmoli manifesto which emerged directly as a result of our project , and whose convenor Asmita Jayandra is also here. In the afternoon, we home in on how to make all this happen, with a series of breakout groups based around the five Areas for Action that we have identified – but hopefully going way beyond these. Please choose and sign up for a group on the sheets available during the lunch break. Now I will hand over to Ian Scoones to chair the first set of responses.
  • Transcript

    • 1.  
    • 2.  
    • 3. New Manifesto ‘ Project - Process and Activities – Seminars – Background papers - 2009 STEPS Symposium – Draft Manifesto
    • 4. Manifesto Roundtables – highlighting different perspectives
    • 5. "If you had to make one recommendation to the UN, or another global body, about the future of innovation for sustainability and development, what would it be?"
    • 6.  
    • 7.  
    • 8. A New Vision and a 3D Agenda
    • 9. A New Manifesto Meeting the interlinked global challenges of poverty reduction, social justice and environmental sustainability is the great moral and political imperative of our age This requires a new politics of innovation – globally, nationally, locally
    • 10. Beyond S & T - Innovation New ways of doing things Not just science and technology, but innovation systems - encompassing policy practices, institutional capabilities, organisational processes and social relations.
    • 11. Beyond one-track races We must move away from progress defined simply by the scale and pace of innovation And from debates cast as ‘pro’ or ‘anti’ technology W hich science? what technology? whose innovation? what kinds of change?
    • 12. A New 3D Agenda Direction Which kinds of innovation, along which pathways, towards what goals? Within any given field, there are many alternatives e.g. low carbon electricity production – distributed renewables; centralised renewables; nuclear fission, fossil fuels with CCS…. Political choices and trade-offs
    • 13. A New 3D Agenda Power and political-economic interests support and ‘lock-in’ some pathways But they obscure and ‘crowd-out’ others e.g. Food supply and hunger – High-input industrial agriculture vs. low-input alternatives for risky, resource-poor settings Challenge the directions of dominant pathways, recognise and support alternatives
    • 14. A New 3D Agenda Distribution Who is innovation for? Whose innovation counts? Who gains and who loses? Inclusive deliberation over equity and justice implications Poorer and vulnerable people centre-stage – choosing, promoting, innovating
    • 15. A New 3D Agenda Enabling and building on grassroots and bottom-up innovation processes e.g. farmers’ innovations rooted in local knowledge; participatory plant breeding e.g. small businesses innovating to meet the demands of low-income groups Citizen initiatives and social movements
    • 16. A New 3D Agenda
      • Diversity
      • What – and how many kinds of - innovation do we need to address any particular challenge?
      • Diversity of innovation pathways is vital:
      • To avoid lock-in
      • For sensitivity to varied ecological, economic, and cultural settings
      • For resilience in the face of uncertainty
    • 17. A New 3D Agenda Protecting creative experiments in diverse niches e.g. sustainable housing Integrating technical with social and organisational innovation e.g. Community-Led Total Sanitation Politics of technological diversity
    • 18. A Vision for Innovation Science, technology and innovation work far more directly for social justice, poverty alleviation and the environment. The energy, creativity and ingenuity of users, workers, consumers, citizens, activists, farmers and small businesses is harnessed and supported. Innovation is shaped, designed and regulated through inclusive, democratic and accountable processes. A deliberate diversity of innovation pathways flourishes.
    • 19. Areas for Action Agenda Setting Establish national ‘Strategic Innovation Fora’ that allow diverse stakeholders - including citizens’ groups and social movements representing marginalised interests - to scrutinise investments in science, technology and innovation and report to parliaments. Establish an international 'Global Innovation Commission' under a United Nations umbrella to facilitate open, transparent political debate about major technology investments with global or trans-boundary implications.
    • 20. Areas for Action Funding Require public and private bodies investing in science, technology and innovation to ensure that a significant and increasing proportion of investments are directly focused on poverty alleviation, social justice and sustainability, with transparent reporting. Enhance incentives for private sector investment geared to these challenges: e.g. advance purchase agreements, technology prizes, tax breaks. Make specific funding allocations to support experimentation in niches, and networking and learning across these. Establish procedures to involve end users in the allocation of funding.
    • 21. Areas for Action Capacity Building Increase investment in scientific capacity-building that trains 'bridging professionals' who connect research and development activity with business, social entrepreneurs and users. Invest in new or refashioned institutions that actively link science and technology to located needs and demands, and build new learning platforms.
    • 22. Areas for Action Organising Build and support organisations and networks that link public, private and civil society groups, and facilitate informal, lateral sharing of innovation. Extend policy focus from basic science, to emphasise other aspects of the innovation system, including engineering, design, science services, and social entrepreneurship. Increase support for open source innovation platforms, and limit narrowly-defined property-based systems.
    • 23. Areas for Action Monitoring, Evaluation and Accountability Establish benchmark criteria – nationally and globally - relating to the priorities of poverty alleviation, social justice and environmental sustainability as the basis of indicators for monitoring innovation systems. Improve and shift data collection systems and methodologies to enable assessment of the directions, diversity and distributional outcomes of innovation efforts. Require reporting on these criteria to be open to public scrutiny.
    • 24. Realising the Vision Catalysing a vigorous, new global politics of innovation Involving diverse people, places, contributions
    • 25. Today
      • Responses to the New Manifesto
      • Reflections from two other, African and Indian Manifestos
      • Breakout groups around Areas for Action