A narrative commons for all the ideas, people, technologies, behaviors, and organizations that are working to improve global sustainability.
All Innovations | View recent Innovations
Edward Tse 07/15/15
Entrepreneurs emerging from China are redefining the nature of business—not just in China, but everywhere in the world. The new millionaires and billionaires are determined to ride that wave of growth and see how they can shape it to serve their own ends.
Irene Pedruelo 07/09/15
A conversation with Cesar Harada, inventor, environmentalist, and entrepreneur, on oceans, the difficulties of founding a startup, and letting curiosity guide your learning.
Stanford Social Innovation Review 06/29/15
The work of innovation can be slow and cumbersome—particularly in the social sector. But by adopting a model that is increasingly common in the business world, non-profit organizations can launch, test, and implement new programs and services more efficiently and more effectively.
Policy Innovations 06/15/15
Food waste expert and environmentalist, Tristram Stuart, has had an unexpectedly big idea that could change the world.
"The Guardian" newspaper has waged an unprecedented campaign to keep fossil fuels "in the ground" as part of the fight against climate change.
"Coach" Mark Smallwood 05/05/15
Mark Smallwood, executive director at Rodale Institute, claims that a global shift to regenerative organic agriculture can reverse climate change.
Irene Pedruelo 04/22/15
A conversation about cities, suburbs, and the consequences of exporting the "Western" city model to the world with Ethan Kent, senior vice president of Project for Public Spaces.
Moses Sitati 04/08/15
The "data revolution" is underway, ushering a smart era of humanitarian and development work.
Stanford Social Innovation Review 04/06/15
Why general funding for non-profit organizations is the future of innovation.
Rachel Burstein, Ann Kowal Smith 03/16/15
A pioneering organization is using literature to enable other sorts of conversations at the workplace—the types of conversations that successful companies need to have.
Irene Pedruelo 03/11/15
A team of entrepreneurs based in San Francisco is turning the out-of-date diagnostic industry upside down.
Jordan Figueiredo 03/04/15
England and France are using creativity to push consumers to buy "ugly" fruits and vegetables.
Policy Innovations 02/27/15
New research supports the need for North American cities to really shift towards "slower" modes like walking and cycling.
OpenLabel provides reliable information about the sustainability of 20 million products. The days of nontransparent labeling may soon be gone.
Policy Innovations 02/11/15
This Dutch designer is transforming the way cities and urban landscapes work and feel. Glowing trees and smart roads are just two of his revolutionary ideas.
Policy Innovations 01/22/15
Kathryn Redford has a mission: revolutionize the meat industry. How? By using insects in animal feed, instead of soy or corn.
The Lancet Global Health 11/25/14
Despite the evident benefits inherent to open disease research and treatment development, investment in open labs has been scarce.
Two young activists are trying to buy Berlin's electric grid in order to promote renewable energy.
The illegal wildlife trade has long been ignored in Peru, but changes are afoot.
Esther Dyson 08/27/14
Four Dutch engineers have started a revolution. They have developed plan production units the size of a city block and just a few stories high capable of producing the same volume of crops as a large farm.
Jason Gregg, Joe Noci 07/18/14
In Namibia, Joe and Gisela Noci's Survoyeur drones, which they design and build from scratch, have proven to be effective anti-poaching tools.
John Haffner, Scot Frank, Catlin Powers 06/16/14
With a solar cooker designed through community consultation, two young innovators are delivering clean energy to remote mountain villages, as well as your backyard BBQ.
Aditi Sen 06/11/14
India's National Green Tribunal provides the country with a more accountable legal mechanism to protect the environment and those whose livelihoods depend on it.
Project Syndicate 05/16/14
Once notorious for its drug gangs, the tale of the Medellín's innovative transformation holds important lessons for urban areas everywhere.
Creative Time 05/08/14
Artist Mel Chin is working with Sahrawi refugees in northwest Africa to develop a local currency backed by solar power generation.
Project Syndicate 05/06/14
Government surveillance and Heartbleed-type security scares have shaken faith in online freedom, yet Brazil pushes ahead with an Internet bill of rights protecting net neutrality.
Stanford Social Innovation Review 05/01/14
An experiment in design thinking has jump-started a mediation program in a neighborhood of Monrovia that was underserved by the justice system.
The e-bike gains momentum as sales double in the United States in only a year. Is this the start of a new bubble or a real transportation revolution?
Former San Francisco planning advisor Eugene Leong gives ten key policy lessons for China's leadership on mitigating air pollution.
Project Syndicate 03/24/14
There cannot be universal access to education without an agreement that we will cater to young people in conflict zones. A pilot project in Lebanon leads the way.
Ethics & International Affairs 03/20/14
Eliminate extreme inequality at the national level in every country. This idea should be included in the world's development goals.
Project Syndicate 03/06/14
Innovative development finance can mobilize private capital and public funding to create and commercialize technologies for regulating the trade in endangered species.
Wildlife Conservation Society 12/18/13
What would UAV developers design if they could imagine their inventions through the eyes of front-line wildlife conservation staff?
Nicholas Rutherford discusses trends in humanitarian innovation and the annual AidEx conference he runs where the sector meets to talk shop.
Project Syndicate 10/24/13
Can artificial photosynthesis cure us of our fossil fuel dependency? Scientists at the California Institute of Technology say the field is primed for a breakthrough.
Project Syndicate 10/02/13
An education investment bank, capitalized in part by a financial-transactions tax, could extend high-quality schooling to all the world's children.
Judy Manning, Zeda Rosenberg 09/26/13
New sexual and reproductive health innovations have the potential to revolutionize options for women by diversifying delivery forms, varying product duration, and targeting multiple health risks simultaneously.
Jan Hofmeyer 09/06/13
A new study by Bertelsmann Foundation analyzes fairness between the young and the old, and provides policy solutions for governments in aging societies.
Ghana Bamboo Bikes 09/04/13
A bamboo bicycle builder in Ghana is working to end the triple problem of poverty, unemployment, and environmental degradation by training rural migrants in manufacturing and business.
Project Syndicate 08/22/13
Two German researchers propose a system for recuperating the recyclable metals and toxic substances in our old mobile phones.
Eva Kaplan 08/05/13
Maria's Libraries is redefining what libraries can do for community development through a connected network of libraries across Kenya.
Project Syndicate 07/19/13
A radical reassessment of work, skill formation, retirement, and leisure is needed to cope with aging societies and evolving technologies.
Project Syndicate 07/11/13
Intelligent industrial policy should recognize errors and revise strategies accordingly. In the context of green growth, efforts to boost domestic industries can be globally desirable.
The Primate Education Network is a one-stop shop for conservationists to connect and build relationships, share resources and best practices, and receive training.
Wildlife Conservation Society 05/17/13
Several major wildlife organizations collaborated on a free, open-source Spatial Monitoring and Reporting Tool to help park rangers improve their anti-poaching patrols.
Bill Baue, Cary Krosinsky, Mark McElroy 05/13/13
We need to develop investment strategies explicitly tied to objective, science-based planetary boundaries and local ecological thresholds.
ICE Coalition 04/24/13
Subject matter expertise. Compulsory jurisdiction. Standing for non-state actors. Precise and enforceable language. It's time to consider a court for the environment.
Jomo K. S.
Project Syndicate 04/19/13
Over the last six years, roughly $6 billion has been allotted to innovative sources of development financing, and some recent proposals promise to raise far more.
Eric Zencey 03/26/13
Only through a composite metric of progress and happiness can governments measure and deliver what matters most: sustainable well-being.
Rocco Nuri, Neha Bhat 03/21/13
The UN refugee agency is adopting an innovation-centered approach in pursuit of better services, products, and outcomes for displaced populations.
John Haffner, Ma Jun 02/11/13
Chinese environmentalist Ma Jun walks the line between transparency and activism in his quest to clean China's air, land, and water.
There is a road map for bluer skies in China: first monitoring and publication of air-quality data, then useful public health warnings, and finally targeting emissions at the source.
Project Syndicate 01/17/13
Digital empowerment is a long and ongoing process, says Bill Gates, but he remains optimistic that technological innovation will improve the lives of the poorest people.
Global Currency Union 01/08/13
Danish innovator Jesper Toft has developed a new exchange rate mechanism that enables currencies to relate in a more stable manner, free from political influence.
Worldwatch Institute 01/04/13
Jamaica is currently at a crossroads, where the policies adopted today can create a sustainable future in 2030 with the right tariffs, infrastructure, and financial incentives.
Nassim Nicholas Taleb
Project Syndicate 01/04/13
Accountability has roots in ancient ethics, says Nassim Taleb: an eye for an eye. The essence of this simple risk-management rule deserves a revival in 2013.
Raji Ajwani-Ramchandani 12/11/12
With technical assistance from a local NGO, poor farmers in Maharashtra have been able to supplement their seasonal income by cultivating organic jasmine buds.
United Nations University 12/06/12
Policy innovations that help to deploy renewable energy technologies are key to avoiding the Valley of Death, the gap between lab and marketplace.
Ivan Pinto, Dinara Rafikova 11/21/12
With educated youth and a nation awakening to its social and political needs, the time is ripe for social entrepreneurs to flourish in post-revolutionary Tunisia.
Ethics & International Affairs 11/12/12
When they are prepared to work hard and innovate, non-permanent members can leave an indelible mark on the UN Security Council, as Canada did through its activism on the Angola sanctions committee.
Seth Kaplan 11/05/12
Measuring how countries develop is all the rage, but are these indicators examining the most appropriate data? Seth Kaplan says it's time we start looking more at social and political performance.
3D printing is the new frontier in manufacturing, with potentially radical effects on patterns of global trade and development.
International Institute for Environment and Development 10/15/12
The Asian Coalition for Community Action is challenging the top-down Big Aid funding model by providing small grants to low-income communities for the initiatives of their choosing.
Raji Ajwani-Ramchandani 09/10/12
Microfinance groups have helped the women of Chimbali village overcome the constraints of physical access to banks, lack of education, and social taboos to build vibrant lives.
Stephanie Bailey 08/27/12
Through virtual simulation of anti-trafficking policies, enforcement agencies would get a better grasp on how to target their efforts.
Center for Global Development 08/23/12
Many people cross international borders because their lives have been ruined by an earthquake, flood, drought, or hurricane. But they face a black hole of international law.
Project Syndicate 08/22/12
The new UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network aims to mobilize global knowledge and action around cutting-edge approaches for saving the planet.
Laura Hosman 08/16/12
An innovative project is bringing solar-powered Internet to a tiny off-grid Pacific island. While the technology is exciting, its success depends on a combination of training, skill-building, and partners.
Tanya Snyder 08/15/12
With global car usage on the rise, there is great need for investment in sustainable transportation modes. Fortunately, international development banks are adding transit projects to their portfolios.
Project Syndicate 08/09/12
With the right policies in place, and unhurried fair negotiation of contracts, natural resources can be blessing for developing countries.
Alastair Parvin, Evan O'Neil 08/02/12
The WikiHouse open-source construction set enables users to download, modify, and share designs for small structures, which can then be assembled socially in about a day.
Asmita Agribusiness 06/25/12
Two young entrepreneurs launched a venture combining ethical finance and scientific crop management to boost yields and profitability for the suicide-prone farmers of India.
Environmental lawyer Polly Higgins proposes a radical solution for environmental sustainability: Make ecocide a crime against peace on par with war-time violations of human sovereignty.
Susana Martinez-Restrepo, Daniela Gregr 06/11/12
The experimental Ti Manman Cheri conditional cash transfer program was launched on Mother's Day 2012 in Haiti to help mothers educate their children in some of the most precarious neighborhoods of Port-au-Prince.
Seth Kaplan 05/29/12
With a national government plagued by corruption and poisoned by dependence on oil money, state- and city-led development may be the best way for Nigeria to achieve progress.
Project Syndicate 05/14/12
The best recent work in development policy indicates a convergence around diagnostic, pragmatic, experimental, and context-specific strategies.
Worldwatch Institute 05/11/12
Worldwatch is partnering with IRENA to help governments develop policies that can best utilize renewable energy's potential for national growth and development.
Raji Ajwani-Ramchandani 03/13/12
Through cultivation of organic mango orchards, Adivasi families in India have been able to build sustainable income and supply the processed-food markets.
Seth Kaplan 03/12/12
The incoming World Bank president should create a more sophisticated system for classifying countries as low or middle income, using broad development indicators.
Kasiisi Porridge Project 02/24/12
An innovative NGO in Uganda has helped bring daily porridge to hungry schoolchildren, and it is now expanding with a 20-acre multipurpose farm and indigenous forest to make the project sustainable.
International Development Economics Associates (IDEAs) 01/09/12
Myanmar is ripe for social and economic innovation. A decent work and social protection agenda, combined with an industrial strategy, would help during its political transition.
Project Syndicate 11/28/11
Since the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species entered into force in 1983, it has led to agreements to conserve more than 26 creatures, so that future generations can also marvel at these nomads of the natural world.
An open innovation design competition in Haiti has yielded housing prototypes that can improve ventilation and potentially reduce the transmission of infectious diseases.
Project Syndicate 10/11/11
The trust fund to protect Ecuador's rain forest needs $100 million by the end of the year, or else the call for oil drilling will become unstoppable. The international community must not let this happen.
Sean McGuire 10/06/11
A front-line implementer of the Genuine Progress Indicator explains his epiphany of seeing GDP growth diverge from alternative measures of well-being.
Institute for Transportation & Development Policy 09/16/11
Urban advocates, planners, officials, and artists join forces each September to install miniature parks and pop-up cafes in parking spaces normally reserved for cars.
Project Syndicate 09/07/11
The United States and Europe signed a historic agreement to cooperate against the global scourge of pirate fishing through better monitoring and enforcement.
Instead of mandating a minimum investment in energy-efficiency programs, policymakers are designing incentives that reward utilities with new revenue for meeting or exceeding conservation goals.
Verité's new Fair Hiring Toolkit is a clearinghouse of tools and techniques for managing labor brokers and protecting migrant workers from exploitation during recruitment.
Thomas Palley 07/21/11
A global minimum wage system would establish a set of rules for determining local minimum wages, and it would reconnect wages with productivity growth.
Kathryn M. Martorana
Oxfam America 07/12/11
The SEC has an opportunity to demonstrate that the United States takes transparency and accountability seriously and intends to act as a global leader in fostering secure, equitable, long-term resource partnerships with developing nations.
Move This World 07/11/11
From Bogota to the Bronx, Dance 4 Peace is teaching young people the empathy and social skills they need to promote peace in their communities.
Project Syndicate 06/20/11
Marine management remains a fragmented patchwork of national and international bodies, with separate and often overlapping jurisdictions, and no global accountability.
Though their ridership stats are heading in opposite directions, China and San Francisco are both committed to bicycle policy innovations.
Project Syndicate 06/08/11
The campaign to ensure that extractive industries disclose all payments in their host countries is gaining momentum, and France is leading the effort.
An Intergovernmental Panel on Systemic Economic Risk would help innovative financial regulations spread from country to country and avoid future crises.
H. T. Goranson
Project Syndicate 04/06/11
The catastrophes in Japan might finally achieve what decades of conflict in the Middle East have not: compel governments to invest in the research required to develop viable energy alternatives.
Laurance Allen 04/05/11
Health and nutrition pioneer Steve Collins is building a social enterprise to battle severe acute malnutrition with ready-to-use therapeutic foods grown and manufactured in the developing world.
John Haffner, Zhang Yue 03/28/11
Air conditioning pioneer Zhang Yue has bold ideas for energy efficiency, sustainable buildings, and corporate culture: discipline today to preserve life in the future.
Susan Aaronson, Ian Higham 02/28/11
Corporate executives should never have to apologize for violations when they can instead build global opportunities by advancing human rights.
Saleem H. Ali, Gary Flomenhoft 02/17/11
As we struggle to tackle financial and ecological sustainability, sovereign wealth funds such as in Alaska deserve far greater attention for positive adoption.
K. Cyrus Habib, John Haffner 02/10/11
Rather than bowing to the conservative phobia of global law study, American law schools should meet the growing demand for globally literate legal practitioners.
Patricia Lynne Duffy 01/12/11
A grant for a Ugandan library served as the root for entrepreneurial ventures: a reusable sanitary pad factory, chair rentals, a vegetable nursery, and educational programs.
Malavika Jain Bambawale
Project Syndicate 01/03/11
Off-grid renewable energy technologies represent a viable solution for reaching the 1.5 billion people in the world without access to electricity.
Project Syndicate 12/13/10
If governments did not mislead their citizens so often, there would be less need for secrecy, and if leaders knew that they could not rely on keeping the public in the dark, they would have a powerful incentive to behave better.
Saleem H. Ali, Bharath Gopalaswamy 11/24/10
The United States should play a more active role in building trust between India and Pakistan around nonpolitical issues such as science and sustainability.
John Haffner, Kongjian Yu 11/22/10
Landscape architect Kongjian Yu is pioneering energy efficient and spiritually enriching designs to reconnect China's rapid urbanization to the land.
United Nations University 11/15/10
We find ourselves on top of an oil and plastic mountain, and the only way forward is down. A Japanese inventor leads the way with a machine to make oil out of plastic.
Project Syndicate 11/15/10
Climate change requires an alternative paradigm that combines realism with a positive global vision. "Climate neutrality," or working toward net zero emissions, could present a better target.
United Youth Development Organization 11/02/10
United Youth Development Organization facilitates peer-to-peer microlending between young people to tap their energy and innovation for sustainable entrepreneurship and development.
Jeb Brugmann, Evan O'Neil 10/28/10
We must become masters of a sustainable, just, and ecological urbanism writes Jeb Brugmann in his analysis of how the advantages of urban settlement are changing our societies and the face of the Earth.
Corporate Eco Forum 09/23/10
Sustainability is changing the way businesses think about innovation, writes Jeffrey Hittner of Corporate EcoForum.
Inventor Larry Burns of GM describes his vision for the future of personal transportation in a world of megacities.
Making It: Industry for Development 08/16/10
Training women entrepreneurs to set up their own renewable energy businesses could bring hope to the 1.6 billion energy-starved people all over the world.
Indian Institute of Journalism & New Media 08/13/10
The Shanti Bhavan school helped erase my illiteracy through an education not confined to the pages of a textbook; an education demanding open-mindedness; an education not tainted by prejudices based on gender or caste.
Making It: Industry for Development 08/05/10
If state involvement in economic activity has now become imperative, how can we ensure that such involvement is democratic and accountable?
Dave Andrews, Godfrey Boyle, Gregor Czisch, Mark Delucchi, Mark Z. Jacobson, Nick Jenkins, Daniel Kammen, Roy Morrison, Andrew Smith, Candida Spillard 07/19/10
Fossil fuel business as usual courts ecological catastrophe, resource wars, failed states, and mass migration of the desperate. Ten prominent clean energy analysts, researchers, and engineers voice their support for eliminating 80 percent of fossil fuel use in the next 20 years.
Yale Environment 360 07/14/10
New technologies, feed-in tariffs, and tax credits are helping to propel the small wind industry, especially in the United States. Once found mostly in rural areas, turbines are now popping up on urban rooftops.
Saleem H. Ali, Markus M. Mueller 06/23/10
Incorporating environmental issues in conflict resolution may have positive psychological effects on the willingness of parties to cooperate.
Artfully Unforgotten 06/10/10
Afghan women are the last ones to see themselves as merely victims. The creative nonprofit Artfully Unforgotten helps tell their stories of resilience through artistic media.
TED, Integrated Rural Development and Nature Conservation 06/08/10
When a Namibian NGO set out to protect wildlife, hiring poachers with intimate knowledge of the bush was the obvious but counterintuitive choice. Now nature conservancies cover millions of hectares and generate sustainable local revenue.
Yes! Magazine 04/21/10
Citizens of Chicago's 49th Ward are experimenting with a new system to decide how public money is spent.
Project Syndicate 04/13/10
Economists enamored of the neoliberal Washington Consensus may have written off industrial policy, but successful economies have always relied on government policies that promote growth by accelerating structural transformation.
Project Syndicate 04/05/10
The shift of economic and political power from West to East does not signal an Asian Century, but rather the first Global Century, marked by interdependence and reciprocal progress.
Daniel J. Gerstle
HELO Magazine 03/26/10
Since 2008, Nadim Mahmud and Frontline SMS: Medic have been deploying text-messaging platforms in rural Africa and Asia to link their health workers with doctors at faraway hospitals.
Plans for a coal power plant in northern Borneo have run into stiff opposition, and new research by the Renewable and Appropriate Energy Laboratory shows that better alternatives exist locally anyway.
Whitney Eulich 03/16/10
With an unconventional planning methodology, the Urban Think Tank envisions solutions for the barrio communities of Caracas.
Wildlife Conservation Society 03/10/10
Afghanistan's rich heritage of biodiversity is threatened by conflict. Yet conservation matters for more than just wildlife: It can, and should, provide a way for rural Afghan communities to manage their natural resources.
SweatFree Communities 03/01/10
Although efforts to adopt decent labor standards through free trade agreements are stymied on the international level, a network of activists are working to make ethical procurement a government priority in the United States.
Permaculture Research Institute 02/09/10
Geoff Lawton of the Permaculture Research Institute discusses how to strategize and deploy sustainable local food production across Haiti as part of earthquake relief and long-term recovery.
Islay Energy Trust 02/05/10
An innovative tidal power installation off the coast of Scotland could help demonstrate the ocean's potential for delivering renewable energy.
Yes! Magazine 01/20/10
The Global Innovation Commons is a massive interactive archive of energy-saving technologies whose patents have expired, been abandoned, or simply have no protection.
Anjanette DeCarlo, Saleem H. Ali 01/19/10
A composite indicator is needed to substantiate the impact of community-led reconciliation processes and to better target sustainable development aid in post-conflict zones.
Millennium Foundation 11/30/09
Policy Innovations talks with Bernard Salome, managing director of the Millennium Foundation, about raising funds for global health through small donations made when people purchase travel.
Mohamed Nasheed 11/13/09
If vulnerable developing countries make a commitment to carbon neutrality, those opposed to change have nowhere left to hide.
The Breakthrough Institute 11/12/09
Modeled on the National Institutes of Health, a new National Institutes of Energy would effectively apply R&D funding to the goal of developing new, low-cost commercial clean energy technologies.
Thousands of alternatives to the corporate model have sprouted up over the past few decades -- worker-owned companies and cooperatives, neighborhood corporations and trusts, community-owned technology centers, and municipally owned enterprises.
Alanna Hartzok 10/20/09
An economic restructuring based on a full understanding of the role of economic rent is needed for a new economic framework beyond both the old right and the old left.
John Lash 10/16/09
The largest fuel shift in world history will push America's antiquated electricity system to evolve into a smart grid, and in the process it will also reshape the geopolitical energy map.
Saleem H. Ali 10/09/09
Certain resources are destined for depletion if they become locked into built infrastructure or recovery costs prove too high. But this could all change if more attention is paid globally to material cycling and consumer responsibility. We need a global strategy for efficient minerals extraction, use, and reclamation.
YaleGlobal Online 09/22/09
Earlier this month in Rome, ninety-one countries reached an agreement to halt illegal fishing by denying unlawful catches the possibility of being landed in ports.
Devin T. Stewart
Transparency International 09/21/09
Policy Innovations interviews Robin Hodess of Transparency International on her organization's brand new Global Corruption Report 2009, which this year focuses on corruption and the private sector.
Project Syndicate 09/17/09
Are statistics giving us the right signals about what to do? In our performance-oriented world, measurement issues have taken on increased importance: What we measure affects what we do.
Project Syndicate 09/15/09
For more than a decade, a single patent owner disrupted the bean market in the United States and Mexico. Although the patent was eventually rescinded, the case shows how the intellectual property system facilitates monopolization of public and collective resources.
Commission on the Measurement of Economic Performance and Social Progress 09/14/09
The Commission's aim is to identify the limits of GDP as an indicator of economic performance and social progress, to consider additional information required for the production of more relevant indicators, to discuss how to present this information in an appropriate way, and to assess the feasibility of alternative measurement tools.
Project Syndicate 09/09/09
Most experts agree that there are no ready-made formulas or recipes for how to innovate. But is it possible to create the appropriate conditions under which innovation may flourish?
new economics foundation 08/11/09
The fact that economic growth can be conceived of in opposition to the health of the planet suggests that neither can claim to be regarded as the true overall measure of success in human society. A much more convincing case is made by the concept of well-being.
Anthony F. Lang, Jr. 07/30/09
The recent confirmation hearings of Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor touched upon a central issue of the international legal and moral order: natural law and global constitutionalism.
Project Syndicate 07/29/09
Mohamed ElBaradei proposes a key measure to strengthen non-proliferation: Establish an IAEA bank of low-enriched uranium to guarantee supplies to countries that need nuclear fuel for their power reactors.
Saleem H. Ali 07/02/09
With the Tibetan plateau serving as a third pole of available water, and the rift widening between China and the Dalai Lama's government in exile, it is high time that innovative strategies be considered for conflict resolution and water scarcity in Asia.
Imagine a free-fire zone for sustainable innovations, where new approaches could be tested rapidly without institutional, legal, and regulatory inertia.
IBM recently completed its second annual survey of senior executives from around the world on the importance of green and sustainability issues to their corporate strategies, and the results are encouraging in some respects. But they also indicate how far businesses still need to go to be truly sustainable.
Project Syndicate 06/01/09
Excitement about electric cars abounds nowadays, but consider the number of existing gasoline-powered cars: about 850 million. It would take years of new-car sales to make a dent in that number, so why not keep the cars but replace their engines?
Roy Morrison 05/28/09
As the planet warms and the economy cools, renewable resources are emerging as a realistic means to solve both problems in a timely fashion. Advocates of renewable energy want trillions of dollars spent in the coming decades on a continental-scale smart grid that will slash global greenhouse gas emissions and turn society toward a prosperous and ecological future.
YaleGlobal Online 05/26/09
Western governments are pretending to take actions that alleviate climate change. But their cap-and-trade approach is a minuscule tweak to business-as-usual, worshiped by lawmakers who are afraid to confront fossil special interests. What is needed is a gradually rising fee on the carbon content of oil, gas, and coal, with proceeds distributed fully to the public.
YaleGlobal Online 05/08/09
Scott Barrett recommends that the United States negotiate a skeleton agreement in time for Copenhagen, and follow up with supporting agreements focusing on individual gases, sectors, and R&D efforts. Success in Copenhagen should not be defined by setting goals that lack domestic support and that cannot be enforced, but by laying a foundation for making incremental improvements over time.
Rita J. King 05/05/09
One means to revitalize the post-Katrina Louisiana economy is to educate a digital workforce steeped in twenty-first century skills: creative collaboration, communication, and interactive media such as video games.
Policy Innovations is pleased to announce the winners of its Spring 2009 Poetry Contest. The following five submissions, each from a different city, represent the inspiration we had hoped to spark with this contest. Thank you to all who participated!
Jonathan Cristol 04/09/09
As part of a future two-state solution, Jonathan Cristol proposes making Jerusalem a free city, fully open to both Israeli and Palestinian passport holders.
Carbon Trust 04/08/09
Michael Rea and Scott Kaufman of the Carbon Trust discuss their efforts to bring about a low-carbon economy through energy efficiency at mass scale, the incubation of emerging green technologies, and product life-cycle analysis and carbon labeling.
Center for Economic and Policy Research 04/01/09
One method for Congress to quickly boost demand in the economy while at the same time promoting important public ends is an employer tax credit for paid time off.
International Simultaneous Policy Organisation 03/31/09
Instead of a global race to the bottom, coordinated international action could help governments make tough policy choices without scaring off capital and factories. John Bunzl explains his Simultaneous Policy campaign.
Hazel Henderson 03/18/09
The April G-20 summit in London should aim to achieve oversight of global banks and other financial players. Transparent foreign exchange reporting and a currency transaction tax would help.
Global Ethics & Integrity Benchmarks is a tool for helping multinational organizations assess and measure their progress in making a formal and transparent commitment to ethics and integrity in the workplace.
In this strategy+business interview, William Haseltine explains the medical, energy, and industrial implications of the revolution in genetic science.
Think Impact 03/05/09
The Student Movement for Real Change spearheaded a dam expansion project in Kayafungo, Kenya, as a way to alleviate the growing water crisis.
Since bank capital will likely be further depleted as the credit crunch spreads into the productive economy, peer-to-peer finance offers a solution from an entirely unexpected direction.
John Lash 02/09/09
The particulate matter called black carbon is the second most potent greenhouse warming agent after carbon dioxide. Filtering it out of diesel emissions today would have a quick impact on climate change.
When faced with a difficult situation such as product liability, do you tell the truth or hide it? How can the practice of consciousness, discipline, and empathy help organizations make ethical decisions?
Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists 01/12/09
A nuclear-weapon-free zone in Central Asia supported by the major nuclear weapon states will send a strong message to other regions that might consider following suit.
Roy Morrison 12/18/08
The concept of sustainability is used as a policy guide today, but beyond this important sense of applied ethics sustainability must also become a science.
Louise Pascale 12/11/08
Restoring traditional music to the schoolchildren of Afghanistan has helped to spread literacy and rebuild culture and community that was censored by the Taliban.
Seth Kaplan 10/14/08
The scale of Congo's resource curse, weak governance, and civil war calls for policy changes beyond anything typically contemplated by the international community.
Innovations: Technology, Governance, Globalization, Transparency International 10/01/08
Transparency International was founded to fight systemic corruption ranging from large procurement contracts that impede national development down to petty extortion on the local level.
Roy Morrison, Pentti Aalto 08/14/08
At home or on the city level, cogeneration of electricity and heat is one of the most promising means of using existing technologies to increase efficiency, save money, and slash emissions.
Saleem H. Ali, Haris N. Hidayat 08/11/08
For centuries, Muslims considered Indonesia to be Islam's most distant outpost. Yet this diffuse country with multiple identities is leading the way in the greening of Islamic politics.
Campaign for the Establishment of a United Nations Parliamentary Assembly 07/28/08
As a hinge between parliaments, civil society, the UN, and governments, a United Nations Parliamentary Assembly could become an important catalyst for the reform and development of the international system.
Project Syndicate 06/16/08
Drilling for nonconventional geothermal energy could deliver clean base-load power to the grid.
Project Syndicate 06/10/08
Open Education promises to turn the current textbook production pipeline into a vast dynamic knowledge ecosystem that is in a constant state of creation, use, and improvement.
YaleGlobal Online 06/06/08
With the price of oil skyrocketing, the only way out is for Western nations, the gluttonous users of petroleum, to cut their consumption and emulate Japan in its consistent drive for energy efficiency and alternate sources.
Barry Herman 05/06/08
The financing for development conference to be held later this year in Doha could set the stage for building economic and financial multilateralism in a new mold.
David Shinn, Joshua Eisenman 04/24/08
China's presence in Africa is often viewed as part of the scramble for resources, but it also opens the door to U.S.-China cooperation on energy, security, corruption, and health.
Roy Morrison 04/22/08
Southern New Hampshire University is experimenting with parking lot solar to charge electric cars and feed renewable energy back into the grid.
Roy Morrison 03/25/08
Instead of being price takers in an unstable power market, customers can use renewable energy hedges to transform their purchases into a tool for sustainability.
Global Links Initiative 03/11/08
The Global Links Initiative amplifies the new trend of social entrepreneurship in China through its multi-country network.
Karl P. Sauvant
Project Syndicate 03/10/08
An Investment Contract Aid Facility could help negotiate fair and durable agreements between poor countries and natural resource companies.
Didier Jacobs 03/03/08
John McCain introduced the idea of global democracy during his 2008 U.S. presidential election campaign. The idea is worth exploring, and perhaps further than McCain intended.
TRACE International, Inc. 02/29/08
As a neutral third party, TRACE works with commercial competitors to address the challenges they all face, delivering an antibribery message to corrupt officials.
John Lash 02/13/08
The climate crisis requires better tools to compare the true environmental value of greenhouse gas reduction versus sequestration, so that we know whether to invest our limited resources in efficiency or forests, renewable energy or carbon storage.
Center for Fair and Alternative Trade Studies 01/31/08
The Fair Trade movement is a promising vehicle for alternative globalization, yet its dramatic growth has fueled a number of new challenges. Has Fair Trade's original agenda been eroded by the market forces it set out to change?
Center for Economic and Policy Research 01/17/08
Recession could open the door for stimulus that is both progressive and climate-friendly, especially if targeted at housing and transportation.
David Lempert 01/16/08
Money stuffed in envelopes. Gifts of cars, computers, and overseas junkets. It sounds like the criticism typically leveled at corrupt MNCs, but it also occurs in the international development community. A Donor Monitor NGO could bring accountability and standards to the field.
Project Syndicate 01/07/08
In cases of low voter turnout, a minority of the population can determine a country's future, leaving a discontented majority. Compulsory voting laws can keep democracy robust and governments responsive.
Robert M. Cutler 01/04/08
Cooperative energy security for sustainable development implies a long-term balancing of energy, environment, and economic development. Only a strategic triad of publics, governments, and industry can bring to bear the distributed knowledge required to accomplish this task.
Scott Snyder 12/11/07
The North Korean famine of the mid-1990s posed challenging ethical and humanitarian dilemmas for foreign aid workers who responded to the crisis. It also yielded a paradox: Despite the antipathy of the North Korean system to outside religious influence, it is primarily American NGOs with financial backing from religious organizations that have maintained development and exchange programs with the DPRK.
Project Syndicate 12/03/07
It's possible to see, right now, what global warming will eventually do to the planet. To peek into the future, all we have to do is go to Beijing, Athens, Tokyo, or just about any city on Earth. These urban heat islands could be the platform for inexpensive climate solutions.
GÜLDEN Coffee 11/07/07
Not your average cup of joe, GULDEN coffee differentiates itself from large producers by specialty roasting and Direct Trade practices that bring the company in close contact with farmers and consumers.
Thomas Palley 11/06/07
Exchange rates matter more than ever under globalization. The current system has contributed to global financial imbalances, which pose significant economic risk and have created political tensions between countries over how to adjust them, and within countries over job losses.
Ken Stier 10/12/07
Resolute ethical business standards can be a distinct bottom-line liability for companies operating in environments where corruption is more the rule than the exception. To address this obstacle Merck decided to underwrite the creation of an ethics center in Dubai.
Innovations: Technology, Governance, Globalization 08/02/07
Kenya's largest mobile network operator recently launched an innovative payment service for the unbanked. It's called M-PESA, combining the M from mobile with the Swahili word for cash. Together these technologies are helping spread microfinance and financial services to the poor.
Bryane Michael 07/23/07
As more and more World Bank and USAID money is spent on complex anticorruption programs, business can lead the way in the fight against corruption by using civil remedies, taking corrupt officials and the governments they represent to court.
Negar Rachel Treister
United Nations Development Program 06/22/07
In the Senegalese village of Bantantinty, labor-saving technology is boosting agricultural productivity, creating jobs, and generating income. The UNDP-sponsored Multi-Functional Platform performs a range of tasks that previously fell to the village women, easing their dawn-to-dusk workload and freeing their children to attend school.
Leif Wenar 06/21/07
In Part 4 of the Property Rights and the Resource Curse series, Leif Wenar argues that a trust-and-tariff mechanism could be used against countries that insist on buying resources from the worst regimes. The revenues would go to repressed peoples such as the Sudanese.
To celebrate its 20th anniversary, SustainAbility published Raising Our Game: Can We Sustain Globalization? The report proposes four potential scenarios for how the future will unfold depending on how business attends to social and environmental sustainability.
AccountAbility, Global Reporting Initiative 06/12/07
Although thinking on the multilateral response to the power of the for-profit sector is growing, transparency is not yet a core part of the agenda. Civil society, however, is further along the conceptual road toward transparency. Pressure from stakeholders for accountability on social and environmental issues is a major driver of companies' self-interested efforts to be good corporate citizens.
Leif Wenar 06/05/07
Citizens of countries that don't meet official U.S. standards for minimal political rights can't possibly authorize the sale of their natural resources. Yet corporations within U.S. jurisdiction continue to deal with such disqualified regimes. The case for stopping this flow of stolen goods must be made in court.
Leif Wenar 05/15/07
Leif Wenar analyzes the causes of the resource curse, showing how customary practices left over from the era of absolute state sovereignty still give property rights to whoever can exert coercive control over a population. This might-makes-right rule contradicts the movement toward citizen ownership of natural resources.
Value News Network 05/11/07
John Quelch of Harvard Business School says NGOs that operate on a global scale have some of the most trusted brands in the world and don't even realize it. This leaves a lot of untapped potential when it comes to fundraising, partnerships, and scaling up activities and effectiveness -- the difference between surviving and thriving.
Ashoka is forging ahead with sustainable enterprise through its Hybrid Value Chain program in rural Mexico. Farmers, citizen sector organizations, and corporations work together to install irrigation systems. The result is better crops, sustainable funding independent of grants, and fair profits.
Value News Network 05/03/07
Paul Hawken and John Elkington discuss the ethics of capitalist value creation, life at the bottom of the pyramid, and the rise of Sustainable Civil Society.
Leif Wenar 04/30/07
In a series of articles, Leif Wenar confronts the fact that raw materials used to make consumer goods are often stolen from the poorest people in the world. Repressive regimes violate property rights and sell a country's resources in international markets, siphoning off the money to retain power. This resource curse leaves the bulk of the population mired in poverty.
Value News Network 04/23/07
The corporate relationship with the environment has evolved from regulatory obligation into business opportunity. Stuart L. Hart and Mark B. Milstein look at whether GE's Ecomagination initiative represents an even newer mutation: sustainable enterprise. Will the greening of products suffice? Can the corporate titan develop clean, small-scale technologies that help the billions of people at the base of the economic pyramid?
Seth Kaplan 04/05/07
Debt relief will offer West African states short-term help, but a strong regional organization is needed to cure deep-rooted troubles. Local leaders must be given the authority and responsibility to develop such an organization, but they will need the financial and technical support of the international community if they are to succeed.
The Village Education Project 03/21/07
After teaching elementary school for ten weeks in a small village in rural Ecuador, I came away from the experience with a lot more than the standard shock at the poverty and conditions in the developing world. Instead, I was surprised by how little is really needed to change those conditions.
Sheridan Prasso 03/09/07
Nobel Peace Prize winner Muhammad Yunus, the father of microcredit, has a new idea. It's called social business enterprise, and the first step is a yogurt factory in Bangladesh.
Glyn Holton 03/08/07
Recent market crashes and financial scandals are symptomatic of a capitalism in which shareholders have lost control over the corporations they own. To reassert control, shareholders must overcome obstacles that prevent them from voting their shares. The solution is to form a proxy exchange through which investors can conveniently secure, transfer, aggregate, and exercise their voting rights.
Business Council for Peace 02/28/07
The Business Council for Peace helps women build businesses in regions ravaged by war. They believe in a simple, innovative equation: Women + Business = Peace. More than 200 Western business professionals volunteer their time, talent, and accumulated wisdom to mentor budding entrepreneurs in conflict zones.
Ashoka, Innovations: Technology, Governance, Globalization 02/22/07
Ashoka founder Bill Drayton explains the power of the growing trend of social entrepreneurship and how it is disrupting old patterns of action and perception. He believes that its greatest contribution is contagion: Each social entrepreneur catalyzes more like-minded changemakers into being. Educating young people in the skills of leadership, teamwork, and applied empathy is key to the future of this process.
Eskom, Africa's largest electric company, has shown the world how to combine social leadership and business success.
Keith Nurse 02/12/07
The cultural and creative industries are areas in which many developing countries enjoy some comparative advantage. The rise of the digital economy and the increasing commercialization of the arts create a window of opportunity for these countries. These industries also offer more sustainable development options than traditional exports because the sector draws on the creativity of local artists and entrepreneurs, generating higher levels of local value-added. Moreover, the sector has strong growth potential and plays a key role in the arena of identity formation.
Business Leaders Initiative on Human Rights, Ethical Corporation 02/03/07
By Lisa Roner. Republished with permission from Ethical Corporation. A group of big businesses is going further than just keeping its nose clean by trying to advance human rights, particularly in emerging economies. The Business Leaders Initiative on Human Rights is working to make the Universal Declaration of Human Rights relevant in the business context and to inspire other businesses to do likewise. Members strive to set minimum standards and to exemplify leading practices in harmonizing commerce and human rights.
The U.S. Congress is taking a commendable interest in curbing global warming, but it needs to be careful in what it legislates. Solutions such as the Kyoto process could merely push more energy-intensive industries to such places as China, which already emits more carbon dioxide into the air than does the European Union. Instead, the United States could impose a carbon tax on domestic energy-intensive products and on imports not subject to comparable levies.
HandCrafting Justice 01/23/07
Thomas J. Hollywood recounts the story of how the women of La Florida, Peru, came to work with HandCrafting Justice, a fair-trade partnership that helps women struggling for economic justice in developing countries. The women of this jungle village were displaced by the guerilla warfare of the Maoist Shining Path. They resettled in the slums of Lima with few prospects or belongings. Today their community endures despite its hardships, and prospers due to the markets that HandCrafting Justice finds for its artisanal products.
Balkrishna Rao 01/19/07
Purdue University researcher Balkrishna Rao says that OECD countries will need to be ever more innovative in order to adapt to a growing global workforce that is increasing in technological savvy. He proposes measuring Gross Domestic Innovation (GDI) as a means of tracking progress and influencing policy, especially as it pertains to inflation, the protectionist impulse, and encouraging research and development. GDI numbers will be based on patents, publications, copyrights, and other intellectual property data.
Food for the Hungry 01/09/07
Every year, nearly 11 million children die before they reach the age of five. Malnutrition underlies an estimated 60 percent of these deaths. In each community where Food for the Hungry has worked, however, there have been a few poor families with well-nourished children, despite their poverty. Local solutions, which use available resources, can be utilized to combat malnutrition.
Instituto Promundo 01/08/07
Since 1999, Promundo, a Brazilian NGO, has been working with partner organizations to identify and understand those men who are seeking and finding other ways to interact with women. Our work started in Brazil and Mexico, and has subsequently spread to India and parts of Africa. Specifically, we have been carrying out research to understand how it is that some men and boys come to question their privilege and power, and in the process treat their female partners differently.
Positive Deviance Initiative 01/05/07
Policy Innovations interviews Jerry Sternin of the Positive Deviance Initiative.
Catalina Cock Duque
Green Gold Corporation 01/02/07
The Amichoco Foundation and Corporacion Oro Verde developed the Certified Green Gold Program in Choco, Colombia and are expanding it to other regions of the world. GGP provides a sustainable development alternative to underprivileged communities by fostering fair trade practices and ten certification criteria as a guarantee of socially and environmentally responsible artisan small-scale mining (ASM). Certified gold and platinum are sold to local and international fair trade and green markets, and miners receive a bonus on the market value of gold.
Steve A. Rochlin
AccountAbility's mission is to advance innovations in accountability in order to promote sustainable development. Now in our 11th year, our approach rests on working collaboratively on several levels. We strive to build the definitions and requirements for accountability and sustainable development in the 21st century.
Global Goods Partners 12/08/06
The idea of founding Global Goods Partners (GGP) came to us after years of working as development professionals, focusing on issues from child labor to disaster relief. Our jobs took us to different parts of the world, where we met amazing women who were creating beautiful, exquisitely made items. Again and again, we were struck by the powerful combination of spirit, talent, and practicality that these women possessed. Despite poverty and great odds, they were supporting themselves and their families and trying to find new ways to improve their lives.
International AIDS Vaccine Initiative 12/08/06
The International AIDS Vaccine Initiative (IAVI) has expanded the scope of research by introducing six novel vaccine candidates into clinical testing in the past six years. These bold strides originate partially from the initiative's unique position as one of the first public-private partnerships to work toward developing a biomedical product. In an interview with Policy Innovations, Senior Vice President Robert Hecht explains IAVI's groundbreaking practices in science as well as policy and advocacy.
Mercado Global 12/01/06
Without fail, the women in every community I have ever worked with in rural Guatemala have asked me to help them find a market for their artisan products. In most cases, these women said finding a market for their products was more important to them than the other projects local non-governmental organizations were conducting in their communities. Mercado Global was founded as a response to this need.
Think Impact 11/28/06
Saul Garlick founded the Student Movement for Real Change to empower students in the United States to learn more about the Global South and to improve conditions there. With chapters growing across the country, the Student Movement has helped construct classrooms in South Africa and is raising funds to construct a water pipeline in Kayafungo, Kenya.
Keith Slack 11/21/06
Keith Slack discusses how corporate social responsibility could become more effective by changing the incentives that govern corporate access to capital and markets.
Ethical Metalsmiths 11/14/06
Susan Kingsley, Christina Miller and I, all metalsmiths, have come together to establish Ethical Metalsmiths, an organization dedicated to increasing awareness of ethical issues in the mining industry, creating a market for metals and gemstones that are sourced and labeled in accordance with broadly-accepted international standards, and connecting independent metal artists and jewelry designers with these materials as they become available.
Philip E. Auerswald,
Iqbal Z. Quadir
Innovations: Technology, Governance, Globalization 11/01/06
Philip E. Auerswald and Iqbal Z. Quadir, founding editors of Innovations: Technology, Governance, Globalization, recount the evolution and aspirations of their new journal: By drawing attention to innovations in the public interest, we intend to encourage critical thinking about them, and to spur their proliferation.
Kim Beng Phar 10/31/06
How accountable is something that is unstoppable? That is the moral issue of globalization: It is widely promoted without any proper regard for due process, says Kim Beng Phar, a visiting scholar at Waseda University, Tokyo. He describes the difficult and often impossible legal paths that citizens and consumers face when trying to sue for human rights violations in a system where trade is globalized but justice is not. Phar proposes the creation of an International Consumer and Civic Union to lobby for legislation that allows cross-border legal petitions for redress of human rights violations.
Liem Giok In 10/12/06
Liem Giok In, author of Interdependent Economy: From Political Economy to Spiritual Economy, asserts that developing countries must claim their own negotiation space in global trade talks. She proposes a two-track approach to multilateral negotiations: one track with a clear development agenda, and another for the market-expansion agenda of the stronger economies.
Thomas W. Pogge 09/26/06
Pharmaceutical innovators would have the option to forego the conventional claim to exclusivity in favor of an alternative patent that would reward them, out of public funds, in proportion to the health impact of their invention. Such alternative multi-year patents would make new drugs available at competitive market prices (without the now-customary exorbitant monopoly mark-ups) and would stimulate additional pharmaceutical research especially into serious diseases concentrated among the global poor.