Nicaragua + 1 more

2009 Development Marketplace Awards Recognize Innovative 'Ideas to Save the Planet'

  • 26 winners share in US$4.8 million award money to carry out local projects to protect the most vulnerable against adverse effects of climate change.
  • Communities of Indigenous Peoples win nine of 26 awards; half of the award winners are from Latin America and the Caribbean.
  • Social media platforms, such as YouTube, Flickr and Twitter, connect competitors and their communities around the globe as never before.

January 5, 2010 —Winners of the recent Development Marketplace Global Competition on Climate Change will use US$4.8 million in funding to launch projects to reduce the effects of climate change on some of the most adversely affected communities and environments in the developing world.

The projects, each of which were funded for up to $200,000, dovetail with the emerging message of how least-developed and developing countries should confront climate change – by linking adaptation to development. That thrust is one of the main messages of the World Bank's recently published World Development Report 2010: Development and Climate Change. It is also the aim of Development Marketplace sponsors, including the Global Environment Facility (GEF), the Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), as well as the World Bank Group.

The 2009 Development Marketplace competition – held in November in Washington, D.C. – featured "100 Ideas to Save the Planet" as its theme. One hundred finalists from 47 countries were winnowed from over 1,700 entries. Nine of 26 awards went to communities of Indigenous Peoples.

The competition challenged applicants to be innovative. "The need for fast solutions is urgent," said Aleem Walji, Innovation Practice Manager at the World Bank Institute (WBI). "Looking at business as simply not sufficient. We've got to look at new ways of doing things."

"Development Marketplace winners...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," added World Bank Institute Vice President Sanjay Pradhan, speaking at the awards ceremony.

Each of the Development Marketplace 2009 projects confronted the reality that poor people and the most vulnerable, including women, children, the elderly, the disabled, and indigenous communities, are often the hardest hit by climate change; a combination of human, economic, and environmental factors contribute to this toll.

Nidia Matamoros' winning "food forest" project, for example, will benefit 2,500 under-nourished children in 25 Miskito indigenous communities in Nicaragua (of which she is a member). "I have lots of emotion," she said, upon winning her award. "I will have now even more commitment to reach our communities' goals. Now there's a more open door to fight climate change."

Nnaemeka Chidiebere Ikegwuonu of Nigeria won with a project that would create a radio drama aimed at helping small farmers learn how to better manage the risk of growing crops in extreme weather that swings from storms to droughts.

"There is a saying in our local Igbo language, "To whom much is given, much is expected," Ikegwuonu said. "Thanks to this award, within 18 months, small farmers living in southeastern Nigeria will mitigate and adapt to climate change by integrating local knowledge and external technology."

WBI, which manages Development Marketplace for a consortium of sponsors who supply funding as well as technical assistance, is exploring ways to continue helping finalists, including those who didn't win. Such support might include connecting participants through social media to build a larger community of practice.

"Just because they don't get a prize from us doesn't necessarily mean they wither away," said Walji. "Indeed, we know that many finalists are able to leverage the Development Marketplace experience to get other support. I think we have a responsibility to try and support this entire community of finalists."

Half of the Development Marketplace 2009 winners – 13 – are from Latin American and the Caribbean; five are from East Asia and the Pacific; three are from sub-Saharan Africa; two each are from India, and one each from Djibouti, Russia, and Serbia.

Development Marketplace Goes Viral

This year's Development Marketplace (DM) participants embraced social media as never before, using platforms such as YouTube, Twitter, and Flickr, to create a competition that extended from the exhibition floor at the World Bank to people around the world, connected through cyberspace.

During the four-day competition, more than 180 videos about how local communities are adapting to climate change were posted on the DM2009 Channel on YouTube. Since the channel launched in late October 2009, it has drawn 12,000 views. Ninety percent of the viewing audience comes from outside the United States, mostly from the developing world. Videos have been recorded in 14 languages.

In addition, more than 300 photos were posted on the DM2009 Flickr site, which attracted more than 8,000 views during competition week. The DM2009 blog has posted almost 32,000 page views since its launch in late October, and the DM Twitter account enlisted more than 123 followers, including those from Peru, Colombia, Kenya, Indonesia, Ukraine, India, Iran, Ecuador, Mexico, Japan, Germany, France, and Greenland, who tweeted 600 times. New social media connections continue to be made weeks after the competition, and the blog continues to draw new posts and comments.