Shaping Global Partnerships for a Post-2015 World

By Sonja Patscheke, Angela Barmettler, Laura Herman, Scott Overdyke & Marc Pfitzer

“What if fishermen, governments, industry, philanthropy, private investors, and conservation and development organizations worked together to apply the best strategies for restoring fisheries—and the communities that depend on them? What if these strategies addressed all the key elements of a fishery… so that change is comprehensive and lasting? What if fisheries became the sustainability success story of the early 21st century, creating more food, better livelihoods, prosperous businesses, and healthier oceans?”

These visionary questions articulated by the newly launched 50in10 initiative to support the World Bank’s Global Partnership for Oceans paint a picture of optimism and potential that aspirational leaders share when thinking about tackling the world’s most pressing problems. To achieve its goal of restoring 50 percent of the world’s fisheries in 10 years, a range of actors must work collaboratively to affect large-scale system change. Yet, no clear road map exists to translate this daunting vision into a pragmatic and effective global partnership. How does an initiative with such a bold goal as 50in10 create a partnership strategy and structure that works at the global, regional, and local level?

Progress on the post-2015 development agenda hinges on answering such a question. But the development field is littered with aspirational partnerships that fall short of executing their ambitious goals. Common pitfalls include disconnects between the global strategy and local implementation, a lack of shared measurement systems, and insufficient structures to manage the complexity. Despite much talk about the essential role of partnerships in advancing global development, best practices remain elusive and poorly documented.

Undoubtedly, achieving key outcomes in health, education, economic development, and environmental sustainability requires working together across sectors in new and more effective ways. Too many isolated or sub-scale efforts fail due to partnership approaches incommensurate with the complexity of global challenges. What’s needed is effective cross-sector collaboration that mobilizes the international community while also driving measurable progress on the ground. As we think about how global partnerships work best for sustainable global development beyond 2015, we believe that the concept of collective impact offers important lessons for the architects of the post-2015 world.

Actors around the world have been experiencing the power of collective impact and its five conditions of success.1 The most important condition is establishing a backbone structure that acts as the glue, holding the partners together and ensuring that the other four conditions are in place. The backbone provides strategic coherence around the common agenda, establishes shared measurement and learning systems, supports the mutually reinforcing activities of the different partners, and facilitates continuous communication. It needs to provide strong leadership for the initiative while building ownership among the different partners like a conductor of a symphony allowing each participating organization to bring their particular strengths to the joint effort. Of course, the prerequisite of having a functioning support infrastructure is adequate funding. Funders of collective impact efforts have understood that it is precisely by investing sufficiently into the right backbone support that the partners will be able to achieve “more with less.”

Over the last few years, we have studied and worked with many local collective impact initiatives that are helping solve a social problem within a specific community, city, region, or country. We now seek to answer the questions we keep hearing from the global development community: How does collective impact apply to cross-sector partnerships at the global level? What is different for global partnerships? What are best practices for leading and managing global partnerships?

To address these questions, we used a collective impact lens to research and evaluate a range of global partnerships, with a particular emphasis on six diverse initiatives: Roll Back Malaria Partnership, Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition, Global Road Safety Partnership, the World Economic Forum’s New Vision for Agriculture, Global Partnership for Education, and World Wide Fund for Nature. (See “Featured Initiatives.”)

Not surprisingly, the most successful global partnerships already embody the five conditions of success.1 Take the Roll Back Malaria Partnership (RBM), for example, whose efforts to control malaria in Africa have saved an estimated 1.2 million lives since 2000. Or the Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN) that can be credited with improving the nutritional content of food for an estimated 750 million people over the last decade. In each instance, partners from different sectors work through mutually reinforcing activities towards a common vision of success supported by shared measurement and efficient communication systems.

As with other collective impact efforts, RBM and GAIN both work through backbone organizations as their central nervous system. What’s different is that these global partnerships have a multi-layered backbone structure where each layer plays a distinct role. Since partners contribute to different work streams in different locations—with some being mainly active at the global level and others focusing in specific geographies—coordination needs to happen at multiple levels. The global backbone generally focuses on defining a high level framework for action toward a common agenda and defining shared metrics while the local backbone organizations coordinate implementing partners on the ground in specific locations. And for some partnerships, an additional regional layer serves between the global and local levels to help the flow of expertise and information throughout the system. (See “Multi-Layered Backbone Structure.”)

Despite the many successes already achieved through improved collaboration, not even the strongest partnerships have mastered this required division of labor. Getting the public, private and nonprofit sectors to work together is in itself a challenge, and the need for coordination at multiple levels adds another layer of complexity.

To better understand this division of labor for global partnerships, we examined the key roles of the global, regional, and local backbones for each core element of collective impact. It is our hope that these findings will provide guidance to the leaders and funders of global partnerships to enable them to reach their full potential. (See “Key Roles of Backbones to Ensure Success.”)


Leading an agenda-setting process | Committing to a common agenda is the first step in developing an effective global partnership. In a post-2015 world, global partnerships cannot be merely issue or theme-based initiatives, but will require focused strategies and execution plans. The global backbone serves as the lynchpin for developing this common agenda. It offers a dedicated team to convene the core partners and facilitate the strategy development process. At this stage it is crucial that all key stakeholders can share their perspectives on the boundary of the problem and potential solutions to ensure that the common agenda considers the interests and expertise of all relevant partners. Only then will the partnership and the global backbone have the legitimacy to lead the global effort and act as the steward of the common agenda. Getting a diverse group of actors from different sectors to agree on a common agenda for a complex issue is not easy, yet is a very important initial step toward building understanding and trust among the partners.

The World Economic Forum (the Forum) successfully facilitated the development of a common agenda during the launch of the New Vision for Agriculture. The team spent six months meeting with governments, agri-businesses, investors, farmer groups, development agencies, and civil society groups to make the case for action and agree on the core issue to address. Once the boundaries of the issue were set, it took another year to develop a strategy to guide the partners’ actions. The resulting agenda contains a three-pronged vision for change that encourages a holistic approach to agricultural development by addressing food security, environmental sustainability, and economic opportunity. Today, four years after its inception, the New Vision for Agriculture has engaged more than 250 organizations and catalyzed transformational, cross-sector partnerships in 14 countries across Africa, Asia, and Latin America.

Most global health and development challenges are active in far-flung locations, so actors need to agree where the partnership will focus its efforts. We’ve found that the exact selection criteria for geographic focus will vary by organization according to their mission, operating environment, and the type of issue in question. However, partners usually focus on locations where the problem is most severe and that display a high readiness for change, including having local issue champions and adequate financial resources available to get started.

In road safety, for example, the challenge
is enormous: every year, nearly 1.3
million people die as a result of road traffic
collisions and 20 to 50 million more people
sustain non-fatal injuries. To help reduce
the number of fatalities, the Global Road
Safety Partnership (GRSP) was founded
in 1999, on the initiative of the World
Bank, to work toward sustainably reducing
death and injury on the roads in low- and
middle-income countries, where 90
percent of road traffic deaths occur. The
partnership selected its focus countries
primarily based on the incidence of road
fatalities, supplemented with more practical
considerations of the probability of
success: the government’s recognition of
the problem and willingness to act, the
existence of adequate financial resources
to support the initiative, and strong leadership
from an influential road safety
champion. In those countries GRSP works
closely with governments to set up cross-sector partnerships, build the capacity of local road safety police and officials, collect and share global best practices, and advocate for supportive legal frameworks.

Translating the agenda to local contexts
| Of course, a common agenda at the
global level means nothing unless it gets
translated into locally adapted strategies
and activities. This process has to be driven
by the local backbone and in-country actors
since they understand the local context
best. The global backbone can help by offering
technical support when needed. GRSP
works through a network of advisors from
either their own local offices or from the
global backbone office, who work closely
with the relevant ministries in-country on
the design and implementation of locally tailored
road safety strategies. These reflect
the framework of the “Decade of Action
for Road Safety 2011-2020,” the global call
to action by the United Nations, as well as
local conditions on the ground.


Driving consensus on shared measurement
| Once partners unite behind a common
agenda, the next step is to design a
shared measurement system, which is
central to any collective impact effort.
Shared measurement is not just about defining
and tracking key development indicators,
it is also about putting a stake in
the ground to define the goals and metrics
used to evaluate progress and to design a
process for learning from the data that is
collected. It is the ultimate test of whether
the partnership truly shares a common
agenda. Importantly, the shared measurement
process needs to be designed with a
strong focus on sharing insights and best
practices throughout the system as partners
are learning what works and what
doesn’t work on the ground.

The global backbone, as the steward of
the common agenda, is best positioned
to create consensus on a common measurement
system and key performance
metrics. Look at the Roll Back Malaria
Partnership (RBM), launched in 1998 to
mobilize coordinated action against malaria
worldwide. The global secretariat
was tasked with the creation of the Global
Malaria Action Plan (GMAP) to eradicate
malaria. This global framework for action
defines the partnership’s objectives and
strategy and estimates the annual funding
needs to achieve RBM’s goals for 2015
and beyond. To assess the global malaria
disease burden and set the partnership’s
objectives, RBM engaged in a two-year
consultative process with global health
actors including the World Health Organization
(WHO) and the Global Fund for
AIDS, TB and Malaria (the Global Fund).
It then helped establish common metrics
for all countries for key indicators such
as the delivery of bed nets and rapid diagnostic
tests and treatments, to facilitate
the aggregation and interpretation of data.

Collecting and compiling relevant
| Again, it is at the local level where
the shared measurement plan needs to
trigger action. While a global measurement
framework may recommend a set
of indicators, those measures may not be
readily available at the local level. It is the
local backbone’s role to ensure that the
appropriate data is collected from all in-country
partners. In the case of malaria,
the national ministries of health perform
the local backbone functions and make
sure all relevant data is collected and
compiled into quarterly reports that appear
on RBM’s website, allowing actors
at any level of the partnership to track
country by country progress in terms of
expenditure and interventions.

A regional backbone structure can be
a helpful middle layer between the global
and the local levels. As the first aggregation
point beyond the local level, RBM’s four Sub-Regional Networks (SRNs) in East,
West, Central and Southern Africa are well
positioned to spot trends and bottlenecks by
monitoring regular inflows of country data.
They extract and share key learnings from
across the network at their annual meetings
and support countries in reviewing
and updating their national plans based on
the best available strategies and practices.

To systematize the learning process
across all levels of the partnership, RBM
convenes two types of working groups
organized around specific areas of functional
expertise. The first type, the “alignment”
working groups, enables partners to
reach consensus and agree on best practices
regarding different problems, such
as malaria in pregnancy. The second type,
“coordination” working groups, focuses on
implementing these best practices in the
different areas of RBM’s work through the
SRN planning cycles.

The complexity of global partnerships
and the issues they address also calls for
a level of pragmatism in measurement.
Where possible, efforts seek to take advantage
of data already being collected
in a standardized way for other purposes.
The Global Partnership for Education
(GPE), for example, uses common frameworks
such as the Millennium Development
Goals and Education for All Goals
to help define its ultimate objectives in
expanding access to education. When it
comes to measurement, it utilizes existing
education data captured locally and
internationally by organizations such as
UNESCO to measure progress against
national education plans and identify opportunities
for improvement. If necessary,
GPE funds technical assistance to help assess
and improve measurement systems at the national level to improve the quality
of the data. (See “Progress Monitoring v.
Impact Studies.”)


Tackling intransient global development
challenges in a post-2015 world requires
harnessing the best efforts of partners
from all sectors in pursuit of a common
agenda. In a collective impact effort, the
backbone infrastructure coordinates
partners’ contributions to ensure that all
activities are complementary and mutually
reinforcing, leading to progress toward the
shared objectives. The local backbone’s
core functions are mobilizing partners and
coordinating activities on the ground. The
global and regional backbones can support
implementation by mobilizing and coordinating
partners at the global and regional
level, raising funds for activities, and providing
technical assistance.

Mobilizing funding and supporting partner activities | The Global Alliance for
Improved Nutrition (GAIN) is a powerful
example of how a global organization can
raise funds to support activities and help
mobilize and coordinate a diverse group
of actors around a common vision. GAIN
was launched in 2002 to improve access to
nutritious foods on a global scale by supporting
the development of public-private
partnerships. Itself an alliance of governments,
civil society groups, private sector
companies, and international organizations,
GAIN serves as a funder, implementer, and
convener for nutrition-based projects in
more than 30 countries around the world.

Since its inception, GAIN has mobilized
hundreds of millions of dollars for
nutrition from global actors. Yet, funding
alone is not enough. GAIN also strengthens
the infrastructure on the ground to
help implementation and ultimately, improve
the nutritional status of key populations.
For its Food Fortification Program,
GAIN builds the infrastructure through
the creation of and support for a national
cross-sector group known as a national fortification alliance (NFA). The NFA is
a collection of representatives from government,
private sector including food
processing industries (e.g., oil refineries,
flour millers, and salt factories), civil society,
international agencies, development
agencies, and academia. NFAs are initially
coordinated by an “executing agent,” an
independent organization contracted by
GAIN to implement food fortification activities.
The executing agent is tasked with
laying the groundwork for the cross-sector
partnership, helping to build consensus
around a common agenda, and providing
oversight to food fortification programs.

The NFA comprises working groups to
provide oversight of the work to fortify food
that requires parallel progress along a number
of different fronts. A common fixture
in many collective impact efforts, working
groups are typically organized by subject
or functional area and bring together partners
working on similar activities. In Kenya,
for example, the national NFA includes five
working groups, or committees—the Product
Delivery Committee, Communications
Committee, Policy and Advocacy Committee,
Monitoring & Evaluation Committee,
and Finance Committee. Each committee is led by the subject or functional expert of the
group. For instance, the Communications
Committee is led by Population Services
International (PSI), allowing the broader
alliance to benefit from PSI’s expertise in
public advocacy as well as its recognition
within civil society. Similarly, the other
working groups leverage the skills of their
members to promote activities across the
food system—from food quality standards
and enforcement mechanisms to manufacturing
investments and transportation infrastructure.
Thus, civil society groups help
to build community awareness and drive
demand for fortified foods; private industry
works on producing and supplying the
necessary products and services; the Ministry
of Health determines the local health
needs; and donors spot gaps in the system
and seek linkages with other programs.

GAIN’s global backbone not only funds
the initial creation of NFA’s and supports
grants implemented by the executing agents
in managing the food fortification activities,
but also provides technical assistance to
governments, the working group leaders,
private sector partners and many of the local
stakeholders on an as-needed basis. This
could come in the form of direct support from GAIN’s specialists at the global level
or through the activation of an extensive
network of global nutrition consultants that
GAIN calls upon for facilitation and technical
assistance. By leveraging the diversity
of experience and knowledge of external
consultants, GAIN is able to maintain a
relatively lean organizational structure while
operating in dozens of countries across the
world. (For another example of an alliance
see “The Coral Triangle Initiative.”)


Sharing knowledge and building trust
| Achieving success in global partnerships
requires connecting partners from
different cultures, time zones, and often
languages. Actors from the private, public,
and nonprofit sectors sometimes have
very different organizational cultures and
ways of doing things which means it can
take longer to build a common understanding
among one another. The backbones of
global partnerships hence have a crucial
role to encourage and orchestrate communication
across the partnership to align
activities, share knowledge, and build trust.

RBM does this to a large degree through
its Sub-Regional Networks. Their annual
meetings exemplify the power of convening
as a mechanism for knowledge sharing
bottom-up, top-down, and across countries.
They provide a neutral platform for key
country actors to meet their counterparts
from other countries in the same region as
well as representatives from the working
groups and regional and global backbones
to share experiences, learn from each other,
and build relationships. Twice a year, the
SRN organizes support missions to each
country involving relevant partners from
the global network to meet with in-country
partners. In addition, SRNs organize
peer-learning visits between countries
and regions to accelerate the exchange
of best practices.

Frequent communication—both formal
and informal—is essential to building
trust among partners, without which any
collaborative effort fails. In the field of
malaria, actors report feeling part of “one
big family,” with strong personal relationships
holding the group together, largely
as a result of their structured, regular

Influencing policy | Global partnerships
are not self-contained units that operate
in isolation. Their success depends
on their ability to navigate a dynamic
system of funders, thought leaders, issue
experts, and other efforts promoting their
cause. They therefore need disciplined
external communication to create and
maintain a sense of urgency on the key
issues as well as to affect policy changes
to build an enabling environment.

The global backbone is often best placed
to take the lead on external communication
using its channels of influence at the global level and lending its credibility to support
in-country efforts. GAIN, for instance, effectively
leverages its technical expertise
in nutrition as well as its close relationships
with governments to help inform global
policies related to nutrition such as the
food fortification guidelines of the WHO.
Instead of advocating directly for a certain
position, GAIN positions itself as a partner
and technical expert to those government
actors tasked with setting international
nutrition policy. GAIN has thus become
a go-to organization in helping policymakers
interpret data for decision-making.
Similarly, in-country, a core initial focus for
GAIN, the executing agent and the National
Fortification Alliance (NFA) is to engage
in evidence-based advocacy with the government
for mandatory food fortification legislation as the key enabling condition to
achieve food fortification at scale.

Similarly, the World Economic Forum
(the Forum) has effectively maintained a
sense of urgency for the New Vision for
Agriculture. In an effort to align partners
around its initial strategy, the Forum team
leveraged global platforms such as the G8
and G20 as well as its extensive relationships
with multinational companies across
different sectors. Today, the New Vision
for Agriculture continues to advocate on
behalf of smallholder farmers around the
world and the more than 870 million people
who remain chronically hungry and

Regional backbones also have a role to
play in maintaining momentum. As part of
the New Vision for Agriculture, the Forum
helped incubate the regional backbone
Grow Africa as a response to tremendous
demand from countries in Sub-Saharan
Africa interested in replicating the success
of Tanzania’s agricultural corridor
program, SAGCOT.2 Through its participation
in global and regional agricultural
forums, Grow Africa seeks to increase the
visibility and viability of investment opportunities
in African agricultural value
chains. To date, the platform has secured
more than $5 billion in investment commitments,
and supports efforts in nine countries.
Coordinated by the Africa Union, the
New Partnership for Africa’s Development
(NEPAD) and the Forum, Grow Africa connects
pioneering governments, businesses,
investors, smallholders, and development
partners to align on common goals and
commitments. Beyond convening investors,
government representatives and
agri-businesses at their annual investment
forum, the platform has recently launched
an annual report documenting private
sector commitments, investments, and
accomplishments in improving African
agriculture in the participating countries.
This report helps to hold companies and
organizations accountable for their commitments
in the region and showcases
them for others to follow.


Ensuring legitimacy and effective linkages
| While strong governance is an important
aspect of any collective impact
effort, the multiple backbone structures
required in global partnerships necessitate
heightened attention. A carefully designed
governance structure is the fundamental
building block of a global partnership
and a critical ingredient for meeting post-2015 development goals. At the center of
the structure is the global backbone that
requires strong legitimacy as the expert
coordinator and must be recognized as
representing the interests of all partners.

RBM provides an effective model for
designing governance bodies across the
backbone infrastructure with strong linkages
among the different levels. (See “Multi-Layered Governance Model.”) At the global
level, RBM’s Board is made up of 20 voting
members and is primarily responsible
for setting the strategic direction of the
partnership, approving its work plans and
budgets, as well as providing oversight of
the global Secretariat (backbone). Its members
include representatives of academia,
malaria endemic countries, foundations,
multilaterals, NGOs, OECD donors, and the
private sector. Most importantly, malaria
endemic countries are duly represented
on the board, thus ensuring that decisions made at the global level are grounded in
local realities and priorities.

At the regional level, RBM’s Sub-regional
Networks are governed by steering committees
whose co-chairs regularly report to
RBM’s Board. They are primarily responsible
for reviewing and approving the country
roadmaps. SRN’s steering committees are
made up of regional representatives from
all main constituencies, the hosting organization,
as well as the national program
managers of each malaria endemic country
of the region. This ensures that regional
specificities and country contexts are being
taken into account in the decision-making
process. SRNs receive their core funding
from RBM for staff costs and regional convenings
and technical assistance, which
reinforces accountability and alignment
with the Global Malaria Action Plan.

At the country level, the ministry of
health typically coordinates the collective
of international and local donors and actors
around the national malaria programs
by convening them on a regular basis to
share information, align plans and activities,
reach consensus, and review progress.
The local backbone sets up technical committees
with specialists from different areas
such as diagnosis, vector control, and
malaria in pregnancy. These agree on tasks
to be performed and monitor implementation in their respective thematic areas. RBM
links to the in-country collective through
the SRN missions and meetings and the
malaria focal points of each organization.3

Local ownership of the in-country backbone
is critical to ensuring buy-in and the
long-term viability of the partnership. In
the field of malaria, having the ministry
of health take the lead role in-country is
essential to integrating malaria within the
broader national health agenda, thus gaining
access to key resources, and supporting
a system-level approach to national health.

Governance is of course closely tied
to funding flows. GAIN maintains strong
oversight of the NFAs it has helped set
up by continuing to support grants to
executing agents including allocations
for the NFA. Executing agents receive
on average between $1.5 million and $3
million over 2.5 to 5 years to help set up
the NFA and to promote and guide local
food fortification until the partnership is
well established and the government and
private sector take full ownership.

The NFAs themselves are set-up to
strengthen their legitimacy and build local
ownership. The chairperson of the NFA is
elected by the broader membership to guide
strategies and to call meetings on behalf of
the partnership. Similarly, the working group
leaders are all selected by popular vote and
each is responsible for coordinating an execution
plan around the high level goals set
by the NFA membership. The executing
agent simply plays a facilitative role in this
process. Over time, the local backbone role
is being taken over by the relevant ministry
to transition to full local ownership.


With significant gaps in the achievement
of the Millennium Development Goals imminent,
the status quo cannot be the path
forward. The problems facing our world
and our communities are too massive
and too complex for sub-scale and siloed
approaches. Complex development problems
will not be solved without systemic and dynamic global partnerships.

Leaders and funders focused on a post-2015 development agenda need to embrace
this complexity in shaping global
partnerships. They need to understand
what works in designing and executing
global partnerships and incorporate that
knowledge into pragmatic structures
and processes. And they need to connect
global funding and expertise with local
resources, implementation capacity, and
ownership—all essential for making progress
toward our shared goals.

While many existing global partnership
leaders successfully use a sub-set of
the key building blocks of the architecture
described above, we have yet to see
any global collaborative effort that has
an effective backbone structure across all
levels of cooperation. Challenges have included
the lack of a workable shared measurement
system to foster alignment and
shared learning among the partners, and
a frequent disconnect between the global
level and local implementation.

Just as leaders of global partnerships
can improve strategy and execution,
funders need to acknowledge the critical
role of the backbone structure and provide
ongoing support to its development.
This includes the governments of implementing
countries that in most cases host
the local backbone. While it’s no question
that building the right backbone structure
requires funding, many funders
still hesitate to spend on infrastructure,
instead linking their funds directly to programs.
In reality, the investment needed
to maintain backbone architecture is often
insignificant compared to the total
resources that the backbone structure
will help channel towards greater impact.

Consider RBM’s budget of $18 million
in 2011 that supported running their secretariat,
governance bodies, working groups,
and four SRNs. Compared to the $2 billion
in annual total commitments for malaria
control and an additional $550 million or
more in funding for R&D that RBM was
directly or indirectly influencing that year, the cost of funding the RBM backbone is
insignificant. While there could certainly
be more done to eradicate malaria today,
global malaria efforts are on track to meet
the malaria community’s goal of reducing
malaria deaths to near zero by 2015 and,
in UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s
words, “Roll Back Malaria has proven the
power of partnerships to produce sustainable
results.” Yet, even in the field of malaria
where we have a strong backbone
system at the global and regional level,
there often are inadequate financial and
human resources at the country level.

The collective impact framework and the
roles of the backbone across the different
levels of organization offer a blueprint for
diagnosing global partnerships along the
key functions of strategy, measurement,
implementation, and communication. With
an eye toward continuous improvement,
backbone leaders and funders of global
partnerships have much to learn from each
other. Engaging in dialogue and learning
exchanges around the structure and role
of the backbone can unlock insights and
action that will directly impact their partnerships’
effectiveness. At the same time,
newly created partnerships such as 50in10
can benefit and learn from the experiences
of more established partnerships about the
intricacies of establishing sufficient and
appropriate backbone resources.

At a time when we are discussing
the shape of the post-2015 development
agenda, let us seize the opportunity to
build the right architecture that will empower
global partnerships to achieve the
transformational change we need for a
better future.

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A Growing Network of Global Health Innovators


We are excited to announce the Center for Health Market Innovations‘ expanded network of regional partners. These organizations are working to catalyze the scale-up, replication, and improvement of innovative health care delivery programs in their regions.

CHMI will be working with organizations in Nigeria, India, Pakistan, the Philippines, Kenya, and other countries in East and Southern Africa to identify promising programs and connect innovators to funders, policymakers, or others who can help them scale up, replicate, or improve on their organization. Our expanded network includes:

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Shifts in global water systems — markers of a new geological epoch: The Anthropocene

Experts in Bonn to detail how science can help people mitigate or adapt to major global human-induced water system changes

A suite of disquieting global phenomena have given rise to the “Anthropocene,” a term coined for a new geologic epoch characterized by humanity’s growing dominance of the Earth’s environment and a planetary transformation as profound as the last epoch-defining event — the retreat of the glaciers 11,500 years ago.

And in Bonn, Germany May 21-24, world experts will experts will focus on how to mitigate key factors contributing to extreme damage to the global water system being caused while adapting to the new reality. Read more

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SA needs to produce more PhDs to boost knowledge economy

South Africa is not spending enough on research to be truly competitive in the global economy. “We are working in a knowledge economy, globally,” highlighted National Research Foundation (NRF) Executive Director: Applied Research, Innovation and Collaboration Dr Rocky Skeef recently. “We are competing globally. There is a correlation between citation [of scientific articles produced in a country] and wealth intensity [of a country]. South Africa has a huge challenge in this respect in the global area.”
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Quotable: Microinsurance penetration set to double by 2020


Big changes are on the horizon for the global microinsurance sector.

“Microinsurance, which currently provides coverage for 500 million people, could pass the 1 billion mark by the end of the decade,” says Craig Churchill, Chair of the Microinsurance Network and Head of the ILO’s Microinsurance Innovation Facility.

This boom in coverage means that opportunities for the global re-insurance sector could be huge. It could also mean major changes across a variety of other sectors as well. Read more

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“Empowering women is smart economics”

As World Bank Managing Director Caroline Anstey said in her remarks at last Thursday’s event on women in the private sector, women make up nearly 50 percent of the world’s population. Despite this, they are only 40.8 percent of the formal global labor market.  This gap represents a vast economic potential that could have the power to create jobs, drive economic growth and transform the global economy as we currently know it—shaky, stagnant and according to some of the data, in recession.

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