Looking for ghosts in China

A friend in Kunming laughed when we told her our travel plans: “Chenggong? But there’s nothing there!” More accurate, perhaps, if she’d said there’s no one there.

Chenggong-housing

Under construction since 2003, Chenggong is a satellite city of Kunming, capital of mountainous Yunnan province in southwest China. Such projects are not rare in China, and they tend to follow a familiar pattern: Universities and government offices are relocated, students and officials move in and, eventually, so do other people.

Chenggong is different: Yes it has students and, as far as we know, bureaucrats but – so far at least – pretty much no one else. Its wide-open highways and empty estates have won it plenty of attention in the blogosphere and earned it a reputation as one of Asia’s biggest “ghost cities”.

In truth, the place is not as quiet as all that. Around the spacious university campuses there’s a noticeable buzz. A few small streets are filled with shops selling student necessities – cheap grub and trendy clothes. On one campus, an English-language student, Tina, showed us around and enthused about the quality of the facilities. When we asked her if she liked Chenggong, she nodded enthusiastically: “Oh yes, the air is so clean.” That, too, is often a novelty in China.

Chenggong-campus

But, elsewhere, it’s hard to escape the feeling that Chenggong lacks people. Cars bowl along six-lane highways at speeds unthinkable in most of China’s congested cities, while passengers seem sparse on the light railway that will eventually link the city to the provincial capital. Driving back to Kunming in the evening, we passed housing estates where not a single light seemed to be shining. According to the World Bank’s Holly Krambeck, Chenggong has over 100,000 empty apartments.

Regardless of how many people Chenggong eventually manages to attract, the city is part of one of the most remarkable human transformations in history. In just a little over three decades, China has gone from being a country that was overwhelmingly rural to one where just over half the population now lives in urban areas.

That might sound high but, by international standards, and for a country at its level of development, China still has a relatively small urban population. That wasn’t always the case. As a fascinating recent OECD paper by Vincent Koen, Richard Herd, Xiao Wang and Thomas Chalaux notes, China was once one of the most urbanised places in the world, admittedly in an era when globally around 90% of people lived in the countryside. By around 700 C.E., the city of Chang’an – now known as Xi’an, home of the terracotta warriors – is believed to have had around a million inhabitants, levels that London and Paris would only reach in the 1800s.

By the dawn of the 20th century, however, the proportion of Chinese living in cities hadn’t changed much in 400 years and, throughout that troubled century, it grew only very slowly. By 1949, urban dwellers accounted for just 12% of the population, around a third of levels then typical in the world.

Today, China is playing catch-up. In the last decade, the urban population rose by about 20 million a year; by 2020 the government expects around three out of five people to be living in urban areas. And by 2040, it’s estimated that around one billion Chinese will be living in cities.

China’s government believes cities are essential to building a modern economy. For one thing, cities make it easier for companies to do business, making them hubs for growth. For another, city dwellers tend to spend more than their country cousins, which should help China meet its goal of relying less on exports and more on domestic demand. So, cities will be key to China’s economic and social future. But planning them will require careful thinking about their “hardware” and “software”, to borrow a metaphor.

For an example of the hardware, take transport. By international standards, Chinese cities have relatively low levels of public transportation. That’s evident even in a new town like Chenggong, where, as urban planner Luis Balula notes, “the wide streets and superblocks […] continue conveying the image of a car-oriented urban environment waiting to be populated by cars.”

Chenggong-six-lane-highway

According to the OECD paper, China would need to invest the equivalent of around 11% of its GDP just to bring transport provision in its ten biggest cities up to international standards.

As for the software, think of that as the people who will live in China’s cities. Many will be rural migrants and, so far at least, the legal situation in China’s cities hasn’t worked in their favour. And that’s a topic we’ll return to soon.

Useful links

Policies for Inclusive Urbanisation in China (2013, OECD Economics Dept.)

OECD work on China

网站 (中文) (The OECD’s Chinese-language site)

We’re all free to be poor

That's one way to help the poor
That’s one way to help the poor

According to the CIA World Factbook, political parties are prohibited in Bahrain, but don’t despair, freedom lovers, the “constitutional monarchy” formerly known as an emirate is the 13th freest country in the world according to the 2014 Index of Economic Freedom. Economic freedom? According to the Heritage Foundation, co-publisher of the Index with the Wall Street Journal, that’s “… the fundamental right of every human to control his or her own labor and property”, plus aspects such as “the ability of individuals and businesses to enforce contracts”. The CIA, always looking for something to moan about, claims that “Bahrain is a destination country for men and women subjected to forced labor and sex trafficking; […] domestic workers are particularly vulnerable to forced labor and sexual exploitation because they are not protected under labor laws; […] the government has made few discernible efforts to investigate, prosecute, and convict trafficking offenses; […] most victims have not filed lawsuits against employers because of a distrust of the legal system or a fear of reprisals.”

If it’s like that in one of the freest countries in the world, you can imagine what it’s like in hell-holes such as Norway, 20 places down the list from Bahrain. And what about those poor souls living in Italy, the least free OECD country? Italy ranks 70 places lower than Bahrain, just behind Kyrgyzstan (where’s the CIA’s continuing concerns include: “the trajectory of democratization, endemic corruption, poor interethnic relations, and terrorism.”).

Still, the Index’s “two decades of advancement in economic freedom, prosperity, and opportunity” haven’t been wasted on everybody. Oxfam says that 210 people have been lifted out of poverty in the past year, helping bring the world’s total number of billionaires to 1426, with a combined net worth of $5.4 trillion. And as you’d expect, some billionaires have more billions than others: the world’s 85 richest individuals own as much wealth as the poorest 3 billion people.

That’s worrying the World Economic Forum, finishing in Davos today. The WEF’s annual Global Risks Report ranks “severe income disparity” at number 4 in a list of ten global risks of highest concern. (The top three are fiscal crises, unemployment, and water crises.)  The WEF doesn’t go into detail, but it does point out that beyond the immediate impacts, income inequality interacts with and reinforces other socioeconomic and political trends.

Oxfam provides many concrete illustrations of what that means. For instance, their poll of low-wage earners in the US showed that two-thirds of them believe that Congress passes laws that predominately benefit the wealthy. And that was before last week’s news that most members of Congress are now millionaires (and to think, some people accuse the OECD of being a rich man’s club!). In another Oxfam survey in Spain, Brazil, India, South Africa, the UK and the US, a majority of people (8 out of 10 in Spain) believe that laws are skewed in favour of the rich. Similarly, the majority agreed that “The rich have too much influence over where this country is headed”.

You would have to be particularly naïve to imagine that the rich and powerful don’t use their wealth and power to influence governments, whatever the consequences for the rest of us. An IMF working paper  concluded that “prevention of future crises might require weakening political influence of the financial industry and closer monitoring of lobbying activities to understand the incentives better”.  The financial industry spent over $1 billion lobbying against regulation in the US after the crisis, but, please don’t tell anybody. In an OECD survey, only around 5% of lobbyists thought that “overall lobbyist expenditure” should be disclosed.

A crisis can have an immediate, long-lasting impact in terms of people losing their jobs and houses, but income inequality can cause less spectacular, but no less damaging, losses too. Oxfam quote an OECD report on Mexican telecoms on the consequences for the country of the monopoly position of América Móvil, owned by the world’s richest man, Carlos Slim. “Mexico, with the lowest GDP per capita in the OECD, a high inequality of income distribution, and a relatively high rural population, needs the socio-economic boost provided by greater access to more   services, in particular high speed broadband. The welfare loss attributed to the dysfunctional Mexican telecommunication sector is estimated at USD 129.2 billion (2005-2009) or 1.8% GDP per annum.”

What can be done about all this? The OECD’s answer is “inclusive growth”. Have a look at last year’s OECD Forum to find out more about what that is. Or consider this to find out what it isn’t: the richest 1% increased their share of income over 1980-2012 in 24 out of 26 countries for which data are available. Calculations using figures from the Paris School of Economics’ World Top Incomes database suggest that if income shares had stayed the same over this period, the 99% would have an extra $6000 each in the USA today.

Useful links

OECD work on inclusive growth

OECD work on income distribution and poverty in OECD and non-OECD countries

Growing Unequal? Income Distribution and Poverty in OECD Countries

A call for zero net emissions

OECD climate and carbon report
OECD climate and carbon report

Today’s post is from OECD Secretary-General Angel Gurría and is co-published by the World Economic Forum, meeting in Davos.

Our leaders must get to grips with the huge risk that carbon dioxide emissions pose to the economy and the environment. As we know, carbon dioxide is a long-lived gas. It hangs around. Of every tonne of CO2 emitted this year, some will still be around thousands of years from now. Even small ongoing emissions will continue to add to the atmospheric concentration.

This is already having a serious environmental impact.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s 2013 report finds it extremely likely that human influence has been the dominant cause of global warming since the mid-20th century. Many countries are taking these findings seriously. However, mounting evidence suggests that a stronger approach is needed.

At the 16th session of the Conference of the Parties (COP 16) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in Cancun, Mexico, countries agreed to limit the increase in global average temperature to below 2°C above pre-industrial levels. However, UNEP estimates that country pledges to reduce emissions by 2020 get us only between a quarter and half way to our goal of maintaining a two degree ceiling on the global average temperature increase.

This is why I am making a strong call for governments to put us on a pathway to achieve zero net emissions from the combustion of fossil fuels in the second half of this century. Unlike the financial crisis, we do not have a “climate bailout” option up our sleeve. Nothing short of a transformation of the energy economy will suffice. But we face significant obstacles towards meeting this goal.

Ending our reliance on fossil fuels was never going to be easy. Two-thirds of electricity generation and nearly 95% of the energy consumed by the world’s transport systems relies on fossil fuels.

Several factors compound the challenge of weaning ourselves off this energy source. First, we have recently moved from a world of threatened scarcity to one of potential abundance, due to the exploitation of unconventional fossil fuel deposits such as shale gas in the United States. Second, investments in carbon intensive technologies remain more profitable and attractive than those in low-carbon technologies, in many cases. Third, oil and gas rents account for a considerable share of total government revenue in many countries. Given this “carbon entanglement”, it is not surprising that cash-strapped governments worldwide are hoping to find and exploit new reserves of oil and gas.

There is currently a credibility gap between what governments are saying about climate change and the policies they have in place. Most businesses do not take governments seriously when it comes to climate, primarily because many governments have inconsistent and incoherent policies and then often keep changing them, sometimes retroactively. This makes businesses reluctant to invest in greener technologies.

I propose the following action agenda to reverse this trend.

Action 1: Put a price on carbon. This can be done through a carbon tax or an emissions trading system (ETS). Here, governments have made important progress, with more than 40 countries having implemented some form of carbon tax or emission trading scheme. The “flexibility” of ETS’s makes them politically attractive, although their design and implementation can be improved. However, not all governments have shied away from explicit carbon taxes. There are some strong success stories of introducing carbon taxes smoothly and incrementally over time.

Action 2: Reform fossil fuel subsidies. We have to reconsider our approach to subsidies. The OECD recently inventoried support to fossil fuel consumption and production in our Member Countries. The support we uncovered is in the range of US$ 55-90 billion per year. This is in addition to the US$ 544 billion provided as subsidies to fossil fuel consumers in developing and emerging economies estimated by the IEA. Urgent reform is needed in all countries to phase out fossil fuel subsidies that encourage carbon emissions. While the subsidies are often used to fight poverty, their poor targeting makes them an inefficient way of achieving this goal. Fossil fuel already has a huge advantage as the energy resource of choice. It doesn’t need more help.

Action 3: Address incoherent and inconsistent policies. Governments need to stand back and consider the entire range of signals they are sending to consumers, producers and investors. A key question is whether non-fossil energy investments can currently compete with fossil fuels in terms of their risk-return profile with the policy settings in place domestically and internationally. To help get a consistent picture and to compare country’ performances, carbon pricing and climate policies will soon be a key element of our OECD Economic Surveys. Thus, by mid-2015 we will have a good idea of the progress and remaining challenges in both OECD countries and key emerging economy partners.

The actions outlined above will help to create a clear, long-term signal that the price of emissions will only go one way – up – and put us on a trajectory towards zero emissions. The transition to a zero emissions economy will not be costless, and governments must be frank about the cost of the transformation. But building a post-carbon world will offer some incredibly exciting economic opportunities.

At the same time, inaction also entails huge consequences. For instance, Hurricane Sandy cost the US about 0.5% of the country’s GDP. Recent analysis suggests that the annual costs to deal with flood exposure in coastal cities may increase to over US$ 50 billion by 2050. Typhoon Haiyan, which hit the Philippines, was a stark reminder that developing countries are most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change.

We are on a collision course with nature. Now is the time for us to take bold decisions. Cherry-picking a few easy measures will not do the trick. There has to be progress on every front, particularly with respect to carbon pricing. I feel confident that leaders will rise to this challenge with a stronger commitment to tackle climate change and seize the economic opportunities that a post-carbon world has to offer.

Useful links

The climate challenge: Achieving zero emissions Full text of the OECD Secretary-General’s speech at an event in London in October 2013, co-organised with the London School of Economics and the Climate Markets & Investors Association (CMIA),

OECD work on climate change

The connected television debate in OECD countries

A stakeholder interacting with her radio-TV set
A stakeholder interacting with her radio-TV

Today’s post is from Rudolf Van der Berg of the OECD’s Science, Technology and Industry Directorate.

Thirty years ago last week, a US Supreme Court decision in the “Betamax case” clarified that even though a video cassette recorder (VCR) could be used for copyright infringement, the manufacturer was not liable for infringement by the purchasers. The decision was by the narrowest of margins – 5-4 – but it stands to this day. Nonetheless, despite widespread take-up of VCR’s in all OECD countries, their legal status often remained unclear. The copyright law of Australia, for example, deemed recordings of broadcasted content for personal use to be illegal until 2006, when the law was amended to reflect common use over many years.

Today, many similar cases are making their way through courts in OECD economies. A new report “Connected televisions: convergence and emerging business models” describes some of the debates taking place regarding new equipment and services that change how television is delivered. The report describes the influence of connected television on the telecommunication market and the interaction between various stakeholders, including actions taken by governments.

Today, anything connected to a screen can serve as a television and it is a network connection that makes it connected.  The report looks into the impact these new devices and services have on telecommunications networks. For example, some have expressed the opinion that online television and video-on-demand (VOD) services are either challenging for network management or that telecommunications networks are not fairly compensated for carrying this traffic.

Digital Video Recorders

Digital Video Recorders (DVRs), sometimes integrated in digital television set-top boxes have added the ability to pause content while watching and fast-forwarding later on through parts of the broadcast. The DVR is currently facing challenges in and outside courts across the OECD.

In Belgium, public and commercial broadcasters requested compensation from cable and IPTV companies for the use of DVRs. The reasons given were that the new technologies enabled users to skip commercials and that pay-per-view catch-up television services saw less than expected take-up from consumers.

In the United States, Dish Networks, introduced two features that are currently being challenged in courts. PrimeTime Anytime would automatically record the four major broadcast channels during primetime hours, store eight days of recordings, and hop over advertising in content recorded on previous days. The other feature was to enable its DVR users access via the Internet to content received over their home satellite dish and on their DVR.

Also in the United States, Cablevision introduced a cloud DVR for its customers. Instead of requiring a DVR in the home, the recording was done in a datacentre. This was challenged in the courts, but after an initial defeat, was upheld to be legal, because it was under the control of the user.

In Australia, in a similar case, a cloud DVR service offered by Optus was ruled against by the court. The outcome also led to the closure of similar over-the-top cloud services in Australia, such as MyTVR and Beem.tv.

French television service providers cannot introduce a cloud DVR service, unless with prior authorisation of the copyright holders.

There are also less contentious services, such as the ability to Tweet screenshots of viewed content via Numericable’s DVR in France, access to catch-up television such as BBC iPlayer, and the ability to download apps and games to the set-top box.

Live television online

A number of services have sprung up that allow consumers to access live television via the Internet. One of the best known examples is Aereo in the United States. It gives each individual user an antenna and then streams the content via the Internet. It has been challenged in court, by broadcasters and cable companies, such as Cablevision. However the earlier Cablevision cloud DVR ruling was significant for Aero, with two courts ruling it was not in violation of the law. FilmOn offers a similar service to Aereo from Switzerland for European channels. They take the position that under Swiss law reception and distribution of any receivable free-to-air signal is allowed. Magine, a Swedish company, offers licensed live online television and cloud DVR services in Sweden, Germany and Spain. It therefore resembles more traditional cable television. One of its distinguishing features is that it allows users to go to the start a programme when they switch channels and a programme has already started.

Implications for telecommunication networks.

Catch-up television, such as BBC iPlayer has proven to be very popular with viewers. Viewing is happening increasingly through non-traditional devices, such as mobile phones and tablets.

The report finds that all broadband networks in principle support connected television and online television services. The effect of increasing video traffic over networks has been described by the terms “data tsunami” and “exaflood”. The terms suggest that networks will succumb in a dramatic manner to the amount of data sent. There are, however, few independent sources for data on traffic growth over networks. Those sources that are available show robust growth but offer data that enable a more considered view of network capabilities and traffic growth. Data from European Internet exchanges and Cisco’s  Visual Networking Index show a year on year reduction in the pace of growth for Internet traffic. For example where Cisco saw an eight fold growth in traffic from 2007-2012, it only expects a threefold growth between 2012 and 2017 (see also the OECD Communications Outlook 2013).

ISP’s have different views on connected television and the potential effects on their networks and business models. Some networks such as Swisscom openly welcome online television services and increased use of video services. It has stated that it will stimulate consumers to use the higher-speed access services that the company sells. Many ISPs, however, have flagged and adopted a range of different strategies to deal with traffic increases in an endeavour to strengthen revenue:

Differentiating on quality of service: Some ISPs have proposed to differentiate between classes of Internet traffic (gold, silver bronze) or by dedicating broadband for certain applications. So far networks appear to have been mostly unsuccessful in selling such services. Some reasons put forward by content providers for not purchasing these services is, that their impact is mostly unknown as the ISP controls only part of the network. Furthermore in a competitive market content providers may judge that ISPs will upgrade their networks when quality degrades to remain competitive with other ISPs.

Internet traffic exchange: In Korea, Samsung introduced a VOD-service integrated into its television sets, that made use of the consumer’s broadband connection. For a short period access to this service was blocked by Korea Telecom in a dispute over interconnection. In Norway, Nextgentel, the largest ISP, decided to significantly reduce capacity to the national public broadcaster NRK. The broadcaster had reportedly declined to pay for the additional capacity needed. Capacity was later reinstated. The report contains submissions from both countries on the background of these cases and how it was dealt with. It further explains how Internet traffic exchange, also known as peering and transit, functions and how large content providers such as Netflix implement peering. In addition it describes some notable peering disputes in Australia, France and New Zealand. (See also this OECD report on Internet traffic exchange)

The use of CDN’s and caches. Content Delivery Networks (CDN) and caches reduce the costs of traffic for both content providers as well as ISPs, while at the same time increasing quality. Though Akamai is perhaps the best known, serving up to 9 Terabit/s in 2011, there are a great number of competing services, including those offered by ISPs. This has created a very dynamic market. Content providers may use multiple CDNs at the same time, choosing the best one for a customer based on costs and performance. Some large content providers such as Google and Netflix however have opted to deploy their own CDNs also known as caches instead of purchasing from ISPs or third-party CDN providers, because for them this is the most cost effective and efficient solution.

Download limits: Until recently, the use of download limits (data caps) on fixed networks was decreasing in the OECD area due to competitive pressure. There has been a slight uptake, however, in some countries, whereas other countries have witnessed an increase in caps. Some state that caps allow the network to be shared more equally amongst users. Others, such as the president of the United States National Cable and Telecommunication Association have stated that limits are not about network capacity but that discriminatory rates provide a way of meeting costs of broadband roll-out. Critics of limits note that at peak times, those that go over caps, are not using the network significantly more than other users in a way that incurs costs to the network. Those that exceed their cap use the network more during off-peak hours. Content providers have reacted by offering customers to choose lower quality video streams that use less of the available download limit.

Useful links

OECD Policy Roundtable: Competition Issues in Television and Broadcasting 2013

Commercialising public research: One of the Innovation Policy Platform’s core subjects

Click to see the Platform
Click to see the Platform

Today’s post is from Andrew Wyckoff, head of the Directorate for Science, Technology and Industry (STI) at the OECD. It follows the post by the World Bank’s Gerardo Corrochano about the Innovation Policy Platform on Friday, and is co-published here by the World Bank.

Do you know what FedEx, the well-known overnight shipping company, and Dell Computers, a multinational technology company, have in common? Both firms’ core business ideas were developed by young student entrepreneurs. There are many other stories out there illustrating that universities and other public research institutions (PRIs) are a major source of innovations.

In searching for new routes to growth policy makers around the globe invest high hopes in public research. A premium is being placed on the contributions of public research to the creation of new knowledge capital. The way universities and PRIs operate is also changing including notably the mechanisms and terms on which universities and PRIs are engaging with business and society. We also see that innovation is becoming more open and collaborative and that knowledge circulates more quickly and freely than ever. This inevitably has impacts on the commercialisation of public research.

Recent work we conducted at the OECD on this topic demonstrates the importance of channels other than patents for the commercialisation of public research. The idea that research results reach the private sector in the form of patents, licenses and spin-offs based on patents no longer corresponds to reality. The commercialisation of public research through these channels has shown a general slowdown since the late 2000s. While patenting remains important, universities and PRIs are emphasizing other ways to commercialise their research, notably collaborative research, student entrepreneurship and faculty mobility, contract research and consulting.

Policy makers need to respond to the latest trends with new ways to support public-private knowledge exchange. Facilitating greater access to publicly funded research and data is critical. Moreover, new strategies to link teaching, research and commercialisation, such as student mentoring, can provide the new generation of students with the necessary skills to take their knowledge to markets.

Most importantly, policy makers have to take a strategic view of the intellectual assets generated by public research and demonstrate how these can contribute best to their national innovation system. The Innovation Policy Platform is a valuable tool to help policy makers reach this objective. The Platform helps policy learn how innovation systems operate, identify good practices, and apply effective solutions. The technology transfer and commercialisation, the universities and public research institutes and the intellectual property rights modules of the IPP discuss the critical factors that arise in debates about the commercialisation of public research. The platform also provides information on different countries’ policies in this domain. This information is based on the OECD Science, Technology and Industry Outlook questionnaire.

The IPP is a joint OECD-World Bank initiative, and as such seeks to facilitate knowledge exchange and collaboration across countries and regions on innovation policy. The current site is still a beta version. We plan to introduce collaborative features to more actively support the design and implementation of policies.

For the IPP to reach its potential, we rely on your experiences and feedback. I join Gerardo Corrochano by saying that we look forward to developing the IPP with you.

Useful links

World Bank Private Sector Development blog

OECD work on innovation

Better knowledge for better innovation policies: the Innovation Policy Platform

Click to see the Platform
Click to see the Platform

Today’s post is by Gerardo Corrochano,  Director of the Innovation and Entrepreneurship Global Practice, and Director for Financial and Private Sector Development (FPD) for the Europe and Central Asia (ECA) Region of the World Bank. It is co-published by the World Bank.

We are surrounded by innovations – the outcome of innovative activities. Some affect us more than others. Some are more visible than others. In reading this blog post on a computer or a portable device, you can see how this innovation has made your personal and professional life more productive (although not necessarily easier).

You might not have heard, however, about other kinds of innovations – like the eco-friendly and affordable cooking stoves that reduce exposure to toxic gases for people in Mongolia, substantially increasing their health and lowering costs. All kinds of innovations improve people’s lives from Ulaanbaatar to Washington, increasing social well-being and driving economic growth.

Governments can support innovation through the effective use of public policy. Innovation has steadily climbed its way to the top of policymakers’ agendas in recent years, in developed and developing countries alike. This is illustrated by the importance given to innovation in such strategies as the European Commission’s “Europe 2020” growth strategy, China’s 12th Five-Year Plan (2011 -2015), or Colombia’s National Development Plan (2010-2014). Yet despite the growing consensus around innovation as a driver of sustainable growth, governments face considerable difficulties in identifying, designing and implementing the best-suited policy instruments and approaches to support innovation.

Defining good policies is a walk on a tightrope. Much like the barriers that constrain innovators inside an economy, policymakers face high costs of retaining and retrieving valuable information and best practices to help define their policies. To address this issue, the World Bank – in collaboration with the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) – has developed a new tool destined to enhance the capacity of policy practitioners around the world to support innovation through better policies.

The Innovation Policy Platform (IPP) is a one-of-a-kind web-based interactive space that provides easy access to open data, learning resources and opportunities for collective learning on the design, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of locally appropriate innovation policies. The IPP contains a wealth of practical information on a wide array of innovation-related topics, such as financing innovation, technology transfer and commercialization, and innovative entrepreneurship. The IPP is intended to enable North-South and South-South policy learning and dialogue through a wide array of case studies, policy briefs and collaborative working tools. The IPP aims to create a dynamic community of practice. It is now available to the public and can be accessed at www.innovationpolicyplatform.org.

 
video platformvideo management

Moreover, the World Bank is piloting new approaches to innovation policy that directly target the poorest of the poor. In Vietnam, we have launched an inclusive innovation project, which will provide pro-poor technologies in traditional herbal medicine, information and communication technology, and agriculture and aquaculture.

As these examples show, the World Bank is interested in innovation in a broad sense, aiming to advance our twin goals of eliminating extreme poverty and building shared prosperity. Our support to client countries ranges across policy for innovation systems, technology transfer and diffusion, financing and linkages, and inclusive innovation. Looking ahead at the next decade, the Bank’s engagement in the field of innovation will continue to respond to the ever-increasing needs of our client countries. We are now seeing just the early stages of the trend toward building stronger innovation-driven economies, and this trend is sure to gain momentum. The IPP will be  a vital asset in helping reduce information costs, facilitating the spread of practical expertise to help policymakers draft smart innovation policies.

Useful links

World Bank Private Sector Development blog

OECD work on innovation