A multi-polar world requires multi-polar knowledge

Posted on January 1, 2011  /  0 Comments

LIRNEasia has always been about more than ICTs; it has been about hope in the heart and money in the pocket. Our current focus on the role of knowledge in agriculture value chains will further remove the ICT veil. In this light, I was pleased to read an affirmation of our thinking and approach by the world’s premier repository of knowledge on development, the World Bank:

We see a similar trend in the global development landscape, with developing countries assuming important roles alongside traditional development partners. These new partners are contributing not only aid, but more importantly are becoming major trading partners and sources of investment and knowledge. Their experiences matter.

Yet for too long prescriptions have flowed one way. A new multi-polar economy requires multi-polar knowledge.

With the end of the outdated concept of a Third World, the First World must open itself to competition in ideas and experience.

The flow of knowledge is no longer North to South, West to East, rich to poor.

Rising economies bring new approaches and solutions. We see that as India advises Africa on dairy farming; as China learns from Africa about effective community-driven development approaches in Ghana and Nigeria; as the United States learns from China about high-speed railways; and the Chief Economist of the World Bank, for the first time in our 66 year history, comes from a developing country: Justin Yifu Lin — a student of the University of Beijing and the University of Chicago.

The entire speech is worth reading. It provides an overview of how development economics evolved and ends with a section on “open data, open knowledge, open solutions,” again, terms that should not be unfamiliar those working with LIRNEasia, and with IDRC, our principal funding partner.

Happy new year and thanks to my good friend Deepak Maheshwari for sending me good reading for the new year.

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