A total of 874 innovative projects from 22 Latin American and Caribbean countries have applied to the fourth round of the Experiences in Social Innovation competition, organized by ECLAC with support from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation.
First held in 2004, the competition identifies, evaluates, extends recognition and disseminates information concerning innovative, efficient and replicable social development initiatives being carried out by, and for the benefit of, the region’s most disadvantaged sectors.
In the opinion of José Luis Machinea, Executive Secretary of the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC), the region is experiencing an explosion of innovative activity in social policy. “We must take advantage of this dynamism, and make use of the experience garnered. The overall goal is to see these innovative models translated into public policies, which is the only way to assure their widespread implementation.”
As in past years, Brazil is the country with the greatest number of applicants (294), followed by Colombia (121), Argentina (115), Mexico (91), Chile (63), Peru (55) and Central America (39).
Youth programmes lead the list in terms of areas covered (29%), followed by community health (17%), primary education (16%), rural development/agriculture (11%), income generation (9%) and volunteer work (7%). Initiatives in social corporative responsibility and food security have also been received. Some 75% of the applications come from community and non-governmental organizations, and 14% from local governments.
According to Machinea, innovative action is often taken in response to difficult situations, as adversity can generate creative solutions. “We can, and we must, learn from these experiences, and it is important for public policy-makers to take them into account. These initiatives provide models from which more extensive programmes can be developed and incorporated into local and regional development plans.”
Looking Ahead to the 2008 Social Innovation Fair
The application deadline for this fourth round closed on 25 January 2008. Semifinalists will be announced in mid-August, and on-site visits conducted. The Selection Committee will choose up to 20 finalist projects. These will be invited to participate in the 4th Social Innovation Fair, to be held in Medellín, Colombia next November, where the five top prize-winners will be announced.