Platform for African – European Partnership in Agricultural Research for Development

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Knowledge for Development. Global Partnership Conference 2017

3-4 April 2017. Geneva, Palais des Nations. The Global Knowledge for Development (K4D) Conference was aimed at the review and advancement of knowledge management practices in the field of sustainable development and presenting a new agenda to strengthen knowledge societies and economies for development.

The Conference provided insights in current practices and explore future developments in the use of knowledge management in the area of development. Knowledge is at the heart of global development. It is the critical resource for development organizations to work and collaborate successfully as well as for communities, cities, nations and regions to create wealth, quality of living, peace and sustainability. Knowledge is an essential, overarching element for the achievement of Agenda 2030 and the Sustainable Development
Goals, and therefore requires the world´s full attention.

Programme: download
Agenda Knowledge for Development and 73 Statements: download
Report of the Joint Inspection Unit of the UN: KM in the United Nations System: download
Knowledge for Development Partnership Declaration: download

The first day introduced two flagship documents:
  1. Launching of the Joint Inspection Unit (JIU) Report on Knowledge Management in the United
    Nations system (JIU/REP/2016/10), by Dr. Petru Dumitriu, Inspector, Joint Inspection Unit
  2. Presentation of the Agenda Knowledge for Development by Dr. Andreas Brandner, KMA
Some extract of the JIU report:
In the United Nations system, there have been years of experimentation, trials and errors, gradual and fragmented attempts to address knowledge management needs, bottom-up and top-down initiatives. Some of the actions taken have been fully successful, some have been inconclusive and others have been abandoned. It should be noted that this has also been the experience of the private sector with regard to knowledge management. (page 20)

For the International Labour Organization (ILO), one of the pioneering organizations to have embraced the concept of knowledge management, “a comprehensive knowledge management strategy has many dimensions and encompasses the full spectrum of generating, collecting, capturing, storing, codifying, transferring and communicating knowledge”.(page 22)

The Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) has a slightly different approach. It considers that knowledge management “refers to the management of knowledge flows — into, through and out of an organization. As such, knowledge management enhances overall organizational effectiveness by consolidating collective individual knowledge, including lessons learned from past experience, and applying it to new situations and environments, continually improving and refining what works and what doesn’t in a given context”.(page 23)

However, unlike other policies that can be justified in terms of explicit and measurable monetary savings, the added value of knowledge management is more difficult to quantify. (...) Knowledge management prevents waste of money, time and human resources and one cannot measure what is prevented. overnight. (...) The prevention of errors and the savings that are often achieved through better use and reuse of existing knowledge are practically invisible in accounting terms. (page 6-7)

Some negative consequences of ignoring knowledge management needs (...) are for example:
The technical team of Dgroups:
Damir Simunic and Joe Canda of WA Research SA
duplication of efforts and activities by staff working in similar fields; inconsistency in the approaches or understanding of the same policy area; lack of awareness of the whole picture of a particular policy challenge; loss of knowledge and insight when experienced staff leave an organization; insufficient ability to share best practices and innovations; absence of interdepartmental or inter-agency collaborative work; failure to identify loss of time and resources.
(page 7)

Some organizations still seem unable to extract themselves from costly functional silos and, instead, tolerate expensive duplications and reinventions of the wheel. Knowledge management will help organizations learn from past failures and successes, redeploy and reuse existing knowledge assets, solve problems or innovate, foster and develop the right competencies, update and remove obsolete knowledge and ensure that knowledge and competencies are not lost(page 7)

Efficient management of knowledge does not depend only on technology, but mainly on the human and managerial resources of the organization. (page 8)

The United Nations should identify, analyse, and promote those knowledge management initiatives and innovative actions taken outside the United Nations system by non-governmental organizations, private sector entities and academia (page 11)

Extracts of the Programme:
During the second day in Session 5 a multi stakeholder perspective was presented and in session 6, some best practices:

Session 5: a multi stakeholder perspective to knowledge management
Mary Suzan Abbo, Managing Director of CREEC, K4Dev in Uganda. The Centre for Research in Energy and Energy Conservation (CREEC) from Uganda is working in four focal areas: Bioenergy, Solar PV, Pico-hydro and Energy management.

Extracts Session 6: Presentation of good practices in cross-sectoral knowledge management 
(Moderators: Andreas Brandner and Sarah Cummings)
  • Florian Bauer, Chief Knowledge Officer of REEEP, Climate Knowledge Brokers Group

  • Enrica Pellacani and Ahmad Baihaki, Capacity for Development, European Commission

  • Richard Bryan-Cox, Administrator of the capacity-building market place, United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (for his presentation click here)
  • Neil Pakenham-Walsh, Chair of the Dgroups Foundation

Knowledge Management Austria (KMA) took the lead in developing the Agenda Knowledge for Development, which is designed to complement the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development by providing an integrated approach to knowledge-related challenges that directly influence the achievement of the Goals. The knowledge for development agenda is a work in progress. It is being developed by an international coalition of civil society organizations, enterprises and academics. It is based on the vision that knowledge has a societal and economic transformational power that can be harnessed for development in a global knowledge ecosystem. According to the initiators, all the Sustainable Development Goals are associated with knowledge and they cannot be achieved without a systematic and integrated approach to knowledge.

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