On 12 September 2018, a full-day meeting of the Knowledge for Development Partnership took place in Geneva, hosted by the World Trade Organization (WTO). It involved keynote speeches but also an open space and the presentation of the KM Awards 2018.
The conference was organized by Ninez Piezas-Jerbi of the WTO, together with Andreas Brander of the K4DP, Pavel Kraus and Rocio Sanz.
Keynotes on knowledge for development
A new edition of the Agenda Knowledge for Development
Sarah Cummings of the K4DP and the VU University Amsterdam presented the new third addition of the Agenda Knowledge for Development which aims to complement the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) from the perspective on knowledge, listing knowledge goals and targets like the SDGs. The new edition of the Agenda Knowledge for Development, to be published in October 2018, has two new targets which focus on communities of practice (CoPs) and indigenous knowledge. It also has a new Knowledge Development Goal 14: The arts and culture are central to knowledge societies which considers that ‘Literature, the performing arts and the visual arts are key elements of a knowledge society, as are religion and spirituality.’ To mark this recognition, Sarah Cummings played the video of the knowledge dance from Kampala Knowledge Week.
Knowledge and trade: the WTO perspective
Deputy Director General of the WTO, Dr. Yonov Frederick Agah, presented an outline of a knowledge agenda for global trade, highlighting the essential role that knowledge plays in making trade an engine for sustainable development, addressing the relationship between knowledge and trade in the context of the WTO:
The 2030 Development Agenda highlights that trade is an engine for inclusive economic growth and poverty reduction. Trade is a key means for the achievement of the SDGs because it leads to the sharing and proliferation of knowledge. Knowledge is embodied in good and service that are traded across borders. International trade makes knowledge accessible to firms and consumers globally and acts as an important channel for knowledge and technology transfer.
Dr Agah also considered that while trade helps the spread of knowledge across the world, knowledge itself is also an important enabler of trade, with lack of knowledge about foreign markets being trade barriers for small and medium sized enterprises. Besides lowering trade barriers, the WTO contributes to knowledge transfer through its transparency mechanisms and rules.
The WTO Secretariat plays and important role in knowledge creation and sharing though technical assistance activities, economic and statistical analysis, and internal and external learning networks. The WTO is committed to incorporating knowledge management within the daily operations of the Secretariat because:
It is only through increasing the flow of knowledge, and properly leveraging it, that [the WTO] can contribute to addressing the needs to WTO members and the people they represent.
However, Dr Agah noted that that the WTO does not do this alone. Partnerships, dialogues and collaborations with fellow international organizations, governments, businesses, academia and civil society are ‘at the heart of knowledge sharing and creation at the WTO.’ He closed with a quote from the film ‘A plastic ocean’:
From knowing comes caring, and from caring comes change.
Knowledge partnerships between the UN and the private sector
Dr. Petru Dumitriu presented the main findings of the recent report, The UN system – private sector partnership arrangements in the context of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, and compared them with a previous report from 2016 on knowledge management in the UN system. In the most recent report on the private sector, Dr Dumitriu noted that the private sector was initially seen as a potential source of additional voluntary funding, arguing that this view changed with the introduction of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development which explicitly recognized ‘the diversity of the private sector and called upon all businesses ‘to apply their creativity and innovation in solving sustainable development challenges.’ He recognized that some of the motivations of the private sector to engage in partnership with the UN relation to knowledge, namely:
- Access to international policy debates;
- Opportunities to participate in processes to establish codes of conduct and international standards for specific business areas
- Understanding and sharing the values of the UN system; and
- Understanding that sustainable development also means sustainable business.
Officials interviewed for the report on the private sector underlined the important role of the private sector in innovation but also the need for national-level collaboration between the research community and the private sector.
Introducing the open space
Dr. Pavel Kraus, President of the Swiss Knowledge Management Forum (skmf.net) introduced the open space which took up much of the rest of the day.
The open space
Themes which were raised and discussed by participants in the open space comprised:
- Geneva’s role as a knowledge city (proposed and facilitated by Eli De Friend)
- Organizations’ approach to knowledge retention in the context of the baby boomers reaching retirement (Rocio Sanz)
- The potential of a Geneva city-wide community of practice focusing on knowledge management (Damir Simunic)
- Commitment and buy in for the Agenda Knowledge for Development (Sarah Cummings)
As follow up to the third open space, a sub-group of KM4Dev has been created to facilitate local collaboration between KM professionals located in Geneva.
Knowledge management at the WTO
After the open space, Dr Andreas Brander facilitated discussion of knowledge management at the WTO.
Knowledge Management Awards 2018
The annual Knowledge Management Awards 2018 were presented at the close of the day. The organisational award was received by Dr Sara Savastano on behalf of recipient the International Fund for Agricultural Development. The individual award was presented to the CEO of the Iranian company MIDHCO, Dr. Ali Asghar Pourmand. It was accepted on Dr Pourmand’s behalf by Dr Bahram Jelodari. More information about the awards can be found in a previous post on this website here.
Photos of the event can be found below.