Innovation at IFAD
Globalization, climate change, environmental degradation, migrations, the spread of communicable diseases and conflict are just some examples of evolving challenges and opportunities confronting rural poor women and men. Development practitioners constantly face new challenges and many good practices may quickly become obsolete. Making a positive and lasting impact on rural poverty requires the capacity both to implement tried and tested practices and to respond to new challenges and opportunities as they emerge. In other words, it requires the ability to innovate.
The complexity and diversity of rural poverty call for new, better solutions. Despite global progress towards the SDGs, many countries and regions are lagging behind, and social and economic inequalities are growing almost everywhere. This situation calls for new approaches to eradicating rural poverty and a better understanding of its challenges as seen by the rural poor.
Achieving one’s goals better
IFAD defines innovation as a process that adds value or solves a problem in new ways. If possible, the product, idea or approach should also be new to its context, useful and cost-effective in relation to a goal, and able to “stick” after pilot testing.
Innovation can take many forms and be used in many ways across IFAD and its projects. Innovative solutions can provide both small-scale incremental improvements and large-scale transformations. Innovation is not necessarily related to technology, nor does it have to be something entirely new or developed by IFAD alone.
For IFAD, the most important innovations are those that impact rural poor people directly: changes to the way smallholders and other rural poor people invest, produce and market their products; manage their assets; get organized, communicate and interact with their partners; and influence policies and institutions.