The Global Development Awards Competition was first proposed in March 1999 by then-Minister of Finance of Japan, Kiichi Miyazawa. It has come a long way since then, but at its core, it has always been about rewarding talent and innovation.
“These awards are an identification and selection mechanism,” said Pierre Jacquet, President of the Global Development Network. “It identifies talent in developing countries and helps these talents to express and develop themselves. There is a lot of talent in research, development and entrepreneurship and it has been fascinating to support these innovative teams.”
Testimonies from past winners
Dipayan Dey, winner of a Most Innovative Development Project Award in 2018 testifies, “We never thought we would win this award, because we were struggling with a very challenging project. We needed innovative techniques to make hydroponics work in areas previously devastated by floods and storms.”
“Whenever we innovate, we are shackled by the fear of failure. But I still remember those days when we were presenting before the esteemed jurors and discussing our project. We learned more than what we delivered. Through that process, it felt like freedom from the fear of failure.”
The awards thus enable innovation and allow talent to flourish. Rewarding talent also has other benefits - namely that the positive impact tends to spill over into other areas.
“We realised that we couldn't protect the gorillas without improving the health of the communities of people with whom they share their habitat,” says Gladys Kalema-Zikusoka, who won a Most Innovative Development Project Award in 2013 for her efforts to protect endangered gorillas in Uganda and neighbouring DRC.
“Through this award we were able to help these communities organise themselves better. They kept going, they’re continuing to have a positive impact. People have better health and hygiene and this has become more important during the COVID-19 pandemic.”
A vibrant community and platform
To further catalyse and encourage this snowball effect, GDN launched the Global Development Awards Platform at the 2021 competition. The platform is an interactive tool bringing together all of the awards’ former grantees — a visual tool showing the vibrant global community of award laureates built through the competition, which includes both development project practitioners and researchers in the field of development.
“At the Global Development Conference in 2017, some of our past winners documented the interest of the community to expand the reach of the competition beyond the remit of single awards. They proposed the creation of a network of excellence spanning research and implementation,” explained François Bourguignon, Chair of the GDN Board, at the launch of the platform.
The Global Development Awards Platform takes the form of an interactive map that shows the location of all its past grantees. It features search filters allowing users to quickly find types of grantees based on location and award category, among other parameters.
Each grantee also has a dedicated profile with information about their winning project or research proposal and where available, links to their LinkedIn or ORCID pages. In this way, GDN leverages the experience and expertise of past winners, connecting them among themselves and with other communities.
“Through (its) various dissemination and outreach channels, GDN provides a high level of visibility to the winners. GDN also brings in world-class expertise to improve research ideas and designs through its mentoring program,” says Kanchana Wickramasinghe, winner of the Outstanding Research on Development in 2014.
The platform facilitates networking and future collaboration, in line with the demand from past winners consulted in Delhi 2017 to ‘activate the pool of expertise represented by past winners in our global network’. We are proud to celebrate the launch of a visible, globally connected and accessible network at the service of development.
All of this would not be possible without the backing of our key partners. GDN would like to take this opportunity to sincerely thank the Government of Japan for their long-standing support to the global community of development practitioners and researchers.
“I know that the awards recipients who are connecting virtually today are joining me, GDN and the World Bank Group to extend our gratitude and sincere appreciation to the Government of the people of Japan for their continued, generous support to the awards program,” said Dirk Reinermann, Director of Trust Funds and Partner Relations at the World Bank. “We look forward to a continued collaboration.. to realise our twin goals of ending extreme poverty by 2030 and boosting shared prosperity.”
Echoing Mr Reinermann’s sentiments, GDN President Pierre Jacquet said, “It has been a source of great pride to run this program at GDN. We are very happy to have your support.”
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