The proposed technical assistance (TA) will create structures and systems to better link ADB knowledge and operations, as well as staff, with practitioners in developing member countries (DMCs) and with development partners. This work will provide the foundation for jointly creating knowledge solutions to development problems. The cluster approach is proposed because the three subprojects provide basic components for improved exchange of knowledge solutions, create significant potential synergies, and foster an enabling platform for ADB to work as One ADB in providing knowledge solutions. This approach will also support ADB in establishing a sustainable mechanism, because it potentially allows additional resources to subsequently be mobilized. The TA concept paper was approved on 3 February 2014.
At the heart of this TA is the innovative use of knowledge, technology and partnerships to connect development practitioners in the common pursuit of solving development problems. Common to all subprojects is the problem-solving approach and the following key points. First, DMCs will lead and be encouraged to actively contribute as knowledge partners. ADB will serve as a broker and provide a virtual home to support efforts or use existing external platforms if more appropriate. These efforts will complement and build on existing efforts, such as RKSI. Second, ADB`s knowledge partners, in particular through Centers of Excellence (COEs), will work to solve specific problems in DMCs in a coherent fashion under the same knowledge sharing framework. Third, great emphasis will be placed on capturing the impact of knowledge sharing on the ground so that successes, challenges, and bottlenecks are shared and spotlighted to further promote knowledge sharing to solve problems.
|Project Rationale and Linkage to Country/Regional Strategy
In general, ADB's stakeholders see ADB as having a very strong impact on overall development and being an excellent source of knowledge. However, despite knowledge solutions being a driver of change, only half give good marks for promoting knowledge sharing and best practices. A special evaluation study (SES) recommended ADB improve its approach to capturing, sharing and using knowledge. Knowledge Management Directions and Action Plan (2013-2015) (KMAP) builds on SES findings by defining ADB's goals in this area and providing a roadmap for transformational actions. KMAP specifically recognizes the need for greater South-South knowledge sharing, strategic and programmatic partnerships with centers of excellence and knowledge hubs, and easier access to data and information. As a result, efforts to be more strategic about knowledge management and sharing across ADB have been growing significantly in 2013 and the early months of 2014. The Midterm Review of Strategy 2020, the President's 10 points in his 21 November 2013 memorandum on Reforming ADB's Institution-Wide Knowledge Management, Planning Directions: Work Program and Budget Framework 2015-2017, and the first Knowledge Operations Review Meeting all provide fresh impetus and direction for taking a united One ADB approach to sharing knowledge with DMCs and serving as a source of best practices.
On the supply side, many DMCs have vast amounts of successful development experience that could be more widely shared. They are also willing to learn from other countries' experiences. For example, the People's Republic of China, India, and Indonesia each has 40-50 years of experience in supporting South-South cooperation. Other countries have been increasing their efforts in this area over the past decade, such as Malaysia, Thailand, and Viet Nam. Germany, Japan, and the Republic of Korea are strong supporters of South-South cooperation and triangular cooperation.
ADB, Japan International Cooperation Agency, United Nations Development Programme, and World Bank Institute are all active supporters of South-South knowledge sharing. ADB's regional cooperation programs and other TAs have been using South-South knowledge sharing approaches, such as study tours, multi-country workshops, twinning programs, and expert exchanges, to achieve objectives. The Phnom Penh Plan, Central Asia Regional Economic Cooperation Institute, and Regional Knowledge Sharing Initiative (RKSI) provide examples. Knowledge hubs have also been supported. Inter-regional knowledge sharing activities (e.g., with the Inter-American Development Bank) are also tackling issues common to both regions.
These experiences, while signifying DMCs' rising expectations of ADB as a regional development agency, also highlight several critical weaknesses of ADB: (i) efforts at the project level are not linked to each other as One ADB to ensure knowledge flows out of one DMC and into another; (ii) an operational mechanism does not exist to understand and respond to knowledge demand and supply of DMCs across the boundaries of ADB's operational departments; (iii) ADB does not have an efficient, virtual platform on an enterprise basis by which knowledge held by ADB staff and consultants, DMCs and development partners can be freely exchanged, including third party content; and (iv) no mechanisms exist to capture the use of knowledge by DMCs and the impact of knowledge sharing.
General lessons learned include basing knowledge partnerships on well-articulated demand and having clear DMFs with measureable indicators. Staff developing and implementing knowledge partnerships should follow the recommendations outlined in Guidelines for Knowledge Partnerships. KMAP and KORM suggest ADB use its operations cycle to ensure ADB's knowledge solutions are DMC-led. By taking fresh approaches to peer-to-peer sharing, learning, knowledge capture and problem solving, ADB may be able to work with its DMCs to solve development problems faster. In a recent roundtable discussion focused on regional knowledge sharing, policymakers and practitioners concluded that multilateral organizations such as ADB are well-placed to support (existing) efforts to improve knowledge sharing in the region, including serving as a regional knowledge platform; expanding knowledge brokering services to assist knowledge sharing programs and partner countries; and strengthening knowledge linkages through regional and global partnerships.