Press Release

World Bank and Partners Award $4.8 Million to 26 Innovative Ideas to Save the Planet

November 13, 2009

World Bank and Partners Award $4.8 Million to 26 Innovative Ideas to Save the Planet

13 NOVEMBER 2009 | Close to $5 million in grant money has been awarded to 26 innovative climate adaptation projects, through the 2009 Global Development Marketplace, a global competitive grant program to fund innovation in development.


This year’s contest—‘100 Ideas to Save the Planet’— set a simple challenge: come up with one idea from your own community to help save the planet and its people from the effects of climate change. This ninth annual Development Marketplace was co-sponsored by the Global Environment Facility (GEF), the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), the Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and the World Bank.

This year’s event, which ran from November 10-13, featured 100 finalists from 47 countries selected from over 1,700 project proposals. The winning concepts announced today will be implemented in East Asia and the Pacific (5), Europe and Central Asia (2), Latin America (13), the Middle East, North and Sub-Saharan Africa (5) and South Asia (2).


“The Development Marketplace is an important part of our mission to break down funding barriers and promote innovative entrepreneurial ideas at the grass-roots level." said Monique Barbut, CEO and Chairperson of Global Environment Facility (GEF).


Winning ideas receive up to $200,000 in seed money, as well as guidance, and technical support as projects move into implementation. More than this though, all participants benefit from being able to hone their project design skills; by participating in knowledge and skills development sessions designed to help make them better development practitioners on their return home—win or lose.


"Managing risks from climate change will require not only one hundred, but thousands of ideas from communities all over the world," said Katherine Sierra, Vice President of Sustainable Development at the World Bank. "This year’s contest was an opportunity to showcase the kind of creative thinking that can deliver tangible results in our work on climate adaptation.  We will be watching how this year’s winners put their ideas into action."

Stand-out ideas from this year’s contest included:

  • -From Serbia: SZTR Sunce’s initiative to mitigate the effects of climate change induced bacterial blooms on commercial fishponds;
  • -From the Philippines: The University of the Philippines’ (Los Baños) ‘Bell and Bottle’ initiative – providing a low cost, high efficacy flood and landslide warning system;
  • -From Ecuador: International Network for Bamboo and Rattan’s idea to build elevated bamboo houses, essentially lifting communities in flood zones out of harm’s way; and

This year’s contest took place amid a wider pre-Copenhagen international discussion around climate change and its effects on developing countries. Many ideas combined traditional knowledge with 21st-century technology, as participants found creative ways to innovate, taking cues from both the ancient and the modern. Ideas included painting rocks around glaciers white to slow melting, to leveraging mobile telephony and SMS technology to strengthen disaster preparedness.


 “Agriculture is where climate change, food security and poverty reduction intersect.” said Kanayo F. Nwanze, President of the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD). “The Development Marketplace is an excellent platform for scouting and collecting new ideas from diverse sources, fostering innovative solutions, and developing partnerships in support of climate change adaptation.” 


Past winners have gone on to address pressing needs in their home communities. Many have seen their project concepts replicated elsewhere. The Kanchan Arsenic Filter project, a 2003 winner sponsored by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, has been scaled up with compelling results. The project, first implemented in Nepal, has been expanded to Cambodia, Vietnam and Bangladesh. To date, over 7, 000 filter units have been distributed, serving 30,000 people in the region. Pump Aid, a 2006 winner of a $120,000 grant, went on to secure an additional $25 million to expand water and sanitation services to reach eight million people in Zimbabwe and Malawi over five years.


“I believe that Development Marketplace is a very good example of how to facilitate innovation – giving us tangible solutions on complex development issues like climate change adaptation,” said Ulla Toernaes, Danish Minister for Development Cooperation. “We have through our own experience seen how innovation has helped transforming Denmark’s energy consumption patterns and created new business opportunities like wind energy.”


Speaking at the Development Marketplace award ceremony, Sanjay Pradhan, Vice President of the World Bank noted, “Among the World Bank's most important roles is scanning the horizon for innovative emerging ideas. Then our job is to identify, select and help scale up those innovative solutions. Development Marketplace winners over the years have proved the value of bringing fresh voices and ideas to the development discussion, and that it is possible to turn good ideas into tangible results.”


About the Development Marketplace

The Development Marketplace is a competitive grant program that identifies and funds innovative, early-stage development projects with high potential for impact and replication. The program is supported by a consortium of partners including the World Bank.

This year’s contest gathered ideas around climate adaptation in developing countries. Organized by thematic groups, this year’s contest placed special focus on indigenous communities dealing with climate risks, climate adaptation and disaster risk management, and managing climate risks in ways that provide multiple benefits—eliciting ideas to help people deal with the effects of climate change, especially those living in some of the earth’s most vulnerable ecosystems.


A rigorous assessment by 200 specialists from within and outside the World Bank Group narrowed the list of 1,700 proposals to 100 finalists who were invited to present their ideas in Washington, D.C. this week.  Since 1998, the Development Marketplace has awarded more than $61 million to initiatives identified through global, regional, and country competitions.

For more information about the Development Marketplace visit: 
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