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{Excerpt} Necessity is the mother of invention. The demand for good ideas, put into practice, that meet pressing unmet needs and improve people’s lives is growing on a par with the agenda of the 21st century. In a shrinking world, social innovation at requisite institutional levels can do much to foster smart, sustainable globalization.

In consequence of successive scientific revolutions, mankind has changed its conditions and capacities with increasing speed. Globalization is a given: today, mankind’s activities are affecting the entire planet—and thereby mankind itself—for good and ill.

A select list of the worldwide challenges we face includes alleviating poverty; mitigating and adapting to climate change; ending abuse of natural resources and the environment; cleaning up environmental pollution; dealing with natural disasters; countering medical challenges, e.g., pandemics; encouraging disarmament; coping with security threats; accommodating nonstate power; handling failed states; tapping capacity for social action; allaying frustration among minorities; confronting violence; identifying global rights; building a global rule of law; evolving regulatory and institutional frameworks to contain global financial and economic crises; optimizing international trade; managing mass migrations; employing human resources better; and optimizing knowledge.


Suggested Citation

Serrat, O. (2010). Sparking social innovations. Washington, DC: Asian Development Bank.

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This article was first published by the Asian Development Bank (