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In 2018 the OECD Development Assistance Committee (DAC) designed and launched its peer learning exercise on innovation for development. Peer learning exercises complement traditional DAC peer reviews, with a focus on learning, knowledge exchange and capacity strengthening. They enable members to come together on issues of shared interest.

This peer learning exercise aims to improve DAC members’ capabilities in innovation for development and humanitarian work to achieve the 2030 Agenda whilst maintaining a focus on development effectiveness and leaving no one behind”. The report synthesises ideas, lessons and recommendations to inform both those who have already embarked on their innovation journey and those who are about to.

Four countries volunteered to be peer learning focus countries: Australia, France, Sweden and the United Kingdom. These members were analysed and assessed by peer learning facilitator teams led by the lead consultant and accompanied by representatives of other DAC members. All four countries valued the insights provided by this learning exercise as evidenced by the following testimonials.

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In a changing and increasingly connected world, the Department for Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) is committed to transforming the way we work to make Australia stronger, safer and more prosperous, including through our international development activities. The OCED-DAC peer learning exercise on development innovation provided Australia with useful insights into how DFAT can further develop its strategic capability to innovate. We will continue to use innovation across our organisation, including in data analytics, partnerships and working practices to deliver solutions for the most pressing challenges facing the Indo-Pacific region.

Clare Walsh, Deputy Secretary, DFAT

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France is committed to leverage innovation to reach the Sustainable Development Goals and the objectives of the Paris Agreement. The transformative power of innovation of all forms and shapes, from smallest social innovations to big technological leaps, should be harvested in a methodological and collaborative way. The OECD-DAC peer learning process on innovation built useful bridges with our DAC member counterparts and will allow us to spread best practices, discuss and coordinate our actions and investments. This report and its recommendations will usefully serve our innovation model and our strategic thinking on innovation for development. France has and will continue to take part in this process and promote a model of innovation that leaves no one behind.

Philippe Lacoste, Sustainable Development Director, Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs

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The Swedish International Development Agency (Sida) has embarked on a series of transformations to better achieve our mission and to accelerate the implementation of the 2030 Agenda. Innovation is a critical element in that process. The OECD-DAC peer learning exercise was therefore both very timely and valuable in identifying strengths, challenges and lessons learned, providing input and inspiration for our continued efforts. The rich discussions with DAC members during the mission advanced the peer-to-peer learning and added both energy and insight into Sida’s discussions about innovation in the broader development community in Sweden.

Karin Jamtin, Director General, Sida

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United Kingdom

The department for International Development (DFID) and the Government of the United Kingdom are putting a strong focus on how we can leverage innovation, including better use of data and technology, as well as new modes of thinking, to deal with complex challenges such as climate change, poverty and gender equality. The OECD-DAC process helped DFID and partners to identify areas for improvements and strengths to build on. The exchanges with OECD colleagues and peers were immensely helpful and provided further motivation and guidance for our transformation agenda. This timely synthesis report provides a clear summary of the both the obstacles and the opportunities faced by the international donor community as a whole, and sets out ideas of how we might work together to realise the transformative potential of innovation.

Richard Clarke, Director General, DFID

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