The 2017 edition of the World Conference on Intangible Capital for Communities opened today


The 13th edition of this Conference, co-organized over two days by UNESCO and its Information For All Programme (IFAP), the University Paris-Sud and the European Chair on Intellectual Capital opened today at the UNESCO Headquarters in Paris.

Held under the theme of "Information and knowledge for all: towards inclusive innovation", it targets to explore the prospects for inclusive innovation as a way for improving the flux of information and knowledge sharing and its impact on the overall livelihoods of people. This substantial issue deeply concerns both developed and developing countries and underlines the role of data and digital resources in fostering capacities of communities to innovate. It also highlights the active role that society plays as a hub for innovation.

Following the success of the previous conferences held on South Korea (IC8), the Mediterranean (IC9), Brazil (IC10), China (IC11) and Africa (IC12), the regional focus of the 2017 event is on Japan as a leading country in intangible/intellectual capital economics and management. This meeting gathers around 200 participants, including experts from major national and international institutions and Agencies: OECD, World Bank, European Commission, European Investment Fund, METI, Cambridge University, ASTP-Proton, Curie Network, as well as a number of Japanese representatives from the private sector and academia.
The Conference was opened on behalf of UNESCO by Dr. Boyan Radoykov, who welcomed the participants and pointed out the relevance of this year’s subject and its substantial contribution to the work of the Organization on promoting peace and development, reducing divides and building inclusive societies. He reminded the audience that since its foundation, UNESCO has been the most effective UN Agency for advancing the development agenda through education, the sciences, culture and communication and information, and one of the major actors for stimulating innovation, generating creative ideas and building synergies and intellectual partnerships worldwide.
During the eight plenary sessions, the participants will discuss a variety of themes considered as highly relevant for decision-making including the impact of information and how it can be equally shared and disseminated, the role of institutions as a key component of intangible capital of nations, the concept of hybrid organizations and digital platforms. On this occasion, Prof. Ahmed Bounfour, from the University Paris-Sud and the European Chair on Intellectual Capital, said: “Due to the deep transformation of socio-economic systems led by digital, new approaches to address the issue of information and knowledge for all are hardly needed, especially from the perspective of inclusive innovation.”

In his intervention, Mr. Indrajit Banerjee, Director of UNESCO’s Knowledge Societies Division, spoke about the Organization’s future perspectives of innovation inclusiveness in creating new formal and non-formal educational opportunities, developing new learning models and ideas for societal innovation approaches and practices as well as on the critical role of information in building sustainable knowledge societies. In line with the UN 2030 Agenda, he underscored the importance of ensuring a push to creativity and innovation through “Open solutions” approaches (SDG 10.2).

In this context, Ms Chafica Haddad, the Chair of UNESCO’s intergovernmental Information for All Programme (IFAP), discussed the initiatives undertaken within the programme’s six priorities addressing the challenges of knowledge society policies in national plans for sustainable development. She also highlighted the importance of universal access to information and knowledge sharing for making any innovation possible, thus stimulating social equality, development, economic growth, and prosperity.  “ICTs are innovative and experimental tools and the UN 2030 Agenda recognizes their significant potential to modernize education, working environment and prospects and public services and thus improve the quality of life […] But technological advancement and the applying of innovative solutions is not enough for building sustainable, adaptive and resilient societies. Solidarity and collective effort are needed in order to move humanity forward.”

The IC for Communities conference series have discussed some of the mentioned issues in their earlier editions but they are in the limelight of IC 13, which looks at them from different angles: geographical (Asia, Europe, North and South America, and Africa), institutional (large companies, large international institutions, small firms) and professional (scholars, policy and private sector decision-makers). Successful examples of the deployment of innovative ecosystems were showcased at the conference, such as the MPESA payment system in Kenya, the Computing Clubs for Young People in Cuba and the city of Chicago’s “lead users” for institutional innovation example.

In the same perspective, the Japanese delegates presented pioneering  programmes on intangibles and intellectual capital, as well as the foresight approach to innovation and sustainable society by 2030.

This conference is a significant contribution to identifying best international practices in the field of inclusive innovation and to reflecting upon a broad range of questions regarding its impacts on emerging and developing economies and social inclusiveness.