GEM 2013

The theme for the Global Empowerment Meeting 2013 was Trillion Dollar Ideas to Build Prosperity. The goal was to examine transformational shifts in our strategies for creating prosperity that are poised to revolutionize economies and empower the global poor.

The sixth in the Global Empowerment Meeting series, GEM13 brought together 100 senior policy makers, business leaders, development experts and academics to continue last year's productive discussion on new strategies for accelerating growth and unlocking the potential of developing countries.

Discussions included:

  • behavioral economics and scarcity
  • how knowledge operates and how we can harness to help societies prosper
  • developing a post-2015 development agenda
  • innovation in development
  • how cultural traits influence socio-economic development

GEM13 offered a thought-provoking program and interactive platform for engaging these new ideas, while promoting direct interaction between ideators, implementers and supporters in order to turn these insights into actuality.

Download Agenda PDF

Keynote speakers:

Q & A with Lawrence Summers
Lawrence Summers

Stories behind Behavioral Economics
Richard Thaler

Scarcity, Why Having Too Little Means So Much: A surprising examination of how scarcity - and our flawed responses to it - shapes our lives, our society, and our culture. Cutting-edge research from behavioral science and economics shows that scarcity generates a similar psychological reaction for everyone struggling to manage with less than they need. The dynamics of scarcity reveal why dieters find it hard to resist temptation, why students mismanage their time and why sugarcane farmers are smarter after the harvest than before. Once we start thinking in terms of scarcity and the strategies it imposes, the problems of modern life come into sharper focus. Scarcity provides a new way of understanding why the poor stay poor and reveals not only how scarcity leads us astray, but also how individuals and organizations can better manage scarcity for greater satisfaction and success.

Scarcity, Why Having Too Little Means So Much
Sendhil Mullainathan

Harnessing Know-How: We have shown that what an economy produces determines its wealth. And what it produces depends on what it knows how to make. Knowledge needs to be accumulated, aggregated and integrated among individuals, firms, locations and societies in order to transform it into products, and consequently generate economic growth. Knowledge exists within all these levels: individuals translate their skills into tasks, firms translate the skills of its employees into products, and cities combine these products into value chains that generate wealth. But knowledge operates in a tacit way, making it difficult to understand and replicate. In this session we will explore how knowledge operates and how we can harness this amorphous power to help societies prosper.

Puzzle of Development
Ricardo Hausmann | slides

The First Great Divergence
Robert Boyd | slides

Managing Knowledge to Help Economies Prosper
David Bojanini | slides

Unlocking Knowledge Through Crowds
Karim Lakhani

Dangerous Ideas and the Seduction of the Kinky: The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) outline a distorted vision of "development," targeting low bar goals for a few indicators: the poverty agenda is defined by a "dollar a day," the education agenda by primary school completion, the health agenda by a few conquered diseases. All worthy, but limited aspirations. The culmination of the existing MDGs in 2015 creates the opportunity to articulate a new vision for "development" and improved ways to measure progress, so that development remains relevant in a world of emerging low and middle income countries and growing middle classes.

Post-2015 Development Agenda
Vuk Jeremic

Median is the Message
Nancy Birdsall | slides

Dangerous Seduction of Kinks in Development
Lant Pritchett

Pitching a Development Agenda Post-2015
Homi Kharas

Exploring The Atlas: The Atlas online is a powerful interactive tool that enables users to visualize a country’s total trade, track how these dynamics change over time and explore growth opportunities for more than a hundred countries worldwide. The Atlas is used by investors, entrepreneurs, policymakers, students and the general public to better understand the competitive landscape of countries around the globe. For any given country, The Atlas shows which products are produced and exported; The Atlas can then use this information to suggest products a country could begin manufacturing in order to fuel economic growth. As a dynamic resource, The Atlas is continually evolving with new data and features to help analyze economic growth and development.

What is The Atlas online?
Marcela Escobari | slides

Innovation in Development: As society grapples with increasingly complex problems, the Innovation field has the potential to add a new way of thinking to catalyze systemic change. The Innovation field describes an interdisciplinary approach integrates sociology, economics, engineering, and ethnography — among other fields. In this session, world-renowned designers, researchers and strategists will share how they are turning to new approaches in design-thinking to create effective implementation frameworks that might solve society's increasing complex problems.

Innovating Alternate Pathways
Banny Banerjee

Engineering Education Beyond Tech
Fawwaz Habal | slides

Innovation in Development
Anne Dorthe | slides

Development Evolution & Redefining Innovation
Nabil Harfoush | slides

Shaping Beliefs and Culture: To what extent is socio-economic development in societies influenced by cultural traits, such as individual values and beliefs? Are such behavioral factors determined primarily by persistent historical forces, or can they be altered and shaped in the short-run as well? This session explores cutting-edge research ranging from examining the historical roots of cultural norms, to an examination of how religious beliefs and political experiences can have profound impacts on individual and group decision-making. The session will offer insights into whether beliefs and culture matter, and the extent to which they can be influenced by policies.

Shaping Beliefs and Culture

Asim Khwaja
Nathan Nunn
David Yanagizawa-Drott

Dawn or Dusk? Envisaging the aftermath of today’s global economic conundrum by looking at the past:How do we make sense of the current economic situation from a historical perspective: are we re-visiting the 1970s when rich countries stagnated in an economic morass, while natural resource exporters boomed? And what is to come: will our era be followed by a decade like the 1980s, when developed countries rebounded and natural resource economies collapsed? Or, are there other historical parallels more enlightening for today’s context?

Dawn or Dusk?
Niall Ferguson

The Limits of Institutional Reform: Developing countries commonly adopt reforms to improve their governments yet they usually fail to produce more functional and effective governments. Matthew Andrews argues that reforms often fail to make governments better because they are introduced as signals to gain short-term support. These signals introduce unrealistic best practices that do not fit developing country contexts and are not considered relevant by implementing agents. The result is a set of new forms that do not function. However, there are realistic solutions emerging from institutional reforms in some developing countries. Lessons from these experiences suggest that reform limits, although challenging to adopt, can be overcome by focusing change on problem solving through an incremental process that involves multiple agents.

The Limits of Institional Reform
Matt Andrews