The fourth in the GEM series, GEM 2011 brought together one hundred 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. Topics included:

  • Innovations transforming education, specifically, ways to ensure that governments, educators and innovators work together to improve the quality, not just the quantity in schooling
  • Ideas and practical tools to expand and support integrative entrepreneurship ecosystems
  • The launch of the new Global Economic Complexity Indicators, a new set of competitiveness indicators that correlate to a region’s potential for growth.

Harvard Kennedy School Dean Ellwood opened the event introducing the Keynote Panel, "The New Revolution: Social Movements Changing Societies." The discussion covered the wave of social movements spreading around the world from the Arab Spring to the Penguin Revolution in Chile, to Israel and Wall Street. The diverse panelists representing many of these regions discussed what underpinned these movements, the role of technology and social media, the similarities and differences among these movements, why they all happened around the same time, and their relevance to us all.

Dani Rodrik, Professor of International Political Economy, Harvard Kennedy School, also presented his new book: "The Globalization Paradox: Democracy and the Future of the World Economy." The premise is that open markets succeed only when embedded within social, legal and political institutions that provide them legitimacy by ensuring the benefits of capitalism are broadly shared.

Opening day two, Ricardo Hausmann, CID Director and Professor of the Practice of Economic Development, launched The Atlas of Economic Complexity. The Atlas measures the diversity of productive knowledge of 128 countries and demonstrates remarkable predictive value in forecasting how fast countries will grow. This new Economic Complexity Indicator (ECI) is 10 times more accurate in predicting growth than any other development index in use today and embraces the true complexity of economic systems while providing guidance to public and private leaders on how to diversify and grow their economies. This new research answers which countries are poised for growth in the next decade; which will stagnate, and why? Professor Hausmann introduced this new methodology on economic growth in his presentation, "The CID Prosperity Rankings: Insights on Countries Poised for Growth", which was followed by an interactive exercise where participants represented different countries and internalized the new concepts for future use in their own work.

The afternoon focused on how to unleash an entrepreneurial culture in the development field and highlighted the Development Innovation Venture (DIV) at USAID. This discussion was led by Maura O’Neill, Senior Counselor to the Administration and Chief Innovation Officer, United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and Michael Kremer, Professor of Developing Societies in the Department of Economics, Harvard University. The discussion reframed the development challenge through the lens of entrepreneurship and shared ideas and tools to expand and support integrative entrepreneurship ecosystems. Participants explored how a culture of entrepreneurship gets grounded in an ecosystem, identified the players that catalyze that, and discussed what leaders in the developing world are currently doing to unleash entrepreneurs in their country context.

The last session GEM 2011 focused on"Innovations Transforming Education." Economic accelerations need to be accompanied by transformations in education that allow countries to upgrade skill levels along with creating jobs. As countries seek to diversify and move towards producing more sophisticated products, skills will need to keep up the pace. New and increasingly complex industries such as information technology, biotech, medicine, and genetics are taking this challenge to a new level. The future of any country or organization depends on understanding and applying new knowledge during periods of discontinuity. Participants discussed what innovations in education are going to allow us to bridge this disconnect in a meaningful way. The expert panelists leading the discussion were from different fields of education and included Madhav ChavanCEO & Co-Founder, Pratham; Jerry NineCOO & Co-Founder, Skillsoft; John Porter, President, Mosaica Turnaround Partners; and James Tooley, Professor of Education Policy at University of Newcastle upon Tyne and Founder of the Education Fund.

GEM 2011 featured a diverse group of senior executives as speakers and panelists. They includedJustin Lin, Chief Economist, World Bank; Changyong Rhee, Chief Economist, Asian Development Bank; Gabriela Ramos, Chief of Staff, OECD Secretary General; Abdul Hafeez Shaikh, Minister of Finance, Pakistan; Michael Ignatieff, Former Leader of the Liberal Party, Canada and Professor of Human Rights, University of Toronto; and Ethan Zuckerman, Director of the Center for Civic Media, Principal Research Scientist, MIT Media Lab, and Co-founder of Global Voices; Mary Ellen Iskenderian, President & CEO, Women’s World Banking, and Amy KlementVP of Investments, Omidyar Network.

Harvard faculty featured included Ricardo Hausmann, CID Director and Professor of the Practice of Economic Development; Dani Rodrik, Professor of International Political Economy; Lant Pritchett, Professor of the Practice of International Development; Asim Khwaja, Professor of International Finance and Development; Jeffrey Frankel, Professor of Capital Formation and Growth; Ishac Diwan, Lecturer in Public Policy and Director of the Growth Lab Africa and Middle East; Michael Kremer, Professor of Developing Societies in the Department of Economics, Harvard University and Senior and Fellow, Brookings Institution; and Tarek Masoud, Professor of Public Policy.