Project Management



Southern Innovator and the Growing Global Innovation Culture: Background Paper | 2013

Publisher: David South Consulting/David South International 

Category: Background Paper

Published: July 2013

Client: United Nations Office for South-South Cooperation (UNOSSC)


The topic of innovation is ever more frequently mentioned by policy-makers and politicians. Whole business schools dedicate themselves to the subject, while governments and international organizations now often set aside a department or division dedicated to innovation. The European Commission’s Innovation Union is one example (http://

This paper argues that the rise of a global innovation culture is not just hype, a marketing catch-phrase or the latest piece of government jargon. It is really happening and it is snowballing with the aid of the communications revolution. It is interlinking with increasing global trade links, extending to what were some of the most remote corners of the earth. Increasing urbanization is drawing people into new circumstances and causing chaos in many lives, but also spawning challenges that spur people to seek solutions.

The current global economic crisis which started in 2007/2008 seems to have accelerated this tendency as many question the validity and sustainability of the current economic paradigm and global structure. The over-reliance on debt to create prosperity (from housing bubbles to credit cards) has exposed the failure of many institutions, governments and companies - small and large - to innovate. The use of debt - rather than innovation - to create economic growth and prosperity leads to innumerable problems. Resources are not used efficiently (a serious problem on a finite planet with a growing population heading past 7 billion) (UN), and technological and scientific advances are held back as there is no incentive to change old ways when money is easy and cheap. 

While many countries of the global North, particularly in Europe and North America, have experienced a severe economic crisis since 2007, the countries of the global South - while not in any way immune to the problems experienced by the global North - are experiencing a profound perception change.

The space created by the crisis in the North has directed investment wealth and attention towards the global South and emerging market countries. One of the more amusing manifestations of this has been the endless - and very creative - deployment of acronyms for each new investment opportunity, BRIC, CIVETS,etc. Countries and regions which were subject to decades of negative publicity - or just completely ignored - were now ‘sexy’.

In just eight years from 2000 to 2008, BRICs countries – Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa - saw their combined share of total world economic output rise from 16 to 22 percent. This led to a 30 percent increase in global output during the period, showing how key these countries were to global prosperity in the 21st Century. The BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India, China) countries make up nearly half the world’s population and are regional leaders. Taken together, their gross domestic products (GDPs) are not far behind the United States.

What's next? 

Ruchir Sharma’s Breakout Nations: In Pursuit of the Next Economic Miracles (http:// argues that the BRICs are now entering a more stable growth path and thus will not see the rapid-fire expansion and quick profits investors have become used to in the past decade. 

"The BRICs,” Sharma told Forbes magazine, “were last decade’s team.”

The buzz surrounding the BRICs countries over the past decade has been justified by their impressive growth rates, declining poverty levels, modernizing economies and societies and growing middle class populations.

China alone saw its gross domestic product grow by US$5 trillion between 2001 and 2011.

But other countries are now coming up. Sharma points out that Indonesia was the best performing emerging market in 2011 and has a GDP that will surpass a trillion dollars in the coming years.

He also believes Sri Lanka and Nigeria are economies to watch.

Sharma says funds flowing into emerging market stocks grew by 478 percent between 2005 and 2010, a huge jump compared to 2000 to 2005, when the total grew by 92 per cent.

Investors who watch the emerging markets predict the hot growth areas for the next decade will be around energy, technology, and agricultural resources. All are areas ripe for significant innovation.

To make sense of the complexity of fast-emerging economies, the flurry of new investor acronyms try to find the common attributes they share. One country cluster is called the CIVETS: Colombia, Indonesia, Vietnam, Egypt, Turkey, South Africa (http:// Another is PC-16 (Post-China16), comprising the16 countries best suited to succeed China as the world's low-cost, export-oriented economy hub - Bangladesh, Cambodia, the Dominican Republic, Ethiopia, Indonesia, Kenya, Laos, ...

Read the rest of the Background Paper online here:

Background Paper for the United Nations Office for South-South Cooperation (UNOSSC).

© David South Consulting 2017


Southern Innovator and the GSSD Expo | 2011 - 2014

Beginning in 2011 and ending in 2014, each issue of Southern Innovator was launched at the annual Global South-South Development Expo (GSSD Expo) run by the United Nations Office for South-South Cooperation (UNOSSC). The issues (there were five) would connect with that year's Expo theme and were intended to reinforce the solutions presented at the Expo, as well as those solutions discovered through research for the influential United Nations e-newsletter Development Challenges, South-South Solutions. An Expo was not run in 2015 for the following reason: U.S. Finds Macau Billionaire Guilty in U.N. Bribery Case

Studies have shown the importance of reading to real change. Not just online, but in paper form. The retention of information and knowledge is greater when a person reads something in a book or a magazine. Another factor is quality design (which makes the published material both attractive and effective). Trashy, gaudy or slap-dash design, while it has its place and context, is not suitable for well-funded, transparent, public organizations seeking to communicate across borders in a professional manner. Southern Innovator was designed following the UN and UNDP design guidelines at the time, while also adhering to the UN Global Compact and the UN Consultants Remuneration Guidelines. The content was also written to follow those guidelines as well as the Plain English Campaign, which seeks to reduce the presence of "gobbledygook, jargon and misleading public information". On top of this, the magazine benefited from experience: the experience of one of Iceland's top graphic designers and illustrators, the team based at the UNOSSC in New York who oversaw the editing and proof reading, and the researcher, editor and writer who has led many successful and award-winning publishing ventures, including during "one of the biggest peacetime economic collapses ever".   

Southern Innovator Issue 1: Mobile Phones and Information Technology was published in 2011 and launched at the Expo in Rome, Italy.

Southern Innovator Issue 2: Youth and Entrepreneurship was published in 2012 and launched at the Expo in Vienna, Austria.

Southern Innovator Issue 3: Agribusiness and Food Security was published in 2012 and launched at the Expo in Vienna, Austria.

Southern Innovator Issue 4: Cities and Urbanization was published in 2013 and launched at the Expo in Nairobi, Kenya (the first time in Africa).

Southern Innovator Issue 5: Waste and Recycling was published in 2014 and launched at the Expo in Washington, D.C.

© David South Consulting 2017


Southern Innovator as a Knowledge and Learning Tool | November 2017


Why even bother printing (on paper) Southern Innovator as a magazine? "What about the trees and we live in the digital age!", some might say.

There is evidence and science supporting the need to always publish Southern Innovator in print as well as online. First, a study of the World Bank's online publications came to a shocking conclusion: A survey in 2014 found a third of World Bank publications are never downloaded, 40 per cent were downloaded just 100 times, and only 13 per cent were downloaded more than 250 times in their lifetime (The Washington Post). As The Washington Post pointed out, these are publicly funded publications with the intention of contributing to policy debates and providing solutions to the world's problems. So, if nobody is reading them, or just a handful are, that actually does matter if you care about positive change in the world.

Secondly, a Norwegian study in 2014 from the Stavanger University (part of Europe-wide research into the impact of digitisation on the reading experience), found "... that paper readers did report higher on measures having to do with empathy and transportation and immersion, and narrative coherence, than iPad readers," according to lead researcher Anne Mangen (The Guardian).

An earlier study the researchers did also found "students who read texts in print scored significantly better on the reading comprehension test than students who read the texts digitally" and that "Studies with students, for instance, have shown that they often prefer to read on paper", continued Mangen in The Guardian.   

Another issue is Internet shutdowns, outages and censorship. All of these have been on the increase, especially in Africa ( To put it simply, you cannot electronically shutdown a piece of paper. 

Design to show and teach.

Innovations Summary.

Innovations Summary.

A fast-changing world.

Knowledge Summary.

Knowledge Summary.

Being a Southern Innovator: An Urban Guide.

Turning Waste into Wealth: A Southern Innovator's Guide.

Managing the workflow: Getting things done.

© 2017

© David South Consulting 2017


David South Consulting Online for Seven Years | November 2017


When it first launched in 2010, the David South Consulting ( website was beautiful but sparse. Designed by one of Iceland's top graphic designers and illustrators, Solveig Rolfsdottir, it was basically an online CV (curriculum vitae). 

A lot has happened since: the new global magazine Southern Innovator was launched, the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) came to an end in 2015, the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) launched, and the UN adopted an innovation and South-South agenda, and so did many other countries, including China. And the content of the website has expanded to reflect this. The entire archive of the influential United Nations e-newsletter Development Challenges, South-South Solutions can be found here, as well as many resources chronicling the international development journey from the late 1990s.   

We even moved to a new studio and headquarters next to a bird sanctuary and nature reserve (matching our green words with green actions)!

The front page of the David South Consulting website.   

About David South Consulting.


Services at David South Consulting. 

David South Consulting had an Alexa rank of 7,243,014 in 2017.

David South Consulting international clients.

Practice Zones and HQ and Studio for David South Consulting.© David South Consulting 2017


Southern Innovator on the UNOSSC Website | November 2017

Southern Innovator among the South-South publications available from the United Nations Office for South-South Cooperation (UNOSSC).

Southern Innovator among the South-South publications available from the United Nations Office for South-South Cooperation (UNOSSC).

All five issues of Southern Innovator available from the United Nations Office for South-South Cooperation (UNOSSC).

© 2017

© David South Consulting 2017