Republic of Colombia. Social innovation for peace building in Colombia

Learning from international experiences in peace process scenarios
The World Bank Report (2017)

When Colombia signed a peace agreement with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) guerrillas on August 25, 2016, it signaled the end of hostilities between two parties that had been at war since 1964. This turning point marks the possible commencement of a new era. As a post-conflict society, Colombia faces development challenges that the country must address to build and consolidate a lasting and sustainable peace process.


International experience indicates these challenges take time to unravel, but it is time that Colombia does not have. Since adopting the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in 2015, Colombia and other developing economies are expected to meet targets by 2030, including the proposed SDG 16, "Promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels".


Nationwide peace-building strategies from economies such as the Basque Region as well as emerging interventions from developing countries have demonstrated how government and non-governmental actors can support more innovative, inclusive development and resilient approaches. These new ways of connecting the socio-economic transformation agenda with the reconciliation and peace process, in many instances overlooked, can be used to generate employment and improve social cohesion in post-conflict situations. Social innovation driven by social enterprises, citizens, and governments can empower local economic activity, which impacts peace-building efforts.


This report seeks to understand the role of social innovation in peace process scenarios and its implications for the historic opportunity Colombia has ahead. It explores the facets and characteristics of social innovation, how that relates to a peace process scenario in other regions of the world, as well as the Colombian context, and debates the reason why Colombia must catalyze investment and resources promoting social innovation to achieve inclusive and sustainable growth.


The report looks at commonly identified characteristics of social innovation and the most important characteristics of social innovation in a peace process context to identify: (1) key theoretical elements and considerations for a definition of social innovation; (2) dimensions of a definition of social innovation in the peace process context; and (3) the most suitable dimensions of social innovation for Colombia.


To provide elements to support the development of an economic rationale for Colombia to invest in social innovation, the report presents international examples of countries that have included it as part of successful peace process strategies. It builds upon an analysis of the dimensions of social innovation for peace process in Colombia, the importance of social innovation as an alternative approach to address development challenges, rewarding international examples of the role of social innovation in peacebuilding, and past experiences of social innovation in peace in Colombia. The report proposes a series of recommendations to include social innovation as one alternative way to address drivers of conflict in the country and contribute to build a lasting and sustainable peace.