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IDEASS is an International cooperation programme aimed at strengthening integrated and participatory territorial development processes, by stimulating an increasing use of innovations. It seeks to enhance the capacity of public and private territorial actors to meet the needs of the local population by using innovative working methods and tools that have been effectively used both at the national level and in other countries.

The framework of IDEASS is the commitments of the main international summits of the ‘90s and the Millennium Assembly, with priority given to cooperation among Southern actors, and with the support of the more industrialized countries. IDEASS facilitates the identification, promotion, and transfer of those innovations which have demonstrated their contribution to human development, the enhancement of environmental resources and the reduction of poverty and social exclusion.

“Development and technology enjoy an uneasy relationship: within development circles there is a suspicion that technology-boosters are all too often people who promote expensive and inappropriate solutions without taking into account development realities. Indeed, the belief that there is a technological silver bullet that can ‘solve’ illiteracy, bad conditions of health or economic failure reflects a superficial knowledge of the reality of poverty. However, if the co-operative communities overlook the explosion of technological innovations in food, medicine and information, they risk marginalizing themselves and denying developing countries opportunities that, if carefully examined, could transform the lives of poor people and offer new development opportunities to poor countries.” (UNDP 2001 Human Development Report). UNDP refers here to technological innovation; it is clear, however, that the same concept could be applied to other forms of innovation, especially in social and economic practices. There is little systematic recourse to innovation in development circles, but innovative practices could contribute significantly to the pursuit of development objectives.
IDEASS is a thematic complement to the activities of human development and anti-poverty programmes realized by the Governments of various countries, with the support of UNDP, ILO, UNIFEM, UNOPS and other United Nations Organizations. These programmes promote integrated and participatory territorial development processes, in the framework of national policies and with the support of public and private actors, and civil society. They represent a framework within which various international cooperation actors can collaborate in a coordinated way. More then 300 local administrations of the most industrialized countries operate in these programmes through decentralized cooperation. IDEASS collaborates with those administrations that, through their specialized structures, identify qualified innovations which contribute to territorial development processes, enhancing technical solutions and working methodologies in various fields of action.

In involved countries IDEASS provides support to those national institutions responsible for promoting science and technology, for elaborating strategies and carrying out activities to increase the access of territorial development actors to innovations used elsewhere in the country, or available internationally. The programme is also a tool for fomenting south-south cooperation, by supporting these institutions in systematizing a potential supply of technologies and methodologies which could generate interest in other countries.