Map, connect, strengthen, learn: A look back at the 2014 Innovating Justice Forum

The 2014 Innovating Justice Forum set out to map opportunities, connect new partners strengthen innovations and learn from innovators.

In the months leading up to the Forum, 9 finalists – 6 focused on justice delivery and 3 on living wages – had been carefully selected based on their impact, uniqueness, scalability and financial sustainability. They went through a process of initial scouting and selection, online voting, wildcard selection, and a jury evaluation to decide who would win the 2014 Innovating Justice Awards and Living Wage Innovation Challenge.

Supporting Ideas
The Forum showed that innovators and entrepreneurs often face similar questions: How do I convince others of my passion? How do I approach the many, many stakeholders in my field? How do we unite them and overcome reluctance towards a new approach? And from a business perspective: How do I create a sustainable business model and revenue stream? And on a more personal level: How do I deal with the loneliness of being the first to try something new?

The amount of ideas – sometimes daydreamingly ambitious – that came their way during the Forum may have been overwhelming. But it was also a sign that people are convinced of the impact that innovations can have and that any questions of doubt can be answered.

Getting It Done
From enhancing access to justice to establishing fair rights for factory workers, from the development of the rule of law to creating living wages in the supply chain of the Ready Made Garment-industry, innovation and entrepreneurship are about getting it done.

However, innovators also face many challenges. While having different solutions to different problems, they typically encounter many different stakeholders, each with widely diverging interests. In line with such challenges, it was argued that innovations should not be seen as a silver bullet for large societal problems. And there is truth in this. Social, political and economic institutions that sustain inequality or block access to justice are not easily changed.

In similar fashion, journalist Michael Hobbes warned in a recent article about such thinking. Yet at the same time, Hobbes upholds the argument that development and innovations do have an impact. And the Forum saw many who wish to strengthen the rule of law and improve access to justice – cross-industry and cross-society – to tackle problems and tackle them in a way that others have not done before.

Getting More Done
Innovation and entrepreneurship are also about getting more done. Whether it means resolving disputes online, assuring property rights for the poor, or establishing fair living wages and working rights in complicated industries. So, rather than questioning whether innovations can solve all problems at once, the question should focus on what each innovation can achieve and what can be done to overcome their impediments, to get more of these innovations done.

In this spirit, the 2014 Innovating Justice Forum set out to map, connect, strengthen and learn, by bringing together entrepreneurs, governments, politicians, academic institutions, NGOs and private businesses in a global community of justice innovation. Join us again for next year’s Innovating Justice Forum on 3 and 4 December 2015, to get more done.