Social Innovation

An Independent Section By Mediaplanet by Ash Macleod, reposted from the Vancouver Sun

Interview with James Tansey: British Columbia is already a vibrant centre for social innovation, but it has the potential to become the leading hub in the world for enabling collaboration between the public, private, and nonprofit sectors to tackle some of the most pressing problems we face as a species.

Question: What is social innovation?
Answer: Social innovation has many companions, including social entrepreneurship, social finance, social economy and, through the lens of the private sector, the concept of ‘creating shared value.’ Rather than trying to pin down a precise definition, it is better to think of social innovation as an umbrella concept that involves new approaches to old problems and collaboratively engages public, private and nonprofit sectors. Social innovation as a concept reminds us that the goal of a society that lives and works together is not simply to deliver abstract goals like maximizing profit, reducing bureaucracy or improving reciprocity, but also to solve social problems and improve human well- being. Social innovation captures three key global trends across the three sectors — social innovation in the public sector, strategic corporate social responsibility and scaling nonprofit social innovation.

Question: Why is social innovation important for our society?
Answer: As the most successful species on the planet, we now face challenges that are mostly of our own creation. Global warming is the by-product of our success and expanding energy sources and it now threatens to change the planet at an unprecedented rate. Economic growth has been unequal and excludes some socio-demographic groups from participating in the benefits secured by the majority. For some populations, the social services that are supposed to protect and support them have created cycles of dependency that seem hard to break. At the heart of social innovation are two core observations. Firstly, in the 21st century most of the problems we face are social in origin. Secondly, for many of the challenges we face, no single sector can make progress alone. To break down the silos between the sectors we need new processes of innovation and new forms of collaboration.

Question: What’s an example of social innovation in BC?
Answer: Registered Disability Savings Plans (RDSP), because it allows families to plan for long term well-being for their children with disabilities.