The Benefits and Risks of Policy Innovation – November 23, 2018


Good morning subscribers!

Innovation is a term that gets used a lot within the policy community. It is significant in a wide variety of contexts as it is often associated with economic growth and social well-being. Furthermore, in the context of policy it helps governments to develop more efficient and effective ways of achieving their stated objectives and serving the public’s needs. However, just as with most high-reward ventures, innovation must be viewed through an analytical lens. Today’s weekly brief explores some of the benefits and risks of innovation.

Today’s Weekly Brief was prepared by Jasper Paredes. Sign up here to receive the Weekly Brief directly to your inbox.

The Benefits and Risks of Policy Innovation

  • On January 19, 2018, Amazon announced its shortlist of the 20 cities they are considering building their second headquarters in. Toronto is the one Canadian city on that list. This is an important decision for Amazon with strong economic benefits for whichever city they choose. However, Kevin Hempstead explains that although Toronto’s innovative tech-hub status makes Toronto an attractive choice there are risks to skilled labour, housing prices, and capacity that must be taken into account. [Hempstead/PPGR]
  • Innovations like the Keurig K-Cup demonstrate that inventions that are designed to make life easier and processes more efficient can often result in greater waste production and environmental harm. This is a risk that is sometimes neglected by proponents of innovation for the sake of economic growth. Although economic and environmental objectives might initially seem incompatible with one another, Alyssa Wali explains how innovation can be used to simultaneously promote economic growth and environmental responsibility. [Wali/PPGR]
  • Social innovation is loosely understood as a more effective, efficient, and sustainable solution to social problems. This idea has received plenty of support In the United States and is beginning to build support here in Canada. However, despite its proposed ability to transform governance systems and community dynamics, it could have some unintended consequences for vulnerable populations. Moreover, Jasmine CY Lam explains how social innovation could increase social exclusion. [Lam/PPGR] 
  • Innovations in clean technology have helped to cut through the troublesome politics of climate-change policy by incentivizing the adoption of low-carbon energy sources instead of punishing the usage of “dirty” energy. Consequently, policies regarding clean technology have increasingly been regarded as a key component of an effective climate-change plan. However, Michael Levi highlights the political risks, both domestically and abroad, that are created by this strategy. [Issues/Levi]

We hope these articles got you thinking about innovation in Canada and beyond.

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