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From the Industrial Revolution to Communication Technologies – What is the Next Wave of Innovation?

Dr. James Bradfield Moody was the last, but far from the least, speaker at the panel session of the opening day of the 2012 World Resources Forum, which included Rocky Mountain Institute Chairman and Chief Scientist Amory Lovins and Yale Professor Thomas Graedel. Many important topics were addressed, from resources efficiency and recycling to societal values. However, being the youngest speaker of the day, Dr. Bradfield Moody, not only connected brilliantly with the audience but he managed to make the boldest prediction about the future. Dr. Bradfield Moody is presently on a sabbatical from his position as Executive Director, Development at the one of the world’s largest and most diverse global research organisations, The Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO). He is also Australian National Commissioner for UNESCO and on the Advisory Council of the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

Sophisticated Machinery Does Not Solve the Waste Problem

No longer is waste a muddled, stinking pile of garbage. With evermore refined technology, the waste management industry has finally come of age. The most recent technological hubbub in waste management has been made by a Finnish company called ZenRobotics. Their only marketable product, a robotic recycling arm, purportedly utilises a variety of sensors to distinguish different types of materials in a waste stream and then separates them accordingly. Whilst technological advances are impressive in their own right, increasing technological sophistication does not provide an all-encompassing solution to the global waste problem.

The Heart of Green Economy is Technology

The Technology Economy panel at the ISEE 2012 Conference – Ecological Economics and Rio+20 discussed the urgent need of a governing body for technology assessment specifically focused on geoengineering.  The panel discussed the potential for the UN to adopt an international institute to assess and monitor the safety of new and existing technology using the precautionary principle. Panelist Pat Mooney, Right Livelihood Award winner (Alternative Nobel Prize), and  ETC Group founder, said that the global governance of geoengineering technologies is the key to improving knowledge exchange on technological adoptions. According to the 2012 New Oxford English dictionary, geoegineering is defined as “the deliberate large-scale manipulation of an environmental process that affects the earth’s climate, in an attempt to counteract the effects of global warming.” Basically, it has a technological approach that does not include the change in consumption patterns or the promotion of low-tech organic agriculture.

Village of Solutions: Highlights from the WWC Press Tour

Yesterday the World Water Council (WWC), parent organization of the World Water Forum, led members of the press on a tour of the Forum’s “Village of Solutions.”  The Village represents an innovative new platform that highlights the central theme of the sixth Forum – solutions.  After the tour, WWC President Loic Fauchon was kind enough to speak with me about making the Village a reality at the Sixth Forum. A set of low, white structures lining a wood deck thoroughfare, the Village sits at the thematic and spatial center of the forum.  It consists of seven sheltered exhibits: Library, Bank, City Hall, Factory, School, Slum and Agora.  Each one represents a different element of a solution-oriented approach to thinking about the world’s water. The Village is populated by a set of 70 solutions, chosen from several thousand entries submitted to the globally-oriented and newly created online water solutions platform:  The solutions represented at the conference are concrete, obviously workable and easily-replicated while producing measurable gains, explains Sonia Birki from the WWC President’s office. In keeping with the ancient traditions of the Mediterranean, the Agora sits at the center of the Village with an open-air town square and a coffee shop.  Visitors mingle and meet to discuss their opinions.  Large screens in the coffee shop display information from the various exhibits in the Village. Potted palms dot Main Street and define seating areas in front of and around the Agora.  A line of dry toilets stands across from the Agora provides an opportunity for coffee drinkers to experience one more solution first hand.

Introduction to Green Growth Challenges and Goals

The title of this session was “Green Growth: No Nature, No Water, No Growth.” When one contemplates the topic of green growth as it relates to both human innovation and ‘nature’, a compassionate thinker might also imagine what a rabbit or dolphin might say about its plight if it could speak about the associated ‘nature’ descriptor of this session theme.  While this session unfortunately did not incorporate a dolphin or bunny agenda, there were fortunately strong messages conveyed which described the need for transparency, restraint, and partnership.  The theme of this year’s session was ‘solutions.’ This theme pushes people to discuss how to accomplish agreed-upon goals instead of continuing to identify the same problems repeatedly. Several speakers peppered talk of the upcoming Rio+20 conference into their discussion on the challenges of solving future water-related problems from intensifying demand.

The New Industrial Revolution Is Coming? No, It’s Already Here!

It’s a gorgeous day in Provence for the start of the sixth World Water Forum! The excitement is high at Parc Chanot in Marseille as ministers, delegations, media and students arrive in droves. The Marseille Rêve Choir, along with the Bamboo Orchestra and 250 children from schools around the city, kicked off the Opening Ceremony at the Palais des Événements, singing a beautiful song composed by Eric Benzi specifically for the event. The lyrics certainly echoed the sentiment that’s coursing through the venue – it’s time to move beyond talk and get our hands dirty finding real solutions to pressing global water issues. The buzz comes from the title and goal of the WWF6 – “time for solutions.”

Not in Kenya to charge for a basic human right – Vestergaard Frandsen’s CEO on its Life Straw

Laura Burger reports from the International Environment House in Geneva where two short documentaries were screened, “When the Water Ends” and Carbon for Water, which focus on the subject of health, lack of clean water and climate change in Sub-Saharan Africa, Friday 28 October. Includes an interview with the CEO of Vestergaard Frandsen a venture that states to create life-saving products for the most vulnerable. Carbon for Water & The Life Straw – Interview with Mikkel Vestergaard Frandsen, CEO Vestergaard Frandsen by Studentreporter

“We are the 99%”. This is called out at the major financial hubs around the world – from the Wall Street in New York to the Paradeplatz in Zurich, occupied by people who are concerned about and unsatisfied with our economic system, ruled by institutions that control most of the wealth of the world. But what are the alternatives?

The favourite scapegoat

Free market economy is often blamed to be the scapegoat these days, especially  in discussions on sustainability and resources efficiency. Enterprises are accused for using resources irresponsibly. Some experts demand for stronger regulations, others claim that adapted economic models and even command economy are needed to solve the resources problem. In my opinion, the  implementation of measures that go against free market economy does not make any sense. Why?

Blue Economy: Sustainability or how to challenge entrepreneurs

On the very first session, the high level of the keynotes quickly engaged me. Dr J. Potocnik European, European Comissioner of the Environment, emphasized the fact that innovation is not just about technology but also about our behaviour. I agree: first in the minds of every entrepreneur should be achieving growth that enforces intelligent thinking. This sentence strucked me and reminded me οn my encounter with Günter Pauli at the HUB Madrid, where he was presenting his last book : the “blue economy”. The blue economy is best illustrated by an example from Günter Pauli: when you drink a cup of coffee, you are only consuming 0.01% of all the product’s supply chain.

How to reconcile Sustainability and Urbanisation – with Mark Swilling

“Should we limit the use of ressources?” Mark Swilling will reflect on this during the first plenary session, basing his presentation on “Africa’s Development Challenges in a Resource Constrained World”. However, he also had declared “The key, it’s the innovation” during his collaboration on the United Nations Environment Program; as he trusts in mankind’s capacity to invent new sustainable technologies. He also pointed out the challenge of urbanisation which offers pooling services and scale economy. He emphasizes a paradox about urban zones : they use more resources but they also have a bigger potential for innovation. Currently, Mark Swilling is professor at the School of Public Leadership, University of Stellenbosch.