Wednesday, September 21, 2011

The best ideas of the world according to Katerva.

Katerva is a UK based charity organization whose mission is to “accelerate ingenious ideas that will enable the global community to live sustainably with the planet.” Katerva recently announced their global sustainability ideas and it is worth taking the time to look over the brightest sustainability thinkers and their innovations.

The categories of review includes: behavioral change, economy, energy & power, food security, gender equality, human development, material resource, protected area, transportation, and urban design. Aside from some minor time frame requirements from Katerva, these innovations are evaluated based on their activity and flexibility to scale, primary purpose encompassing sustainability, and their overall inventiveness and potential impact. I’ve attached a list of the finalist from each category below, let’s take a look at each category closely and see if we can identify some synergies amongst them.

Behavioral Change

The finalists here focus on global grassroots organization and collective public actions via technology. The Internet has brought the world closer and with incentives, the world is acting more in unison. Collective efforts as well as collective knowledge sharing became the vehicle of problem solving. Aside from the traditional systematic approach, some of the finalists here also utilized game and immersion theories to actualize alternative thinking and bring about ontological challenges to the status quo. The finalists are: is creating a global movement to stop the climate crisis through online campaigns, grassroots organizing, and mass public actions that are led from the bottom up by thousands of volunteer organizers in over 188 countries.

Avaaz is an online community that aims to find and communicate a way to build a better world. Their work on the Global Climate Wake-up Call showed what can be done through the commitment of concerned citizens working together.

Alternative reality computer games aim to provide better and more immersive alternatives to reality. The EVOKE game aims to make the world a better reality.

Scientists Without Borders
Addressing poverty, environmental degradation, food security and disease epidemics demands scientific and technological expertise shared across geographic borders. Scientists Without Borders provides a web-based platform as a means for sharing expertise and collaborating to address the world’s major problems.

Verdeate is an online movement that uses social media to promote greener habits by allowing participants to accept or create Green Challenges—specific acts to reduce their CO2 emissions as part of a collective effort to combat climate change.


The focus under this category is equity and infusion. Old banking ways are combined with new social responsibility models to create economic incentives for positive change. The finalists are:

Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves
The Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves hopes to save lives, empower women, improve livelihoods and combat climate change by re-examining the way food is cooked in developing countries.

KNIDS Green is a project that reorients vegetable production and sales for the benefit of farmers and vendors.

Recyclebank believes mobilizing a large group of people to make small lifestyle changes can have an astounding collective positive impact on the environment.

Sustainable Stock Exchanges
Aviva Investors, UNPRI, UN Global Compact and UNCTAD have teamed up to promote sustainability reporting in the world’s stock exchanges.
EBay’s is the world’s largest multi-seller marketplace for socially and environmentally responsible shopping, which features thousands of products from around the world and combines trust and transparency with the online shopping experience.

Energy & Power

The theme here is also about equity but substitutes economic incentives with environmental impacts. Reduction of nonrenewable dependency is the focus and adaptation of natural processes are trending. The most exciting idea to note here is that we have finally accepted the superiority of natural phenomena and begin to learn from nature as opposed to controlling nature.

Barefoot Power
More than $10 billion is spent each year on kerosene for lighting the homes of the poor in developing countries. Barefoot Power helps poor families stop spending their scarce cash by providing a safer and cheaper option.

Researchers at Innowattech and Technion Institute of Technology in Haifa, Israel have discovered a new way to generate clean energy by converting the mechanical energy from highways and railroads into electricity.

The Nanosolar Utility Panel is the industry’s first solar power panel specifically designed for utility-scale deployment. Its power plants don’t require high voltage transmission and feed green electricity directly into the power grid.

OPXBIO is a Colorado-based company manufacturing renewable bio-based chemicals and fuels.
Sun Catalytix (Nocera)

In mimicking what plants do best, a group of MIT chemists led by Dr. Dan Nocera has developed the first artificial leaf that can feasibly convert sunlight and water to energy in an affordable and accessible way.

Food Security

Education and comprehensive information studies are the underlying current in this category. Global food security combined with business process thinking drives the healthy trend. Here we also note grassroots documentation and development along side of peace and security issues. There is obvious synergies here with emerging economic incentives and models seen in the previous category.

CoFed trains and educates student leaders nationwide to establish food cooperatives that offer healthy, locally-grown, fair and sustainable alternatives to the fast-food options usually available on college campuses.

The China Study
The China study is the most comprehensive study of nutrition ever conducted. This exhaustive presentation of the findings from the China Study conclusively demonstrates the link between nutrition and heart disease, diabetes, and cancer.

Crop Trust
The Global Crop Diversity Trust seeks to ensure the conservation and availability of crop diversity for food security worldwide.

Sustainable Food Lab
The Sustainable Food Lab (SFL) aims to employ new business models to accelerate the global shift toward a healthy and sustainable food system that can feed the world’s growing population.

Two Degrees Food
Two Degrees nutrition bars link consumer purchases with the achievement of on-the-ground development objectives with the idea that only two degrees separate us from helping the 200 million children who suffer from hunger and malnutrition around the world.

Gender Equality

This is the category that specifically addresses equity and our human condition. Health issues, rights issues, both civil and political freedoms as well as social and economic freedoms are combined with the power of social technology to help develop an international standard of human rights. Although the specific focus here is gender equality, the implications are wide and profound. Only time will tell the broad implications of rights development under this category.

DNA Foundation
The Demi & Ashton Foundation (DNA) hopes to end child sex slavery by raising public awareness and finding innovative solutions to free and rehabilitate victimized children around the world.

Girl Up, a United Nations Foundation initiative, channels the energy and enthusiasm of adolescent girls in North America into providing help – and hope – for girls in developing countries.

Maternova is a web-based innovation portal: one part long-range media company covering innovations focused on saving lives in childbirth, one part marketplace for lifesaving ideas and tools.

The GSMA mWomen Programme, launched with U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton in October 2010, addresses the key barriers to women’s ownership of mobile phones.

Pixel Project
The Pixel Project is an innovative virtual volunteer-led non-profit organization using social media and online strategies to turbo-charge global awareness about violence against women while raising funds and volunteer power for the cause.

Human Development

This is a more generalized category for the human condition focusing on human rights. Health care issues prevails in this category as well as emergency management and global security.

HPTN 052 HIV Treatment as Prevention Study
HIV-infected individuals who undergo immediate antiretroviral therapy (ART) significantly reduce the risk of infecting their sexual partners by 96%, according to a breakthrough clinical study by the HIV Prevention Trials Network (HPTN). Known as HPTN 052, the study examined whether HIV-infected individuals who started immediate ART treatment versus those who delayed ART would reduce the risk of transmitting HIV to their non-infected partners while also improving their own well-being.

Satellite Sentinel
To stop war atrocities in Sudan, George Clooney and John Prendergast of Enough Project launched the Satellite Sentinel Project (SSP) to monitor the region for human rights violations.

Solar Autoclave
The Solarclave is a low-cost, solar-powered device used to safely and reliably sterilize surgical instruments in developing country clinics that lack the necessary infrastructure and tools to perform much-needed surgical procedures.

Tsunami Detection
The massive destruction caused by the recent tsunami in Japan and the 2004 tsunami in the Indian Ocean show the need for better tsunami detection methods that can provide early warnings to coastal residents and thereby save thousands of lives. Tony Song of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California found a way to use NASA’s existing global positioning system (GPS) networks to track ocean floor movements immediately after an earthquake and estimate the resulting tsunami’s size and magnitude within a few minutes.

Twin Sat Earthquake Detection
Developed by a team of British and Russian scientists, the TwinSat project hopes to accurately predict where and when earthquakes will occur.
Materials & Resources

This category takes a keen focus on the principles of reduce, reuse, and recycle in the context of innovation. Again, the theme that we are learning from nature and developing from natural processes as opposed to man-made ones and exhaustible ones is a positive sign.

Ecovative has discovered a way to grow a sustainable replacement to Styrofoam and other plastics by using mushroom “roots” to bond together plant byproducts like seed husks into strong bio-composite materials.

Sustainable chemical company Genomatica have developed a GREEN BDO in which living bacteria replace fossil fuels in the production of a common industrial chemical Butanediol (BDO).

Innovation in Aerogels
A team of researchers led by Dr. Lei Zhai and postdoctoral associate Jianhua Zou at the University of Central Florida have discovered a way to create a larger conductive area in a smaller space through the use of nanotechnology.

Inspired by an abalone shell, MIT scientists have found a way to program viruses to construct powerful new batteries, clean hydrogen fuels and record-breaking solar cells.

Sanergy, which was founded by MIT alumni, provides low-cost, sustainable, franchised sanitation centers throughout Kenya to address one of the biggest problems in developing economies today—poor and inefficient access to clean and safe sanitation.

Protected Areas

Clean the Ganges
The Ganges River is India’s largest river, and is considered one of its most sacred by the Hindus, but now ranks among the five most polluted rivers in the world. The Clean the Ganges Project, a consortium led by the Government of India, is making an unprecedented effort to clean the Ganges up.

Ecuador Yasuni Rainforest Conservation
Putting social and environmental values before profit, the Ecuadorian government set up the Yasuni Ishpingo Tambococha Tiputini (ITT) Trust Fund to protect one of the world’s most valuable and diverse biological reserves by promising to keep oil permanently underground.

Nature Conservancy Improved Fisheries
In Port Clyde, Maine, the Nature Conservancy is working with fishing communities to test nets with holes of different shapes and sizes in order to better manage catches and restore the health of fish populations.

Rwanda Forest Conservation
The leaders of war-torn Rwanda plan on taking a bold step to rebuild their country by restoring its natural support systems.

Sustainability is not just an idea for the women of Yorkin, Costa Rica. It is a guiding principle they have chosen for ensuring the well being of their families and community. Stibrawpa is an organization of women working towards improving the lives of their families, protecting natural resources, and strengthening indigenous culture.


I regret not seeing any infrastructure proposals and rethinking about our dependency on the urban sprawls of the past.

Rethinking every element of current vehicle design, Edison2 has developed the Very Light Car (VLC), an ultra-efficient, light vehicle with low aerodynamic drag, which was recently named winner of the Automotive X PRIZE.

Nissan Leaf
The Nissan LEAF is zero-emission, all-electric vehicle with an ambitious mission. The LEAF acronym promises a vehicle that is a Leading, Environmentally-friendly, Affordable, Family car.

With a fuel consumption of 261 mpg, the Volkswagen XL1 aims to redefine the automobile industry by becoming the world’s most fuel-efficient hybrid car.

By simply using water, you can improve your car’s mileage, reduce emissions and clean your engine at the same time. GreenFuel Lab has developed Water is Fuel (WIF), an innovative device that converts water into hydrogen.

Passengers at London’s Heathrow Airport can now board their personal ULTra PRT pod and go straight to their destination without worrying about long waits for an airport bus, gridlocked traffic or their carbon footprint. ULTra is an innovative personal rapid transit (PRT) system, which can provide a fast, emission-free transport service between urban destinations.

Urban Design

Reduction by design is the highlight of this category. Net zero achievements and progressive gains of spaces are the focus from these innovations.

Architecture 2030
Architecture 2030 is a non-profit organization with the goal of achieving a dramatic reduction in the greenhouse gas emissions of the building sector by changing the way buildings and developments are planned, designed and constructed.

Freshkills Park
A former marshland and landfill, New York City’s Freshkills Park (FKP) is being transformed into a productive and beautiful landscape, exemplifying the ability to restore our natural environment.

HOK Vanderweil
The HOK/Vanderweil ‘Process Zero: Retrofit Resolution’ is the winning net zero energy proposal for redesigning a 46-year-old federal office building in downtown Los Angeles for the 2011 Next Generation Design Competition by Metropolis Magazine.

Hylozoic Ground
Walls and surfaces that literally breathe, swallow, and wave to gently create a healthy building environment are just some of the many aspects that make Hylozoic Ground anything but static architecture.

Bjarke Ingels Group Waste to Energy/Ski Resort
Besides creating energy from waste, a new waste management plant in Copenhagen will also be providing local residents with a year-round ski resort.

On synergy: Sustainability is about People, Planet, Profit. From these various finalists in each category, we note the commonalities of innovation that drives a particular subset of synergy development. Civil political rights, economic social rights, along with the implicated social technology and grassroots; breaking down national borders and gender and racial identities, making the best of our conditions as given by nature and not to conquer it; finally, the ability to conserve, protect, and innovate to rebuild our world into a sustainable one. I'd say the future is hopeful.

Katerva is a UK-registered charity organization which serves to identify, award & accelerate ingenious ideas that will enable the global community to live sustainably with the planet. The Katerva Awards are the pinnacle of global sustainability recognition. The name Katerva (Ca-tair-vah) is derived from the Latin word Caterva—meaning “crowd.” Katerva serves to harness the wisdom and passion of the crowd to make necessary global change.

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