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Sustainable Development

Are smart cities the solution to a more sustainable future?

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Are smart cities the solution to a more sustainable future?

A Smart City can be defined as a city that uses digital technologies to enhance performance and well being, to reduce costs and resource consumption, and to engage more effectively and actively with its citizens. Key 'smart' sectors include transport, energy, health care, water and waste. A smart city should be able to respond faster to city and global challenges than one with a simple 'transactional' relationship with its citizens.

With overcrowding, pollution, inadequate use of finite resources, and many other factors, it has become obvious to many cities that our current way of life is not sustainable. Thus many urban locations are turning to newer, more adaptive, “smarter” ways of thinking and growing.

Malmo, Sweden: A former polluted industrial center home to several nuclear power plants. Malmo has turned over a new leaf, pledging to become carbon neutral by 2020 and to run entirely on renewables by 2030. Projects such as sustainable building developments, aquifer storage systems, and mandatory building codes that include requirements for vegetated roofs and walls are only part of what makes this city “smart.”

Read more on Malmo and other leading Smart Cities on Mashable.com

 

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How can private-sector investment increase capital while impacting climate change in Sub-Saharan Africa?

How can private-sector investment increase capital while impacting climate change in Sub-Saharan Africa?

The US-Africa Clean Energy Finance (ACEF) initiative reportedly reached 100% commitment of their initial $20 million project funds in December. The project was designed to support early stage private-sector investment in renewable energy in Sub-Saharan Africa. ACEF was launched at the UN Conference on Sustainable Development 2012 under then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. At the US-Africa Leaders Summit in August of 2014, current Secretary of State John Kerry announced his support for the project and pledged that the US will invest another $10 million. 

So far the project has seen much success and praise with funds having been invested in nearly 30 different renewable energy projects in 10 African countries. The US Trade and Development Agency reports: “The initial $20 million of funding has the potential to lead to more than 400 megawatts of new renewable power in Africa and could mobilize more than $1.5 billion in project capital, a ratio of $75 for every $1 from the ACEF program.” The initiative has a goal of making energy more reliable in Sub-Saharan Africa in both urban and rural environments while also inviting private investment. Projects include a 150 megawatt wind farm in Senegal and a 12 megawatt “run-of-the-river” hydroelectric power facility in Rwanda. 

Todd Stern, US special envoy for climate change at the US State Department states: “ACEF is an excellent example of how we can use limited public resources to leverage the private financing necessary to fuel low-carbon growth in developing countries – a key step in meeting the challenge to address climate change.

Learn more about this initiative here.

How can nations hit by Ebola avoid food security crises?

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How can nations hit by Ebola avoid food security crises?

The Food and Agriculture Organization has devised a plan to attempt to fend off this looming disaster

Food security has been a pressing issue in many parts of Africa for decades. But the recent outbreak of Ebola in northern Africa along with the changing climate and increased subsidies from the EU have stretched many countries to their limits. As the countries hardest hit by Ebola, namely Sierra Leone, Liberia, and Guinea are some of the poorest in the world, this has stretched their already tight budgets and put them in an even greater bind. While the Green Morocco Plan in conjunction with the later developed National Charter for the Environment and Sustainable Development provide an ideal example of what countries struggling with food security and climate change can do in the long term, the fragile state of the countries still battling Ebola require an immediate emergency response to food shortage, especially as this season’s crop harvest has just begun. With expected major labor shortages and a severely threatened cash crop production, what is being done in response to this desperate need for help? 

The Food and Agriculture Organization recently published a strategy to combat the potential crisis through their Regional Response Program with an estimated 12 month time span based on four main pillars:

1. Save lives by stopping the spread of disease.

2. Boost incomes and agricultural production to safeguard livelihoods.

3. Build resilience of communities to disease threats.

4. Strengthen coordination for improved response.

With an expected budget of $30 million, the FAO expects to help nearly 90,000 of the most affected farming households. Click here to read more on the Regional Response Program. The issue of food security in the countries most affected by Ebola provides proof that the effects of this disease leaves almost no one and nothing untouched. From labor shortages, to migration and movement restrictions, it seems that everything that could go awry, has. To read more on the widespread effects of this dangerous virus and the likely vicious poverty cycle it has caused, click here.

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Vava Coffee: Sourcing Green Coffee in Kenya

Vava Coffee empowers coffee farmers around Kenya by sourcing the best beans, providing training to the farmers and helping the farmers transition to organic farming using best farming practices. As a social enterprise, Vava Coffee  provide employment and sustainable revenues with the various self help groups we work with that make some our packaging materials. Vava will be adding profiles of their projects to the map as part of Navvi beta!

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