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Water, energy, urban life – innovation can change everything

Innovation has the power to transform our world. With new discoveries, we can find more sustainable ways to live our lives and take care of ourselves, each other and our planet. Capturing the opportunities that new technologies bring, and especially to help us realize the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), was in focus at the 2018 Multi-stakeholder Forum on Science, Technology and Innovation (STI) for the Sustainable Development Goals on 5-6 June.

Hosted for the third year at UN Headquarters in New York, the STI Forum featured expert discussions and also partnered with the Global Innovation Exchange to issue a global call for innovations, encouraging innovators from around the world to submit their solutions to the challenges we face in our quest to achieve the goals. The entries were assessed based on their creativity, scaleability, and potential to make a meaningful impact on implementation of the SDGs.

Out of more than 300 submissions, the 11 winners were invited to showcase their innovations during the Forum. On 5 June, UN DESA got the opportunity to interview them live on Facebook, bringing our audiences closer to these game-changing projects.

Some of them work on securing safe drinking water for communities. Today, 2.1 billion people lack safely managed drinking water services, the World Health Organization and United Nations Children’s Fund estimate. Keneth Ndua’s Jiko Raha, a fuel-efficient biomass stove, is one of them. Through this stove, people in Kenya are able to boil water while cooking to get safe drinking water.

Sydney Gray, the Founding Director of Maji Mamas, introduced the soil-block technology that helps the Maasai women in Kenya bring and sell water to their communities. This technology not only expands water access for local residents, but also increases the women’s income by 300 per cent.

Clean energy is another focus. Ben Jeffreys from ATEC* showed models of their Biodigester, which transfers kitchen and manure waste to gas and organic fertilizer. Some countries in Southeast Asia has already benefited from this invention. Mr. Jeffreys evaluated that the Biodigester saves $313 for an average Cambodian family every year.

This type of resource recycling was the core idea of many of the projects on display. The FoPo turns wasted fruits and veggies into food powder and use it to promote healthy diets. The Ocupa Tu Calle project of Lima Cómo Vamos applies recycled industry materials to recover abandoned lands in Peru, thus to reduce inequality in access to public space for people with lower income while improving quality of urban life.

For the innovators, the exhibition of their projects during the STI Forum is a great chance to showcase their solutions, while at the same time seeking investments to bring the solutions to wider audiences.

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