Category Archives: Environmental

Mexico’s Long Wait for Building Inspections

Thanks;Whitney Eulich

Published;Sept. 27, 2017, at 11:01 a.m

Mexico City — Once Eduardo Mijares and his team of young architects and engineers completed their preliminary inspection of the vast public market Mercado Argentina following the Sept. 19 earthquake, the real work began.

When community members noticed the group of volunteers, decked out in neon work vests and hard hats, they didn’t hesitate to approach.

“Could you come to my house? It’s just around the corner,” one woman asked, poking her head out of the window of her natural foods stall. “When are you coming to look at the school? Can we send our kids on Monday?” a man called out as the group left.

Photos: Earthquake Rocks Mexico

Mexico City fared far better last week than it did on the same day in 1985, when a magnitude 8.1 quake leveled buildings across the city and left thousands dead. But there is still plenty of destruction, with some 40 buildings collapsing and trapping residents, and thousands more suffering damage, officials say. Some 194 people died in Mexico City alone – 27 of them children, according to the mayor. The total number of casualties has climbed to more than 330.

The city is just beginning the long process of deciding which structures will stay and which must go. Some residents have already learned their homes are uninhabitable, moving in with family or sleeping in temporary shelters, while others are trying to decide if they even want to risk a return to damaged – but possibly repairable – properties.

It’s not a quick process, and it’s taking a toll on jittery residents, on edge once again after a 6.1 aftershock swayed the city the following weekend. The inspections could result in many more families permanently losing their homes, and the process creates a test for public institutions that have historically been susceptible to corruption. Some estimate it could take months – or even a year – before at-risk buildings start to come down. Many see this as a dangerous proposition.

But for others, they’d rather avoid certain streets and leaning buildings if it means ensuring that they’re thoroughly checked for signs of building code violations before vital evidence is demolished into a pile of rubble.

When the earth started to shake on Sept. 19, employees in a fifth-floor office building in the Roma Norte neighborhood evacuated past broken support beams and shattered walls.

The asset manager for the building, Rafael Espeja, immediately put out calls for an inspection, he says. An inspector with qualifications recognized by the city arrived the next day, deeming the structure, built in 1962, in need of demolition. Several support columns were floating a few inches off the ground. The neighboring building is evacuated for the time being, due to the risk of the office falling.

“That’s why we are rushing with authorities and the insurance company to tear this down as soon as possible. If there’s an aftershock, it could collapse,” Espeja says.

But, according to Felix Villaseñor, the president of Mexico City’s professional association of architects, even pressing cases like this one may not see any concrete action in terms of demolition for at least a month. Others put the estimate, given the flood of damage and layers of paperwork involved, closer to a year.

Mexico City’s secretary of civil protection, Fausto Lugo, announced this week that there have been more than 10,000 buildings inspected so far, with at least 500 in need of demolition or major reconstruction, and another roughly 1,300 in need of repair. The city said it would initially make available some 3 billion pesos ($1.7 million) of its emergency response fund to help support victims of the quake and reconstruction efforts.

But the priority at the moment is putting resources toward search and rescue.

“We’re getting an impressive number of requests for inspections,” Villaseñor says. The majority are coming via an online form, which at one point had so much traffic that Google shut down the page, suspecting the deluge of requests were spam.

But for those living next door to damaged buildings, the idea of waiting even another day instills more anxiety. In the hard-hit Condesa neighborhood, Lorena Irita Ruiz, 52, looks up at a formerly eight-story building. Brass railings and window frames protrude over the sidewalk in a twisted pile of right angles after one floor collapsed onto another in the quake.

“And if we have a strong aftershock?” asks Ruiz, who is walking back from volunteering at a support center set up in the nearby Parque Mexico. “There are neighboring buildings, people on the street, we’re all in danger while this kind of building remains,” she says before a soldier patrolling the area asks her not to loiter.

After Mexico City’s 1985 quake, building codes were modernized, matching or exceeding global standards for quake-prone cities. But implementation isn’t always enforced.

A 2015 study of Mexico City building code compliance found that “It would appear that the regulator is not performing its duty” in ensuring the enforcement of building standards. Many of the mid-rise buildings evaluated in the study were found not to meet even minimum requirements of the capital’s strict – at least on paper – codes.

Although inspectors doing the first take on damaged structures after Tuesday’s quake say it appears that most buildings that fell or had significant damage were from prior to 1985, there were newer buildings in the mix, as well, underscoring the presence of corruption.

A brand new building in the Portales neighborhood crumbled in the quake, with engineers and architects at the building location reporting that the columns weren’t built to code, according to Mexican news site Animal Politico. Two people died in the collapse.

“Some people are noting the differences between today and 1985 and saying, ‘Look, there’s clear evidence of improvement,'” says Paul Lagunes, an assistant professor at Columbia University’s School for International and Public Affairs, who specializes in corruption and corruption control.

“That’s fair. But 1985 was an extremely low bar…. Yes, we are doing better, but not as well as we should be.”

In front of the Association of Architects, a line of nearly 100 eager volunteers fills the sidewalk. They’re mostly recent graduates or young professionals hoping to contribute their engineering and architecture skills to the earthquake relief efforts. But it’s also a professional development opportunity, as teams of less experienced volunteers are matched with experts like Mijares to conduct an inspection.

Back at the Mercado Argentina, Mijares hasn’t identified any structural damage. But he found the experience heartening. He served as a volunteer on a team like this one when he was a young architect in 1985.

“These kids know far more about building safety than I did at that point in my career,” he says. “I’m hopeful.”

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Governments commit to promote a more resource efficient and pollution free Asia-Pacific

Thanks;Kavita Sukanandan

PUBLISHED;8 Sep 2017

Issued:

8 Sep 2017
News Number:

G/36/2017
Location:

Bangkok
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Environment ministers and high-level officials from over 30 countries in Asia-Pacific have committed to move towards a clean and green Asia-Pacific, one that is more resource efficient and pollution free at the first Asia-Pacific Ministerial Summit on the Environment that concluded today in Bangkok. This will advance global agendas like the 2030 Agenda on Sustainable Development, the UN Environment Assembly resolutions and other global commitments.

The Summit culminated in a call for collaborative action to ensure that environment and development is approached in an integrated way, from promoting the sustainable management of natural resources, urban planning and spatial development, to fostering sustainable agriculture practices and advancing the green economy to reduce waste and pollution.

Participants at the Summit, jointly organized by the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) and UN Environment also highlighted the urgency of addressing environmental health risks associated with pollution, promoting resource efficiency measures and practices, and protecting natural capital and ecosystem integrity including wildlife, biodiversity and oceans.

United Nations Under-Secretary General and Executive Secretary of ESCAP Dr. Shamshad Akhtar said, “This is an important cornerstone of regional collaboration on sustainable management of natural resources in Asia and the Pacific. It underpins the agreement already reached in the regional roadmap for sustainable development and provides us with the vision of our member States on future cooperation.”

“There is a clear resolve to bring about a pollution free Asia Pacific. Political leadership, private sector engagement and citizen action is essential to ensure that people’s basic needs like access to healthcare, water and proper sanitation are met. At the same time, it is imperative that we step up efforts to reduce plastic waste and marine litter,” said Erik Solheim, head of UN Environment.

Other issues addressed at the periphery of the Summit include gender and environment, oceans governance, climate geoengineering, investments in water infrastructure and the Astana Green Bridge Initiative.

There’s a new way to mine for lithium and it’s right here in the U.S.

Thanks;Claudia Assis

Published: Aug 19, 2017 4:14 p.m. ET

Crater Lake in Oregon, a caldera lake formed after a volcano collapse.

Using trace elements as proxy, Stanford says it is easier to detect lithium in supervolcano lake deposits

Scientists at Stanford University say they have found a new way to detect large deposits of lithium, an essential component of rechargeable batteries powering everything from common household electronics and smartphones to electric vehicles.

Stanford researchers say that lake sediments within supervolcanoes can host lithium-rich clay deposits, which would be an important step toward diversifying the supply of the metal—most lithium found in today’s electronics come from deposits in rock formations in Australia and salt flats in Chile. Moreover, trace elements in such deposits can be used as a proxy for lithium, they say in a study.

“Supervolcanoes” produce massive eruptions and their calderas, formed after the volcano literally blows its roof off, are their most recognizable feature. The huge hole post-eruption often fills with water to form a lake, and Oregon’s Crater Lake is an example.

Over tens of thousands of years, rainfall and hot springs leach out lithium from the volcanic deposits, and the lithium accumulates, along with sediments, in the caldera lake where it becomes concentrated in clay, Stanford said.

The scientists analyzed samples from several calderas, and found a previously unknown correlation between trace elements, such as zirconium and rubidium, and lithium concentrations.

Lithium is a volatile element shifting easily from solid to liquid to vapor, and thus it is hard to measure its concentration. Detecting the trace elements as lithium stand-ins, however, geologists will be able to identify candidate supervolcanoes for lithium deposits “in a much easier way than measuring lithium directly,” Stanford said.

“The trace elements can be used as a proxy for original lithium concentration. For example, greater abundance of easily analyzed rubidium in the bulk deposits indicates more lithium, whereas high concentrations of zirconium indicate less lithium,” it said.

The Stanford study was scheduled to be published Wednesday in the journal Nature Communications and was in part supported by a Defense Department fellowship.

Last week, energy news site Oilprice.com wrote about potential lithium constraints, singling out five stock plays for betting on the alkali metal: Albermarle Corp. ALB, +0.43% Canada’s Southern Lithium Corp. SNL, +2.63% Chile’s Sociedad Quimica y Minera de Chile SQM, -0.16% ; the Global X Lithium & Battery Tech ETF LIT, +0.53% and Tesla Inc. TSLA, -1.27%  

The Global X ETF has gained more than 31% so far this year, compared with gains of around 10% for the S&P 500 index SPX, -0.18%

Albemarle earlier this month reported a modest second-quarter earnings beat, saying its lithium sales rose 56% year-on-year and almost all of the gain was in battery-grade lithium.

Analysts at UBS said in a recent note they expect lithium margins at Albemarle to remain above 40% despite an additional $60 million to $70 million in costs from royalty and community payments as well as other expenses.

“Pricing was up 21% in 1Q, 31% in 2Q and the debate continues on how long the industry can maintain that pace,” the UBS analysts said.

The answer, at least as far as electric vehicles are concerned, might be “for a long time.”

Tesla in late July launched its Model 3, an all-electric sedan aimed for the masses, and expects to be able to run its Fremont, Calif., plant at a rate of 500,000 vehicles a year by the end of 2018.

Tesla has talked about adding other commercial and passenger vehicles, including an electric semi truck to be unveiled next month.

INDIANA UNIVERSITY-BLOOMINGTON the best beautiful NO.15 (USA)

THANKS; http://www.thebestcolleges.org

The town of Bloomington, Indiana is the ultimate college town. A campus filed with over 1,200 miles of bike and running trails, this quaint town not only encourages students to embark on a sense of community it nearly demands it. Student can visit “off” campus stores, restaurants and coffee shops just a few steps from the limestone buildings in which they will live and learn. The student building on the IU campus is listed on the National Historical Registrar. The Sample Gates welcome students onto campus. Most of the campus is made of Indiana limestone sourced locally, and was built during the Great Depression by the WPA.

Indiana University- Bloomington is a four-year, public institution in Bloomington, Ind. The university was founded in 1820 as the flagship campus of Indiana University’s eight statewide campuses. U.S. News & World Report ranks Indiana University-Bloomington No. 83 in the National Universities category in its 2013 edition of Best Colleges. Indiana University-Bloomington serves a student population of 42,731 and has a student-to-faculty ratio of 19 to 1. Notable Indiana-Bloomington alumni include composer and songwriter Hoagy Carmichael and Star Trek screenwriter Jeri Taylor.

PROGRAMS OFFERED

Indiana University-Bloomington is composed of eight schools: the College of Arts and Sciences, Kelley School of Business, School of Education, School of Journalism, Jacobs School of Music, School of Nursing, School of Public and Environmental Affairs, School of Social Work. Indiana University-Bloomington offers more than 150 majors and more than 330 degree programs through these eight schools, including programs in African American studies and sociology, animal behavior, cognitive science, drama, ethnomusicology, folklore, accounting, legal studies, education, journalism, music, nursing, public health, urban studies, and social work. Indiana University-Bloomington also offers 190 master’s, doctoral, and professional degrees. Online bachelor’s degree programs are available in business administration, communication studies, criminal justice, English, technical and professional writing, general studies, health information administration, labor studies, mathematics, natural science and mathematics, political science, psychology, and nursing. Online master’s degrees are available in several areas, including in business administration, finance, global supply chain management, instructional systems technology, nursing, recreational therapy, and technology.

ACCREDITATION

The North Central Association of Colleges and Schools has accredited Indiana University-Bloomington since 1913.

ADMISSIONS

Admissions to Indiana University-Bloomington requires prospective students to turn in an online application, a $55 application fee, a high school transcript, and SAT and/or ACT scores. Indiana University- Bloomington requires eight credits of high school English, seven credits of high school mathematics, six credits of social sciences, six credits of sciences, four credits of world languages, and three credits of college-preparatory courses for incoming freshman. The deadline for automatic academic scholarship and selective scholarship consideration is Nov. 1. Applications received after April 1 are considered on a space-available, case-by-case basis.

People in this Swedish town gather in a ‘Solar Egg’ sauna instead of having town halls

Thanks;Leanna Garfield

Published ; Jun. 21, 2017, 5:41 PM

The Solar Egg by Bigert & Bergström.Jean-Baptiste Béranger

On the western border of Kiruna, Sweden, the state-owned mining company, LKAB, has been extracting iron ore from the Kirunavaara mountains for over a decade. But the long-term mining has caused fissures that are creeping closer to the city center of Kiruna.
Now, LKAB — which also founded the Arctic town in 1900 — is funding Kiruna’s relocation nearly two miles east, so that it can continue mining in the mountains.
Moving an entire town is no easy task and requires lengthy discussions with officials, the mining company, and residents. Local architects from Bigert & Bergström have designed one place where those talks can take place: a golden, egg-shaped sauna. 
Completed in late April, the sauna is a place for locals and officials to unwind and discuss questions and concerns about Kiruna’s relocation, the firm told Business Insider.


Located in Kiruna, Sweden, the Solar Egg is a sauna that’s free for anyone to use.

Visitors can book time in the saun ~> https://instagram.com/p/BTI25TCB8px/

By Jean-Baptiste Béranger

Its exterior is made of reflective sheets of plexiglass that were painted gold.


By Jean-Baptiste Béranger

The interior walls are made of pine ….

… and the benches from aspen wood. In the center, there’s a wood-powered stove made from iron and stone. The temperature inside can range from 167 to 185 degrees Fahrenheit (75 to 85 degrees Celsius).


Jean-Baptiste Béranger

The space, which fits up to eight people, is meant to serve as a local meeting place to discuss Kiruna’s relocation plan. “The egg shape seeks to symbolize rebirth and new opportunities at the start of Kiruna’s urban transformation,” the architects said.

Jean-Baptiste Béranger

To avoid being swallowed by the mine, Kiruna will need to move nearly two miles east. The Stockholm-based firm White Architects will be in charge of moving the town, where approximately 23,000 people live. Below is a rendering of what the new city center may look like:


Producing 90% of all iron in Europe, Kiruna’s mine has become the world’s largest iron ore extraction site. LKAB is also the biggest energy consumer in Sweden.
 
“It’s a dystopian choice,” Krister Lindstedt, a partner at White Architects, told The Guardian. “Either the mine must stop digging, creating mass unemployment, or the city has to move – or else face certain destruction. It’s an existential predicament.”Jean-Baptiste Béranger/Source: The Guardian

Later this summer, the Solar Egg will move to Nikkaluokta, a Swedish town about 45 miles west of Kiruna.

Three nations plan 500% increase in global offshore wind

Thanks;Sami Grover Sami Grover (@samigrover)

Published;June 12, 2017
When governments put their minds to it, big things can happen.

Offshore wind advocates cheered recently at news that a German wind farm is going to be built entirely without government subsidy. That said, however, it seems likely that government support—whether in the form of direct subsidies or more generally favorable policy/planning policies—is likely to be a major factor in the success (or not) of offshore wind for some time to come.
That’s why it’s encouraging to hear from Steve Hanley over at Cleantechnica that three nations—Germany, Denmark and Belgium—have signed on to an agreement to support a 5-fold increase in installed offshore wind capacity in the next decade. They’re not just talking about their own capacity either; the target is a global one, meaning an increase of capacity from today’s 13.8 gigawatts to more than 60 gigawatts.
Just imagine what would happen if every nation with suitable shoreline made a similar commitment. (I’m looking at you, USA.)
According to Steve, there’s hope that the agreement will eventually be signed on to by a broader coalition of ten nations who had previously pledged their support for offshore wind energy expansion. At least one of those nations, Great Britain, is currently in a state of political and environmental uncertainty as the world waits to see what its surprise election results really mean for government policy.
Either way, with China and India making more progress on emissions reductions than originally expected, France jockeying hard to seize climate leadership, and large swathes of the United States still pledging to honor the Paris Agreement, this is one more encouraging sign among many that a coalition of the willing could keep climate action well on track, even if there are efforts to sabotage progress in other parts of the world.

Paris agreement or not, solar employment looking brighter than coal

Thanks;Andrea Riquier

Published: June 2, 2017 1:20 p.m. ET

Nearly 400,000 people are employed in solar, more than double the number of coal workers

Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump holds a sign supporting coal during a rally at Mohegan Sun Arena in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania on October 10, 2016.

As he introduced President Donald Trump in the Rose Garden yesterday, Vice-President Mike Pence said the president’s decision to withdraw from the Paris climate accord was his way of putting “forgotten men and women” first.

And if anyone had any doubt who those “forgotten” souls were, the president himself departed from his prepared remarks to riff, “I happen to love the coal miners”But observers of the energy industry say it’s not that coal miners are forgotten. Instead, a perfect storm of workforce automation, a glut of natural gas, and consumer preferences has combined to make them obsolete.

“There are huge tectonic trends that are almost all mitigating against any near-term recovery of coal,” said Mark Muro, director of policy at the Metropolitan Policy Program at the Brookings Institution. “It simply is not needed given the onset of extremely cheap and clean natural gas and the onset of renewables.”
On Friday, National Economic Council Director Gary Cohn was asked about the administration’s emphasis on employment in a shrinking industry. Cohn told CNBC, “At some point in the cycle, coal will be competitive again. We want to keep coal available, we want to be in the coal business.”

But observers of the energy industry say it’s not that coal miners are forgotten. Instead, a perfect storm of workforce automation, a glut of natural gas, and consumer preferences has combined to make them obsolete.

“There are huge tectonic trends that are almost all mitigating against any near-term recovery of coal,” said Mark Muro, director of policy at the Metropolitan Policy Program at the Brookings Institution. “It simply is not needed given the onset of extremely cheap and clean natural gas and the onset of renewables.”
On Friday, National Economic Council Director Gary Cohn was asked about the administration’s emphasis on employment in a shrinking industry. Cohn told CNBC, “At some point in the cycle, coal will be competitive again. We want to keep coal available, we want to be in the coal business.”  

But modern technology – particularly in the large-scale open-pit mining centers of the west, far from the Rust Belt – means that “even if demand for coal returned, the jobs wouldn’t. It’s pretty devastating,” Muro told MarketWatch.

It’s very challenging to break out how many people are employed in any part of the energy industry, in part because there are so many different components to each. There are jobs created in the initial energy generation process, and then there are support categories: manufacturers and installers of rooftop solar panels, for example. The Labor Department classifies many of those installation jobs within the construction industry, for example.
The Labor Department reported Friday that 51,000 people were employed in coal mining in May. But BLS doesn’t break out employment in other forms of energy production in any way for comparison.
In January, the outgoing Obama administration Energy Department released a report on energy and employment that showed that over 370,000 people were employed in the solar industry, compared to 86,000 in the coal industry. Over 101,000 people work in the wind power generation industry.
It’s worth noting that solar is so labor-intensive now in part because it’s just gaining a foothold. About 37% of solar electric generation jobs are construction and installation, the Energy Department’s report noted. So it’s likely that over time, solar won’t be as much of a job creator as it is now.
In 2011, Brookings released a substantial research report on what it termed the “clean economy,” which delved more deeply into job categorizations, among other things. The researchers noted that green energy efforts are beneficial in many ways, including by being manufacturing and export intensive. In 2009, the authors wrote, 5.3% of all U.S. goods exports were from “clean economy establishments.”
The clean economy also “offers more opportunities and better pay for low- and middle- skilled workers than the national economy as a whole,” the report noted.
In May, the International Renewable Energy Agency said the number of people working in the renewables sector internationally could more than double in the next 13 years, “more than offsetting fossil-fuel job losses and becoming a major economic driver around the world.”

Event Preview: InnoPack F&B Confex 2017

Thanks;
PUBLISHED; March 18th, 2017

Water-Bottles

The Packaging industry continues to post strong growth in India. Packaging for Foods is the largest industry in the overall industry. India has continued to be the third largest market globally for Food Packaging in terms of Retail/off-trade Unit Volume. The region also is the eight largest in beverage packaging in terms of total volume.

Given the opportunities it presents we have partnered with UBM India for the 2017 edition of InnoPack F&B Confex organised by UBM India. This is scheduled on the 11th – 12th April, 2017 in Gurgaon, India. This event strives to present a platform for F&B professionals to network, exchange ideas and knowledge, form future alliances and forecast new opportunities for the F&B packaging industry, in the dynamic economic environment.

CONSUMER’S EVOLVING PURCHASING PATTERNS

In addition to demographic changes, the packaging industry in India is also having to respond to changes in the way consumers shop. Strategies have to be adapted to suit urban and rural areas, and also vary across regions in India. Many lower-income demographics are paid on a daily basis and can only afford to shop daily preferring local convenience stores as opposed to shopping on a weekly basis in city centre supermarkets.

Several more consumer specific trends will be addressed by the industry with discussions on – Understanding the F&B packaging based on consumer purchase decisions and Recent updates on the regulations in food and beverage packaging.

GREEN AND SUSTAINABILITY

As the world consumes more resources than it can produce, there is an impetus to push away from a linear economy based on a make/use/dispose model and towards a circular economy based on a reduce/reuse/recycle model that focuses on minimizing waste and recycling or reusing all end products.

A focused conversation – Evaluating different ways to implement sustainable packaging and sustainable printing for food and beverage Industry will also be part of the two day event.

HEALTH TREND, SNACKING AND PACKAGING

The health and wellness trend also encouraged the use of packaging innovation by brand owners in flavoured milk drinks, cheese, processed meat, and fruit and vegetables in developing a snacking product. Strengthening of the snacking trend, led to biscuits, snack bars, confectionery and baked goods overall providing the biggest incremental growth for packaging in foods. Flexible plastic, as a widely used snack pack solution for products such as toffees, caramels, nougat and sweet biscuits, will benefit the most to 2020.

Some of the conversations which would deliberate further on trends include – Exploring the new ways of packaging designs used for food and beverage packaging to attract the customers and Maximizing brand image through packaging.

How ‘guerilla’ start-ups can make the world a better place

Thanks;  & Word Economic Forum

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REUTERS/Thomas Peter

At the Stockholm Tech Fest this year, Swedish entrepreneur Niklas Zennström issued a rare and refreshing call to implement the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in their next startup idea. As founder of Skype, he knows a thing or two about opportunity-spotting.

The UN goals involve complex problems, but when it comes to clever startups, a lot can happen between now and 2030. After all, some of the most exciting ideas in recent decades have come from the “guerilla” startups rather than from the “gorilla” corporations; use of the guerilla’s creativity could help to find solutions to sustainable development problems.

However, it is important to ask: Is Zennström’s call to action just fluff, or is there are a deep enough bench of entrepreneurs with robust ideas? Are there resources to support such startups through different phases of growth?

Historically, keeping the growing body of “social” entrepreneurs nourished has largely fallen to impact investors, foundations, NGOs and a few progressive government agencies. so far, the track record of guerillas has not been stellar; far too often it is the same handful of examples that make the rounds. This is a field that, while not starved for people or ideas, is in need of fresh sources of nourishment. Getting big “gorilla” corporations to work with the “guerilla” startups could provide this nourishment.

Findings from our Inclusion, Inc. research initiative suggest that large corporations are well-placed to unblock startups’ path to wider impact.

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How do we find ideas?

There is a growing pool of budding social entrepreneurs; the Skoll World Forumevent alone offers an encouraging and uplifting glimpse of the many guerillas in our midst. We are experiencing a surge in interest and ideas on university campuses. At UC Berkeley, the Blum Center has highlighted examples of businesses and people already helping to fulfil the goals.

Closer to home, The Fletcher School’s collaboration with the One Acre Fund’s D-Prize draws numerous contestants with ideas for social enterprises that take on “poverty solutions”; in recent years, we have funded a startup that used bus networks to distribute solar lamps to far-flung communities in Burkina Faso; a venture finding sponsors for girls’ high school education; and a ground transportation brokerage to serve as “the connective tissue” between smallholder farmers and transporters.

A second piece of good news is that capital is ready to be mobilised. A 2014 study by J.P. Morgan and the Global Impact Investing Network (GIIN) identified $46bn in impact investments under management, with annual funding commitments estimated to increase by 19% in 2014. Sir Ronald Cohen, chair of the Global Social Impact Investment Taskforce, believes the impact investing market can grow to match the “$3tn of venture capital and private equity.”

According to Judith Rodin and Margot Brandenburg of the Rockefeller Foundation: “Aspirational estimates suggest that impact investments could one day represent 1% of professionally managed global assets, channeling up to hundreds of billions of dollars towards solutions that can address some of our biggest problems, from poor health to climate change.”

What are the bottlenecks?

So, why does all this good news not translate into more meaningful outcomes? Two bottlenecks are worth highlighting. The first is what a Monitor and Acumen study calls the “pioneer gap”. Their 2012 study, From Blueprint to Scale, observes that pioneer firms are starved of capital and support at very early stages in their development.

The second choke point occurs in the phase of actually getting to scale. A second report, Beyond the Pioneer, identifies a chain of barriers to scale, ranging from those within the firm and the industry to those in the domain of public goods and the government.

These bottlenecks represent different forms of market failures. An approach to the first of them involves “de-risking” early stage social ventures. However, a key source of risk is the chain of barriers to scale in later stages. If we can make meaningful advances on lowering the barriers, it helps in de-risking and also supports early-stage startup development.

Given the breadth of the barriers to scale, impact investors, NGOs and foundations would find it challenging to facilitate end-to-end solutions. Apart from funding and convening, such organisations have few other levers. Large corporations, on the other hand, can tackle business model and managerial issues within the firm and help boost negotiating power within the value chain or the public sector.

The biggest questions, of course, have to do with whether the gorilla corporations can ever be organisationally and culturally compatible with the startups. Given the potential for value creation these gaps are worth taking on.

The Monitor and Acumen study lists potential barriers: “firm level” barriers, which include weak business models, propositions to customers/producers, leadership and managerial and technical talent and a lack of capital.

Eye Mitra, launched in 2013, had trained over 1,000 young entrepreneurs and reached 150,000 people by the end of 2015. The business helps individuals to set up eye care provider businesses in rural communities using low-cost products.

According to a study by Dalberg Global Development Advisors [pdf], the programme added $4m a year in impact across the six districts surveyed; with Essilor’s scaling resources, Eye Mitra could represent the potential to unlock economic impact of $487m a year across India.

“Value chain barriers”

There are also value chain barriers which include lack of suitable labour inputs and financing for bottom-of-the-pyramid (BoP) producers and customers, weak sourcing channels and weak distribution channels involving BoP producers and customers, and weak linkages and support service providers.

Corporations with experience have become adept at finding creative ways around barriers in the value chain. Consider Unilever’s Project Shakti, which enables rural women to become entrepreneurs by distributing goods to hard-to-access rural communities.

Over 70,000 Shakti Entrepreneurs distribute Unilever’s products in more than 165,000 villages, reaching over 4m rural households. At the other end of the value chain, Coca-Cola’s Source Africa initiative facilitates sustainable and financially viable supply chains for key Coca-Cola agricultural ingredients, e.g. mango production in Kenya and Malawi and citrus and pineapple production in Nigeria.

In another sector, when Saint-Gobain builds a plant in a new country, it trains the local workforce in collaboration with YouthBuild. The latter trains disadvantaged youths in professional skills, while Saint-Gobain adds training in construction science.

“Public goods barriers”

Then, there are the public goods barriers: Lack of hard infrastructure; lack of awareness of market-based solutions; lack of information, industry knowhow and standards.

Olam offers a good illustration of a company’s deep involvement in a nation’s hard infrastructure. Olam jointly owns Owendo, a port in Gabon and is a key partner in the country’s special economic zone. On the “soft” public goods front, Janssen, a unit of J&J, works with multiple stakeholders to increase access to medicines and has formed the Janssen Neglected Disease Task Force to advocate for legislation to support new research into treatments for neglected diseases. It also coordinates a consortium to support HIV patients and their caretakers in managing the disease.

Fourth and finally, there are the government barriers: inhibitory laws, regulations and procedures; inhibitory taxes and subsidies; adverse interventions by politicians or officials.

MasterCard and its growing collaboration with the Association for Financial Inclusion to educate public officials about issues relevant to financial inclusion. This includes technical capacity building, developing national-level public-private engagement strategies, research and best practices to inform policymaking and exposing officials to innovative products, business models and approaches.

Combining global reach with entrepreneurial creativity

Perhaps the best mechanism for bringing gorilla and guerilla together is through a corporate venture or impact investing fund. Consider Unilever Ventures as an example. It has invested in a range of enterprises, including ones that focus on water management as part of its “sustainable living” portfolio, e.g. Recyclebank, a social platform that creates incentives for people to take environmentally responsible actions, WaterSmart, that develops tools for water utilities to help customers save water and money or Aquasana, Voltea and Rayne Water that develop water purification, desalination and filtration technologies.

Gorillas have the global reach and scale but they need the proximity to the problem, local knowledge and the entrepreneurial creativity of the guerillas. Zennström’s call-to-action requires guerillas and gorillas to dance. It is, no doubt, an awkward coupling; but it can – and must – happen for guerilla entrepreneurs to have gorilla impact on the world’s hardest problems.

Engines of the Future: How Tiny Bacteria Could Power Your Smartphone

A team of scientists has discovered that bacteria could power micromachines such as smartphones by harnessing energy from its movement. (Photo : Flickr/Creative Commons/NIAID)

Thanks;Monica Antonio 

Jul 12, 2016 07:15 AM EDT

Can you imagine your phone being solely powered by microscopic bacteria?A team of scientists from Oxford University has devised a way to harness energy from the natural movement of bacteria, which, they say, could power man-made micromachines.

According to the study published in the journal Science, these bacteria powerplants have a big potential to power various micromachines.

To test their theory, the team created computer simulations that showed how the movement of dense active matter, like swarms of bacteria, could be arranged in a cylindrical form to produce energy. The researchers noted that it is important that these bacteria are dense enough in order for them to be organised for power extraction, Science Daily reports.

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Dr. Tyler Shendruk, co-author of the study, said harvesting power from biological systems has a lot of great potential. It does not need any pre-designing in order to function, as the swarm of bacteria could assemble itself into a form of a windfarm without any human help.

The swarm of bacteria not only self-assemble, but can also spin in the opposite direction, just like what a windfarm does.

“When we did the simulation with a single rotor in the bacterial turbulence, it just got kicked around randomly. But when we put an array of rotors in the living fluid, they suddenly formed a regular pattern, with neighbouring rotors spinning in opposite directions,” Shendruk said.

TechRadar notes that even though the amount of power produced by bacteria is limited, it still opens the doors for more study of its use in sensors and microscopic robots.

Also, the new discovery is a costless and effortless way to harness energy–there’s no need for mechanical work as the bacteria reassemble themselves to continually generate power.

“Nature is brilliant at creating tiny engines, and there is enormous potential if we can understand how to exploit similar designs,” said Julia Yeomans, senior author of the study.

http://youtu.be/sY4JQBMZ6gQ