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Impressions From 8 Parts of The World on Sustainability Opportunities

By Morten Jastrup, Project Director Monday Morning Global Institute

In the period 27th August to 9th September we conducted eight workshops on five continents.

Opportunity Panels were conducted in Johannesburg, San Francisco, Mumbai, Sao Paulo, Shanghai, Oslo, London and Abu Dhabi. Each of the workshops were presented with the same material: the five great challenges of Urban Breakdown, Lack of Freshwater, Continued Lock-in to Fossil Fuels, Rising number of NonCommunicable Diseases (NCDs) and Extreme Weather.

The resulting discussions pointed to very different avenues of action to handle these challenges wisely. However we feel that each of the workshops had some distinct points that set them apart from the others.

Johannesburg
• Strong focus on awareness building esp. in NCDs.
• Focus on decentralized technology: mobile phones, decentralized renewable power.
• Carbon tax scheme to fund renewables reflect current political discussion.
• Examples of systems approach – water, urbanization.
• Focus on communities/bottom up change combined with general challenge in building trust both within communities and trust in government.

San Francisco
• Focus on setting the right price – for example on carbon and water to influence behaviour.
• Sharing of knowledge and best practices seen as a potent tool for both business and city governments (e.g. in extreme weather, urban breakdown, fossil fuels).
• Better measurement and awareness of consumption on personal level seen as a tool to empower individuals to make sustainable choices.

Mumbai
• A strong focus across risks on international and government involvement/ grand schemes.
• Technology and management seen as strong enablers.
• Proposed responses to water scarcity and urban breakdown risks focus mostly on initiatives in rural areas/smaller cities.
• In NCDs there was a strong – and unique – focus on occupational health.
• Proper pricing occurs as theme across several risks: extreme weather (monetizing nature), fossil fuels (include externalities in pricing of fossil fuels), water (pricing as part of better water management).

Sao Paulo
• Focus on setting the right price on resource (e.g. by water and fossil fuel taxation).
• Strong belief in bio based products to decrease dependency on fossil fuels (and as a tool to address extreme weather).
• Increases PPPs (Public Private Partnerships) – seen as tool to build resilient infrastructure, clusters of regional development.
• Focus on smart grids as enabler of better transport, city and energy solutions (addressing fossil fuel & urban breakdown risks).

Shanghai
• In many discussions, the question of ethics, social responsibility and how to include this in a new mind-set was prominent.
• In NCDs same string of thought saw lack of common health standards as a great challenge.
• Technology plays prominent role both as development of needed technologies (like renewable energy storage) and greater deployment of existing technologies (e.g. in water conservation).
• Government involvement seen as important for many opportunities.

Oslo
• Behaviour change: incentivise in relation to fossil fuels (investment & behaviour), change agriculture, healthier lifestyles.
• Un-lock fund (fossil fuels) and other methods for creating the necessary funds for a transformation towards resiliency and sustainability.
• Technology to solve our problems – water, fossil fuels, urban breakdown, extreme weather (turn to asset).
• We need to change how we transport ourselves, either more efficient (fossil free) or reduce the need for transport.

London
• Incentives matter. Correct skewed incentives by removing tax breaks and subsidies, and create incentives to develop clean energy.
• Invest in new technologies such as micro grids and clean energy but also scaling of existing technologies.
• Policy and government have a large part to play. E.g. in new long term planning methods and new tax system to tax fat in food.
• Vested business interests will be large obstacles and there is a need to reduce influence of big companies and switch to long-term thinking.
• Improving diets and transportation have multiple benefits e.g. un-lock to fossil fuel, environment and health.
• Do not forget the demand-side as demand reduction mechanisms are key as they are easily implemented and with a quick response.

Abu Dhabi
• Focus mostly on technology and secondly regulation (often aided by data/tech).
• Urban breakdown should be addressed in rural areas by stemming the influx.
• Lifestyle in focus on NCDs (but brought about by regulation/planning)
• Focus on setting the right price

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