The Relevance of SIGEF Davos

SIGEF Davos 2019

What do disruptive technologies, inclusive finance, women empowerment and the UN Sustainable Development Goals have in common? SIGEF, the Social Innovation and Global Ethics Forum, set up for the first time in Davos on January 22nd, 2020, brought stimulating insights into the common threads that run through all four topics.

The shared sentiment was/is that an inclusive world can definitely be shaped with the joint effort of all stakeholders from both the public and private sectors. With it, gender equality and wide access to new technologies would be bolstered; financial means and business opportunities would be open to all; and many an environmental and social challenge would be overcome.

More and more, we see a large number of major global corporations, including some emblematic companies like Philip Morris International and Nespresso, both of whom were among SIGEF Davos sponsors, are determinedly headed in that direction. Through strengthened ties within vulnerable communities or via investing in the provision of more sustainable products, they have realized how important it is to embrace the challenges of our times. Startups and fintech organizations including Fintech4Good, as well as NGOs led by WWF and Women Deliver, or media such as Devex and CBS, or again international agencies the likes of Geneva Chamber of Commerce and OECD, are walking the walk, and showing that, undoubtedly, an increased level of social and environmental commitment does help come to terms with inequality.

A few years ago, it would have been unimaginable that the finance and business worlds would seriously get to grips with social inclusion, or deal with environmental issues, or again bolster community empowerment or, even more unpredictably, use disruptive technologies for good. As Yonathan Parienti, founder and CEO of Horyou, the social network for social good, puts it: “Capitalism is changing, and it is becoming more inclusive and more aware of society’s needs”.

That is the relevance and legacy of SIGEF Davos.

How an EU directive – together with the will of consumers – is leading companies to change sourcing and manufacturing strategies

Plastic pollution in the ocean

How to live without plastic? The material has been increasingly present in our daily lives for many decades: according to the European Commission, its global production has increased twentyfold since the 1960’s. At the same time, it has become a vital material in our economy as it causes serious impacts in the environment, from its origin to its end of life.

Launched in 2018, the European Strategy for Plastics in a Circular Economy is an ambitious document that aims to transform the way businesses and consumers use this resource. The lifecycle of the products that use plastic in their manufacturing is a big concern – from design to disposal, companies should be aware of the impact they cause on the environment. It means that more businesses and consumers are looking for more sustainable options, like recyclable plastic, refillable or reusable options and post-consumption traceability.

The document sets bold targets for Europe by 2030. The 10-single use plastic products that today constitute 70% of marine litter are in the spotlight and should be banned by then. Also, all plastic packaging placed on the EU markets should be either reusable or recyclable in a cost-effective manner.
Following the directive, manufacturers of plastic have joined in a big movement lead by PlasticsEurope, a Pan-European association that aims to change the face of this not very well reputed industry. In this spirit, they designed the ‘Plastics 2030 – Voluntary Commitment’, focusing on increasing the reuse and recycling of plastic, and preventing plastic leakage into the environment, as well as accelerating resource efficiency. It will lead to a 60% rate of reusing and recycling plastic packaging by 2030, and a 100% rate in 2040.

In this scenario, new materials are gaining popularity among consumers – ocean waste plastic, post-consumer recycling and bio-based plastic made from coffee beans, sugar cane and other non-carbon sources, are rising as alternatives to traditional plastic.

Global players like Unilever – that will cut by half their use of virgin plastic by 2025 – and sustainable trendsetters like Lush – that started launching free-packaging stores earlier this year – are committing to the strategy to offer more eco-conscious alternatives to consumers.

Lead by consumers’ demand, governments’ commitments and businesses’ efforts, sustainable innovation is rising as an alternative to the “plastic problem”.

A global claim has been echoing for many years: since 2000, when the UN launched the Millennium Development Goals, the world hasn’t seen such public debate about the need to commit to social and environmental targets. As the years have passed and global leaders have complied with the reviewed and renamed Sustainable Development Goals, society started to be bolder about expanding the commitment to a better future.

In the last few years, more companies have been vocal about their own actions thanks to an increased responsiveness of their stakeholders: investors, clients and civil society who demand more engaged action for the SDGs.

Clients and consumers are the first group to put pressure on the private sector, carefully choosing ecofriendly products and brands. Last September, 87 companies, including Danone, Amazon and IKEA, committed to set climate targets across their operations and value chains, setting zero net emissions by 2050. A recent Accenture survey shows that 80% of consumers believe it’s important or extremely important for companies to design environmentally conscious products. It affects the whole supply chain: from lighter and smaller packaging that will require less material to components that are recyclable and reusable.

Jobseekers are another important group that influences companies’ commitment to sustainable actions. MBA graduates are now able to see if corporate social responsibility strategies are legitimate or pure PR – and choose companies they want to work for accordingly. A 2015 survey covering more than 3,700 MBA graduates shows that 64% of them don’t think businesses are making enough efforts to address environmental challenges. Recruiters are getting used to questions about these CSR policies and are feeling the need to develop their employer’s branding, the capacity to attract talented people, investing in real sustainable actions.

Finally, there is the deciding factor for many businesses: money. Asset managers are increasingly taking sustainability into consideration when shaping their investment strategies, according to a recently published article in the Financial Times. Some of them, like Hermes, are launching SDG Equity Funds focused on small and medium-sized companies engaged with the UN Goals. Others, like the Scandinavian investment group Summa, are focusing on some sustainable development areas like infrastructure and innovation (goal 9). These initiatives follow the launch of UN Impact, a program that aims to channel funds to SDG-related projects and companies.

Other funding opportunities like HoryouToken, the utility token 100% dedicated to inclusion and sustainability, are also spotting projects and actions that resonate with the UN SDGs. Built on the concept of Blockchain with a purpose, HoryouToken supports and promotes social and economic inclusion while enhancing a positive circle of interactions benefiting civil society, social entrepreneurs and social good doers.

To know more about HoryouToken, click here.

Technology has been central to development throughout the course of human history. The rapid growth of information and communication technologies (ICTs) across the world proves this fundamental connection on an unprecedented scale – and with revolutionary impact.


Today, it could be said that all development is linked to digital development: from education to transportation, urban planning, sanitation, health, manufacturing, industry and, of course, communication, there is no industrial sector today that does not rely on ICTs as the essential backbone infrastructure providing access to services – and the associated benefits of social and economic development.

At the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), the specialized United Nations agency for ICTs, one of the priorities is to ensure that those benefits are made available to all of the world’s population, not just a limited few. ITU is committed to connecting all the world’s people, wherever they live and whatever their means. And connectivity, and the ICT services, products and solutions it enables, is essential to meeting every one of the UN’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals.

But how can we accelerate universal connectivity and the development it brings when nearly half of the people in the world remain offline?

The ICT sector is working with us towards an ambitious long-term goal of connecting the next 1.5 billion citizens by 2020. This will require not only enormous investment in networks and other infrastructure, but also – crucially – significant political commitment.

Infrastructure alone, however, is not enough. According to ITU, around 90% of the world’s population is covered by at least 2G or 3G services – yet adoption remains at barely 51%. So for connectivity to be meaningful, to actually reach people and change lives, affordable, fit-for-purpose services and equipment are needed, as well as local content in local languages, relevant to local context. And programmes to raise awareness of the benefits of connectivity, as well as to teach the digital skills essential to taking full advantage of this potential.

Digital literacy is just as important for meaningful connectivity as cheap handsets or 3G networks in rural and remote areas. Innovation and inclusivity are as vital as infrastructure and investment.

It’s clear that neither public nor private sector can go it alone. The task of connecting the whole world is as enormous as the developmental benefits it will bring. The leadership, resources and skills required are as great as the impact it will have. Government must work closely with the private sector, with all stakeholders throughout the digital ecosystem, with NGOs and international organizations, with civic society, communities, academia and media.

Public private partnerships, in whatever form, are the key to driving meaningful connectivity and bringing the world online. This is where ITU’s leading annual event, ITU Telecom World, has such an important role to play. By bringing together leaders from government, industry, regulatory bodies, international agencies, consultants and academia from developed and emerging markets alike, the event works towards meeting the SDGs through digital technology, focusing efforts on infrastructure, investment, innovation and inclusivity.

It features an international exhibition of tech solutions and projects, a world-class forum of interactive, expert-led debates, an Awards Programme, and a networking programme connecting organizations, nations, individuals and ideas.

The ITU Telecom World Awards Programme, in particular, is an opportunity to encounter, engage with and celebrate the best in innovative tech solutions with very real social impact.

The international visibility, UN credibility and access to networking, investment potential and partnerships offered by the Awards has proved highly valuable since the programme’s introduction in 2015 – and is an excellent stage for precisely those public-private collaborations so essential to growing connectivity.

Additionally, the event provides a powerful stage for exhibiting the projects, technologies and ideas that are driving development at local, national and international levels on the showfloor, as well as attending the Forum debates on “Innovating together: connectivity that matters” to learn, network and share knowledge.

Held this year in HungExpo, Budapest, Hungary, from 9 – 12 September, ITU Telecom World 2019 is only one small step towards connecting the world. Every step counts, however, on the journey to accelerate development throughout the world through technology. And together, we can make those steps larger, longer and more effective.

Horyou is a media partner of ITU Telecom World 2019

Por Pedro Meduna*

Night traffic lights in Tokyo

(English version below)

A mobilidade urbana tem se transformado de forma acelerada e significativa em todo o mundo. As atuais demandas, tendências e exigências dos usuários têm impulsionado o surgimento de novas soluções tecnológicas em um mercado cada vez mais dinâmico e competitivo. Somado à velocidade desse ecossistema, temos o desafio da mobilidade urbana sustentável, que exige a adoção de novos modelos, capazes de trazer soluções para urbanização contemporânea e para o aumento da frota de veículos nas cidades, aliando isso à ações sustentáveis.

Em grandes centros como São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro ou qualquer outra metrópole mundial, o trânsito gerado pelo alto número de veículos individuais dificulta a locomoção das pessoas, afeta o meio ambiente e compromete a qualidade de vida pelas condições estressantes dos engarrafamentos, concentrados, principalmente, nas regiões de maior densidade populacional. A grande missão das empresas de mobilidade é a de buscar alternativas reais e inovadoras, o que não significa apenas inventar novas tecnologias, mas também criar soluções inteligentes de deslocamento para um público que disputa espaço com outros passageiros nos transportes coletivos ou com outros carros nas ruas.

Hoje podemos perceber que a tecnologia vem mudando a maneira com que as pessoas consomem e que essa tendência irá transformar a cultura da mobilidade urbana. Influenciadas pela economia colaborativa – conceito de rede na qual as pessoas acessam a bens e serviços através do compartilhamento, ao invés da aquisição – já podemos notar um movimento no comportamento das pessoas que passaram a basear seus hábitos de consumo em escolhas inteligentes e sustentáveis, focados no coletivo. “Compartilhar a possuir”, essa é a megatendência global e secular.

Muitas pessoas, por exemplo, estão deixando de comprar carros particulares ou até mesmo vendendo os seus próprios para optarem por novas formas de deslocamento. No entanto, trocar o veículo individual pelo transporte compartilhado ou optar por formas de locomoção mais sustentáveis é ainda uma atitude que exige mais do que boa vontade e trazer o diferencial em uma sociedade que há décadas valoriza o carro como principal meio de transporte se torna a chave para esse processo de transformação.

A mobilidade como serviço ou Mobility as a Service (Maas), caracterizada pela oferta de transporte personalizado, integrando os mais diversos modais em uma mesma plataforma com o objetivo de ampliar as alternativas de deslocamento das pessoas é, sem dúvida, o caminho para a construção da mobilidade urbana mais sustentável e harmoniosa nas grandes cidades. O centro crucial dessa solução está em buscar a “viagem mais eficiente”, considerando toda jornada do passageiro, desde da saída de casa até o seu destino final, com segurança, pontualidade, rapidez e economia.

Transformar as cidades em um melhor lugar para viver deve ser o principal propósito de uma empresa do setor de mobilidade. Para atingir este objetivo, é extremamente importante uma estreita colaboração entre os mais diversos operadores do setor e o poder público, buscando, não somente as novas tecnologias, mas também inovação, criação de valor e a transformação desse serviço, com a disponibilização de um sistema inteligente e conectado, capaz de interligar as cidades.

Assim, mais do que dar opções – desde táxi aéreos, passando por carros compartilhados “peer to peer” e táxis e chegando até a opções de micromobilidade, como os patinetes ou as bicicletas, chamados de “última milha”, aquela última pernada em áreas com alta densidade de trânsito – será possível sugerir qual o meio de transporte mais eficiente para o usuário, de acordo com a sua necessidade naquele momento específico. Ser capaz de processar diferentes dados e informações para lhe oferecer essa informação na interface de um aplicativo é, realmente, entregar o que chamamos hoje de mobilidade como serviço. Esse é o futuro que precisamos construir hoje.

*Pedro Meduna é Country Manager da Cabify Brasil


Make cities better places to live in
By Pedro Meduna *

Urban mobility has been rapidly and significantly changing around the world. Current user demands have driven the emergence of new technology solutions in an increasingly dynamic and competitive market. In addition to the speed of this ecosystem, we have the challenge of sustainable urban mobility, which requires the adoption of new models, capable of bringing solutions for contemporary urbanization and the increase of the vehicle fleet in cities, combined with sustainable actions.

In large cities such as São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro or any other global metropolis, the traffic generated by the high number of individual vehicles makes it difficult for people to move around, affects the environment and compromises the quality of life due to the stressful conditions of traffic jams, mainly concentrated in the most densely populated regions. Mobility companies’ great mission is to look for real and innovative alternatives, which not only means inventing new technologies but also creating intelligent travel solutions for a public that fights for space with other commuters or other cars on the street.

Today we can see that technology is changing the way people consume and that this trend will transform the culture of urban mobility. Influenced by the collaborative economy – the concept of networking in which people access goods and services through sharing rather than acquisition – we can already see a movement in the behavior of people who have come to base their spending habits on smart, sustainable, focused choices.

Many people are no longer buying private cars or even selling their own to opt for new forms of travel. However, exchanging the individual vehicle for shared transport or opting for more sustainable forms of transportation is still an attitude that requires more than goodwill and is disruptive in a society that for decades has valued ​​the car as the main means of transport becomes the key.

Mobility as a Service (Maas) is characterized by personalized transport, integrating the most diverse modes in one platform with the objective of expanding the alternatives of people displacement. It is undoubtedly the path to sustainable and harmonious urban mobility in large cities. This solution lies in pursuing the “most efficient journey,” taking into account every passenger journey from home to their final destination, safely, on time, quickly and economically.

Making cities better places to live must be the primary purpose of a mobility business. To achieve this goal, close collaboration between diverse operators in the sector and the government is extremely important, seeking not only new technologies but also innovation, value creation and the transformation of this service, with the provision of a system smart and connected, able to connect cities.

So more than giving options – from air charter to peer to peer shared cars and taxis, to micro-mobility options like scooters or bikes – it will be possible to suggest the most efficient means of transportation for the user, according to their needs at that specific time. Being able to process different data and information to offer it in an application interface is really delivering what we now call mobility as a service. This is the future we need to build today.

* Pedro Meduna is Country Manager of Cabify Brasil

The minimalistic Japanese philosophy resonates with sustainable consumption

Sustainable fashion brands are booming in Japan

In Japan, there’s an ancient term repeated by grandma’s for generations: “Mottainai”, which means “too good to waste”. While its origins lie on Buddhist traditions, the Mottainai philosophy relates to many aspects of Japanese culture: it carries the message that every object has an inherent value and that should be taken care of until the end of its lifespam. It resonates with the culture of respect and care that is cherished by Japanese tradition, but it also answers to the demands of our modern society for a more sustainable economy.

While there’s a global outcry for more ethical and environmental-friendly practices in fashion, beauty and leisure, the concept of fast and disposable goods has become obsolete. In this context, many sustainable start-up brands have come to light to show there’s a way to be socially and environmentally responsible while making profits – a trend that has inspired even giant chains.

This trend is represented by pioneer brands like People Tree, which has started to work with sustainable fashion more than 25 years ago, sourcing from local producers, garment workers and artisans in developing countries to produce ethical and eco-conscious clothing, and also by modern businesses likemStudio Membrane, which uses biodegradable fabrics to create clothing that resemble art.

MUJI store in Canada

Even cosmetics and beauty brands that are known for using ancient and natural ingredients have become valued and demanded, and not only by Asian consumers. European and American clients are increasingly interested in their sustainable packaging and organic formulas. 

It all helped Japanese brands to conquer Western markets, eager for products that are both innovative and eco-friendly. As of 2017, Japanese fashion chain Muji created its first sustainable collections, which use organic cotton and other sustainable materials. Since then, Muji has grown exponentially in Europe and has now more than 57 stores in the continent. Another Japanese fashion brand, Uniqlo has expanded in Europe by promoting its minimalistic, sustainable style, which includes recycling initiatives, reducing plastics and promoting ethical work.

Although these brands are seen as “trendy” and modern, many of them have worked under the traditional Mottainai philosophy. For generations, children are taught to not being wasteful and to respect the environment. One of the latest Netflix phenomena, the Japanese personal organizer Marie Kondo, is known for her minimalistic approach of things, which goes in the opposite direction of mindless consumerism.

As fast-fashion becomes an obsolete concept, the 3R motto (reduce, reuse, recycle) is starting to make sense for more consumers – or, as Mottainai grandma used to say in Japanese children’s books: “don’t waste!”.

Want to know more about Japan, the host country of SIGEF 2019? Follow our posts on Horyou blog.

SIGEF 2019 will take place in Tokyo on 18-19 September

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The Relevance of SIGEF Davos What do disruptive technologies, inclusive finance, women empowerment and the UN Sustainable Development Goals have in common? SIGEF, the Social...