clean energy

Once a resource-constrained country, Singapore invests in sustainable and efficient technology to cater for its energy needs

Solar panels used to power walkway lights

Singapore has faced many challenges in the last two decades, most notably in the energy sector. With limited renewable energy options, the island still relies heavily on imports. Typically, according to the National Climate Change Secretariat (NCCA), the average wind speed is not powerful enough to activate wind turbines, while calm seas limit tidal power generation. Not to mention that the country doesn’t have a river system with fast flowing water which makes hydroelectric power a rather impossible investment option, and nuclear plants are not safe due to the limited land area and population density.

Nevertheless, Singapore has committed to becoming a benchmark in green energy and to profit from one resource the island has abundantly: solar energy. Earlier this year, the NCCA announced that the country aims to increase solar deployment from 47MWp to 350 MWp by 2020. The goal is that renewable energy would represent 8% of all the power demand. In order to do so, the country is investing heavily in research and development, as well as in creating an attractive ecosystem for cleantechs.

One of the projects developed by the government is to install solar panels on rooftops of high-rise public buildings, as well as on water surfaces. The latter, pointed as a bold and innovative pilot program, has reached so many good results that it was recently extended to the ocean. Popularly known as ‘energy islands’, the structure will supply energy to industrial and residential areas. Yet, as the geographical limitation makes it harder for the country to expand indefinitely its solar power plants, the government has decided to invest in efficiency.

The University of Singapore is thus working on solar cells that convert more sunlight into energy, and is, to that end, is making them cheaper to be integrated into buildings. The cost of solar energy has also been reduced in the last decade, making it more competitive.

Last year, the government announced that six clean energy investments across the fields of solar, wind, microgrids and energy management will help position the country as Asia’s leading cleantech hub. Currently, more 100 than clean energy companies are part of this ecosystem and helping to attract research funds, as well as an elite team of researchers. The university has already 110 PhD students, half of whom have graduated and are working in the solar energy industry.

As the authorities have secured the funding and support for these projects, the future for clean energy in Singapore seems bright!

Singapore is the host city for the Social Innovation and Global Ethics Forum (SIGEF), organized by Horyou, the social network for social good. The event will be held in September 2018.

Have you ever heard of ‘smart cities’? It’s a contemporary expression that designates good, effective urban planning which uses technology and creativity to solve perennial urban problems such as air pollution, traffic control and energy consumption. Forget flying cars – although they could play a role in future cities – and think about planning, data analysis and efficient use of resources.

Photo: UNDP

We are now almost 4 billion people living in cities, more than half the global population. And urbanization keeps growing – 1 billion more will move to or be born in cities in the next 12 years. It’s a logical trend. If living in cities would mean more access to jobs, healthcare services and quality education, then it would be a reasonable outcome that millions of people would prefer to live in urban areas. Yet, it’s not always the case. Many cities still provide poor public services and infrastructure and thus have to face such challenges as the proliferation of slums, or air pollution, or again inequality and violence. How to address the challenge? Innovation and sustainability are the key words to make the SDG 11 a reality.

The good news is that in 2017, 149 countries have been developing national-level urban planning programs, many of which are using available and inexpensive technologies. In the last 17 years, some things did change for the better. The proportion of urban population living in developing country slums fell from 39% in 2000 to 30% in 2014. More cities are supporting healthier lifestyles, calling people to use cleaner means of transportation. Others are implementing incentives to reuse and recycling waste, as well as running water saving campaigns. Still, management of waste and air pollution, for instance, are below World Health Organization acceptable levels.

Universities, governments and international organizations are working together to come up with ideas that tackle the many issues urbanization imposes. There is no panacea, as each community faces its own specific challenges and, ideally, the best solutions have to be worked out internally, best in cities that are hubs of innovation and diversity.

Horyou community is passionate about Smart Cities. Both SIGEF 2016 in Marrakesh and SIGEF 2017 in Astana panels covered extensively the topic and helped trigger important discussions about the future of transportation, energy and sustainable construction. SIGEF 2018, due to take place in Singapore, will, in turn, bring together experts, government officials and organizations to propose sustainable solutions and replicable ideas that are liable to make our cities better places to live. It’s Horyou’s commitment to a society that we aspire to build together!

If you want to be part of SIGEF 2018, read more about the #HoryouLightChallenge. You can choose the SDG11 or any other, promote your post on social media and win an all-inclusive trip to SIGEF in Singapore, in September 2018!

Fostering new ideas and processes through innovation and entrepreneurship for good

SDG 9

Imagine a world with clean air, renewable and endless sources of water and a no speculation financial system! Far from being the child of a utopian mind, the idea of living in such a world is possible thanks to innovation. In all countries, entrepreneurs are relying on technology to propose new solutions to the problems of our society and make a difference.

The UN Sustainable Development Goal number 9 is about building resilient infrastructure, promoting inclusive and sustainable industrialization and fostering innovation. This is one of the most successful goals, as may improvements have been so far achieved worldwide. The SDG 9 also touches on many other goals, as it generates jobs, helps to combat hunger and poverty and furthers equality. Innovative industries’ impact on carbon emissions is minimal, as they tend to be cleaner.

According to the UNDP, carbon emissions of countries that have moved towards more efficient and clean industries have significantly decreased: in Europe and North America alone the 10 largest manufacturing countries have thus reduced their emissions by 36%. The greatest challenge, however, lies in weighing improvement, knowing that developing countries evolve at a slower pace than the richest ones. Still, investment in clean industrialization and innovation has increased worldwide, with more money going to research and development, transport, economic infrastructure and energy.

Horyou has constantly been supporting innovation and eco-efficient industries. During the 2017 edition of SIGEF, in Astana, Kazakhstan, its agenda covered industrial innovation on Future Energy and Cities of Tomorrow, showcasing many ventures and projects with a high potential of changing the world in a positive way. So has SIGEF 2016, in Marrakesh, Morocco, which covered extensively the topic of how transportation, water, energy and financial industries are innovating in sustainable and inclusive ways, and where a number of entrepreneurs were invited to present their projects as part of the SIGEF Awards, a social innovation-oriented set-up that showcases and awards the most relevant innovative ideas in social good. Two winning projects were about building a cleaner environment using simple and ground-breaking energy.

If you wish to support this SDG, you can do so through Horyou. Go to Horyou platform and choose an NGO or project that helps promote sustainable industries and innovation in your region or anywhere in the world. Your support can be made easier and more effective with Spotlight, our digital currency for impact. Check it out and start using it to engage in any cause you feel concerned about. Be the change, be Horyou!

The UN Sustainable Development Goal number 7 aims to provide clean, affordable and reliable energy for all, to further inclusion, opportunity and empowerment.

Photo: UNDP India

Almost 200 years after the invention of the first electric motor, there still are 1 billion people with no access to electricity. Half of them are in sub-Saharan countries, most in urban areas. It’s ironic that Africa, a region so rich in natural resources, always mentioned as the future test site for clean energy, still has a considerable part of its population in the dark.

It is both a wonderful opportunity and a threat – without clean and affordable energy, our future is at risk. How many innovators are losing the opportunity to put their ideas into practice? For how many more years are we to keep burning fossil fuels to provide our populations with energy? For how long will we continue to consume power without even thinking about its sources or effects on the environment?

According to the last UNDP account and despite all international agreements, the renewable share in final energy consumption has grown modestly from 2012 to 2014 from 17,9% to 18,3%, most of it from water, solar and wind-generated power. In the most developed and largest energy-consuming countries, however, an effort has been made – especially by reducing power consumption through greater efficiency in industry. The challenge is to increase this share even more, especially in sectors like heat and transport which account for 80% of global energy consumption.

Progress still falls short, but there are many remarkable initiatives in large and small scale that give hope and inspiration. One of the active organizations on our Horyou platform, Geres, Group for the Environment, Renewable Energy and Solidarity, is a French NGO that works with innovative and sustainable development projects around Europe-Mediterranean, West Africa, South-East Asia and Central Asia. From building electrified zones in Mali through to developing bioclimatic solutions in houses and farms in the Indian Himalayas, Geres has empowered communities for more than 40 years.

Other initiatives were presented during SIGEF 2016 in Marrakesh – one of the SIGEF Awards runner-ups was Pocket Rocket, a company focused on energy saving. Its products and services help to reduce the percentage of CO2 released in the air. Another one is Can Heat, a project which facilitates the manufacturing of solar water heater panels through the reuse of waste materials.

If you wish to support this SDG, you can do so through Horyou. Go to Horyou platform and choose an NGO or project that helps promote clean and affordable energy in your region or anywhere in the world. Your support can be made easier and more effective with Spotlight, our digital currency for impact. Check it out and start using it to engage in any cause you feel concerned about. Be the change, be Horyou!

Barcelona is hosting its 8th annual Corporate Social Responsibility Week, an event which connects the public sector to companies and non-profit organizations to discuss the recent developments in CSR. Horyou team has visited the venue and reports on some success stories.

8th CSR Week Barcelona took place from 14th to 18th November

What can a food bank do about global warming? Why should a healthcare and beauty products industry career coach unemployed women? Those are merely signs that CSR is pushing companies to go beyond their backyard. We all find profit in a better world.

The 8th edition of the annual CSR Week in Barcelona was an indication that many companies are trying to run the extra mile through their environmental and social actions. On a panel titled «Conferencias Soc-Eco-Amb», held on Tuesday, four organizations from very diverse industries showcased their actions.

Miguel Ángel Trabado, Henkel Beauty and Healthcare regional head of Professional Partnership Services (PPS), shared the «Fundación Quiero Trabajo» experience inaugurated this year. The project provides hairdressing, clothing, styling and professional coaching to unemployed women, helping them to recover from a job loss and restore their self-confidence. So far, 53 women have received assessment and advice, and 71% have found a new job. «It’s important to notice that most of the work is done by volunteers, and the great majority are women as well», he said. It is a global project that has produced remarkable results in Spain, with a high rate of successful job placements.

Speaking for Metro de Madrid on its recently launched CSR Policy, in line with the 11th and 13th UN Sustainable Development Goals on Sustainable Cities and Climate Action respectively, Monica Mariscal insisted on the company’s commitment to invest in innovation and technology in order to deliver the best user travel experience. Metro de Madrid is thus reusing 80% of its consumed water and, in 2017, it will reduce by 25% its energy consumption. Insisting on the responsibility to cater for the vast diversity of its users, she disclosed that «From a social perspective, the company has a commitment to diversity, and is building accessible stations and training both employees and people with disability to better use the metro». The goal is to have 73% of all stations accessible to people with disability by 2030.

Ana Gonzales talks about the CSR and Environment projects in Caprabo

As for the national supermarket chain Caprabo and its microdonations program, it is striving to reduce food waste, as well as to support people in need. Hence, the company donate small quantities of its unsold products – a pack of eggs in which just one is broken, for instance -, to non-profit organizations or food banks. This sounds simple but it requires some logistics in relation to food preservation and employee training to send out only items that are safe for consumption. According to Ana Gonzales, in charge of CSR and Environment for Caprabo, «The program is a success as it helps to feed 788 families per year. It also reduces food waste by more than 2,000 tons».

Caprabo micro donations go to organizations like Banc dels Aliments de Barcelona, a food bank that provides 18,000 tons of food to 137,000 people in Catalonia. In addition to putting meals on needy families tables, the organization has recently signed an agreement with the public sector by which it is working on reducing CO2 emissions. According to Joan Bosch, Economic Resources Coordinator, it is an extra challenge they are happy to take. «We have changed all our lamps to LED and are looking forward to reducing our emissions by more than 2,300 tons of CO2 in 2017», he stated. It is all done thanks to volunteering work and donations, and we aim higher each year. «Poverty is more intense and chronic than ever. We cover only 27% of families in need, and we expect to improve this number and the quality of what people are eating», he added. It will be done, of course, with lower emissions and the tireless commitment to building a better society.

The latest Green Transition Scoreboard® (GTS) found that private green investments now total more than $8.1 trillion USD ($8,133,456,730,370).

Published annually since 2009 by Ethical Markets, the GTS is a global measure of private green investment in five green sectors: 1) Renewable Energy, 2) Efficiency, 3) Life Systems (water, waste, recycling, community investing, e-learning and fintech), 4) Green Construction, and 5) Green Corporate R&D. Government investments have been omitted wherever possible and technological criteria are strictly applied.

Sector Amount US $


Renewable Energy – $3,427,534,992,202

Energy Efficiency – $1,748,904,490,919

Life Systems – $1,660,880,346,366

Green Construction – $914,736,379,757

Corporate Green R&D – $381,400,521,125

Grand Total – $8,133,456,730,370***

The aggregated total is tracked by Ethical Markets Media Certified B Corporation’s team of experts and global advisory board, led by CEO Dr. Hazel Henderson, futurist/author and former US government science policy advisor.

Henderson said “The green economy is growing faster than anyone realizes. We knew that this good news on the progress of the global green transition couldn’t be fully covered by mainstream financial media and news programs whose advertising is still from fossilized sectors.”

GTS co-author Tim Nash, The Sustainable Economist, adds “Although the USA is expected to fall behind due to federal policies that put obsolete industries like coal ahead of thriving green sectors, large corporations are stepping up to invest billions in more efficient technologies.”

The full 2017 GTS report titled “Deepening Green Finance” can be downloaded free here: 2017 Green Transition Scoreboard Cities and states worldwide are now leading, energized by former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg and many others. The UNEP Inquiry on Design of a Sustainable Financial System is successfully engaging conventional financial markets. Co-director Dr. Simon Zadek welcomed the release of the GTS report, “With a changed political landscape, the case for green finance has to be strengthened, so your work is very important and has to be widely used”.

The GTS report traces private money shifting from incumbent fossilized sectors to emerging green opportunities. Financial firms are being forced to innovate as pressure grows from all sides.

Activist ethical investors and divestment campaigns are getting louder. New pressure from above is driven by the National Development Commitments (NDCs) signed by 194 governments under the UN COP 21 and 22 climate accords and Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Pressure is also coming from below with the rise of Silicon Valley’s Fintech100, including crowdfunding, peer-to-peer lending, and reward currencies.

Horyou is the Social Network for Social Good, which connects, supports and promotes social initiatives, entrepreneurs, and citizens who help the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals to build a more harmonious and inclusive world. Horyou is also the host of SIGEF, the Social Innovation and Global Ethics Forum, taking place in Astana, Kazakhstan during the EXPO 2017, from 5-7 September. We invite you to Be the Change, Be Horyou!

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