Future

Biodiversity is the ecosystem that has shaped the environment which allowed for human life to exist millions of years ago. Preserving this ecosystem is thus key issue to our survival, failing that, then this would pose a serious threat to human existence, as heralded by the extinction of a number of other living species.

Photo: UNDP

In Greek mythology, Flora and Fauna were goddesses who represented many aspects of ancient life. While Flora, goddess of spring, would be used as a symbol of youth and fertility, Fauna was mainly described as a strong female figure who could foresee the future. According to the elders, Fauna’s songs resonated the fate of humankind.

Which fate would Fauna be singing today? Come every spring, may we still see any future for youth and fertility? Living in a world where technology allows for men to conquer space in search for other viable ecosystems, deforestation and loss of biodiversity are still huge sources of concern on earth. SDG 15 is a call for the protection of life on land: not just animals but everything around us – trees, fungi, mountains, land and native populations.

According to UNDP, progress in preserving and sustainably using Earth’s terrestrial species and ecosystems is uneven. The good news is that more forests are being protected and many countries are putting policies and certifications in place to safeguard their ecosystems. But the effort made by governments and NGOs is not enough. Many key biodiversity areas are still under threat as they are not protected. Even when they are, the lack of inspection, added to corruption, make preservation more difficult. Land productivity has been declining since 1998, especially in South America and Africa, which aggravates desertification, security issues and land conflicts. The UN estimates that more than 1 billion people are currently endangered due to these problems.

The international community is committed to support and conserve biodiversity, either by signing agreements or by donating bilateral funds to biodiversity projects. Apart from that, NGOs are tirelessly working to raise awareness of the urgent ‘life on land’ cause.

Horyou is proud to host organizations such as ANDA, the first and largest animal news agency in Latin America. Based in Brazil, with more than 1.5 visitors a month, ANDA is an active voice on animal rights and shares news about scientific tests on animals and poaching, as well as the appalling conditions in farms, among other critical topics. They are trying hard to enforce SDG 15. Are you willing to do the same?

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 protect life on land in your region or anywhere in the world. You can also show your support by participating in #HoryouLightChallenge! Be the change, be Horyou!

The host city of SIGEF 2018 is a good example of technology used to improve citizens lives. In a series of articles, Horyou blog will showcase some of the many positive aspects of the city!

Singapore

In Singapore, a local app gives you personalized health statistics and tips to improve your habits, while another allows you to pay your parking ticket with your smartphone. These apps are all developed and proposed by the Singaporean government to improve the quality of life of its citizens.

Singapore is often pointed at as one of the smartest cities on the planet. Last year, its Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong emphasized the goal of becoming the world first smart city-state in the years to come. «We live in a time were cities are getting more and more prominence», says Manuel Tarin, chairman of the Smart City Business Institute.

How to develop a concerted, efficient strategy for a city of 5,6 million residents? It seems that the government has got the challenge right. Apart from the notorious effort of using big data to provide personalized services to the population, the city has also developed technologies that look like they were drawn from a sci-fi movie.

Take health, for instance. Singapore provides a service called TeleHealth, which allows elderly people to be monitored and rehabilitated online, without having to leave their houses. Any citizen can go to a website and access their private medical record and useful health information. When it comes to mobility, the city has a research lab to self-drive vehicles and plans to develop a real-time public transportation app, whereby people can choose routes according to their needs and get the most efficient transportation as quickly as possible.

Since 2014, when the Prime Minister launched the Smart Nation Initiative, Singapore has set dozens of landmarks, supported by stakeholders in the private sector, academia and civil society. Above all the innovation involved, the main goal of the city is to provide a better quality of life to its people, which is why technology is only a means, not the goal. As the Minister in charge of the Smart Nation initiative, Vivian Balakrishnan, said in a recent interview, that way no one will be left behind: «The real challenge is to commoditize the technology so that the new middle class can arise. Using and enjoying the fruits of this technology, that’s really what this challenge should be», she pointed.

Professor Steven MacGregor is a social innovator who has been teaching, researching and publishing about unorthodox topics such as personal sustainability and sustainable leadership. About a decade ago, he founded of The Leadership Academy of Barcelona of which he is the CEO, and for more than 15 years, he has been contending that companies should not only be money making machines. We are happy to feature Professor MacGregor as one of our Changemakers!

Part of the LAB team in Barcelona

When was the LAB founded?

The LAB was founded in 2007, when I was directing a research project on CSR and teaching on executive education programs at IESE Business School. The project was one of the first European funded efforts with a specific focus on CSR and innovation, while my teaching focused on the health and wellbeing of executives, which I viewed as personal sustainability. I felt my take on sustainability, as an aggregate of both these areas, was unique enough to take the plunge and start a company. The defining thought for me at the time was that sustainable companies couldn’t be built on people who weren’t sustainable themselves. Essentially, it’s about bringing a more human approach to business.

What does sustainable leadership stand for and why did The LAB start to develop projects and training in this area of expertise?

Most of what we’ve done in the past 10 years has been centered on the health, well-being and performance of people at work. We’ve had aspects including mindfulness, fitness, nutrition, and sleep coaching in our programs during that time. Of course, we need to manage and lead ourselves better before we can lead others. We train people to be inspiring, energetic and engaging leaders who get the best out of their people. I think that many have forgotten the simple fact that leadership is about others. Considering our basic human needs is an effective way of doing that.

Can you present some of societyLAB’s current projects?

Most of our engagements tend to come in the healthLAB and designLAB. Societal issues are integrated within these projects, for example in areas such as talent management, client experience and workspace design; but scaling up societyLAB is a big objective this year. Our idea is to focus on the area of societal wellbeing. One specific idea that we’re pursuing is using behaviour change tools to nudge peoples’ behaviour in areas such as alcohol consumption.

Steven MacGregor

What are your goals for 2018?

Using more sophisticated behaviour change tools is something we’ve been looking at for several years. These tools represent cutting-edge machine learning and algorithm development and will allow us greater insight into what works in the classroom and how we can better design our work and home environments to be happier and healthier. We make the case for wellbeing at work to be a more strategic concern. More generally, we simply want to keep having an impact on peoples’ lives.

Do you believe companies are now convinced that CSR can make both social impact and profits? How do you evaluate the current state of corporate involvement with environmental and social issues?

Most of the leading companies are now convinced yes, though they may not call it CSR. There is a deeper awareness of the contract that business has with society. How that manifests itself changes from company to company. In general, organizations are realizing the key role they play in peoples’ lives; and by engaging with them more closely – be they employees, customers or the wider community -, they know they will add value to the business in the long term and protect themselves (as much as possible) from the dangers of disruption.

Horyou is the social network for social good. What is the role of the internet and social media in influencing our companies to be more sustainable and socially conscious?

Transparency and talent. Companies can no longer get away with fancy words that are not matched by deeds. The younger generation is automatically attuned to social good in a way probably never seen before and they will hold enterprises accountable to a new way of doing business, if not directly, then certainly with how they choose to spend their talents. Even the biggest and brightest companies can no longer count on brand prestige or history to attract the best talent. People want to invest their time in something bigger than themselves.

Changemakers is an Horyou initiative which aims to highlight remarkable people & projects related to the Sustainable Development Goals. In this article, we shed a light over #SDG8 – Decent work and economic growth.

The Sustainable Development Goal 14 is often overlooked. What many people forget, indeed, is the fact that we live in an ecosystem. The glass of water we drink, the rains and moist that help farmers produce our food, the climate that surrounds us, and even the air that we breathe, it’s all ultimately connected and regulated by the oceans.

Photo: UNDP

The SDG 14 aims to preserve life under water in order to guarantee life above water – seas and oceans are being constantly threatened by climate change, overfishing and pollution; and we face their consequences on a daily basis. The acidification of oceans, apart from causing the extinction of creatures like corals and shelled molluscs, also affects all the food chain, including fishes and seafood that in many countries are the main sources of protein.

According to UNDP, 16% of the 63 large marine ecosystems are at high risk. This is due to eutrophication, a name given by an excessive amount of nutrients in water and dense plant growth, which causes the death of marine species. The most vulnerable areas are the Gulf of Mexico, Western Europe, Southern and Eastern Asia.

The solution lies in government policies and commitments, as marine protected areas must be created and well-managed, with strategies to combat overfishing and incentive small-scale and sustainable fisheries. But we can do more! Many projects are engaged with the protection of the oceans and sea life and we, as consumers, have the power to influence companies and people to respect and protect life under water.

On the Horyou platform, organizations like Maradentro, based in Brazil, take a scientific approach to raise awareness about the risks that marine life is facing. Our community is always highlighting the issue in our blog and through discussions on our platform. You can also be part of this conversation!

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 protect life below water in your region or anywhere in the world. You can also show your support by participating in #HoryouLightChallenge! Be the change, be Horyou!

A year ago, Sophie Gray was a very successful fitness influencer – her Instagram account @wayofgray was a plethora of selfies, abs and workouts which inspired many in the pursuit of the perfect body. Yet, in spite of all the praise and hundreds of thousands of followers, she felt she was not being honest with herself in promoting the unreachable idea of perfection. After a nervous breakdown, she decided to explore a new path – one that leads to self-acceptance. Today, Sophie advocates self-acceptance and aims to foster women empowerment on social media. In this interview, she talks about her inspirations, plans for the future and the responsibility of being a role model for the next generations.

Sophie Gray

Why did you decide to advocate self-love and acceptance?

We live in a world where we are at war internally. We have become so disconnected from ourselves and I experienced this personally. For me, I decided to advocate self-love and acceptance because I didn’t have any other choice. I needed it in my own world, and through my inner work, it flowed over to my professional work through my channels.

Was there a moment when you felt you could do something different from other health and fitness influencers?

I had a panic attack on an airplane that had me step back and evaluate my personal life. From there, I connected with how I truly felt and realized I didn’t want to show up through my accounts in the ways that I had been. From there I decided to completely step away from fitness and have refocused on inspiring others to connect with themselves through introspection.

How important is it for you to empower girls and women?

I struggled with self-harm in my youth, and this was before social media really took off. I couldn’t imagine going through what I went through with the added pressures brought on by social media. I actually am establishing a nonprofit that works with youth in school creating space for them to show up and dive into their relationship with themselves.

I believe women have such an important role in our society. Often, we are the ones who raise the next generations and when we have a mother who is strong, confident and feels at home within herself, we are able to teach the younger generations to feel the same.

This isn’t to say all women are going to have children. And regardless of whether they are or not, they are, in some way, a role model to those growing up. I know for myself personally, I want my self-acceptance to inspire others that they’re deserving of their own acceptance.

Sophie now advocates for self-acceptance

Tell us about the self-love challenge – when and why did you come up with the idea and what does it consist of?

I hosted a challenge from Jan 1st to 5th 2018. It was about having my followers commit to coming home to themselves. There is a stillness that exists within all of us – this stillness, rooted in love, also exists within everyone. I want those who follow me to make 2018 the year they come home to themselves by diving through what they go through. This involves sitting with themselves, working through their experiences and feeling at peace with themselves. This challenge was a fun way to start the new year committing to coming home to yourself.

What are your goals for 2018?

In 2018, I am launching an app that will help men and women start conversations with themselves that will lead to greater self-awareness, emotional resilience and help develop a better love and appreciation for yourself and others. This will be launching in April.

I also plan to have my new name changed account, @sophiegray (formly @wayofgray), focus more on my passion for writing – while focusing on encouraging others to take time to turn within.

Changemakers is an Horyou initiative which aims to highlight remarkable people & projects related to the Sustainable Development Goals. In this article, we shed a light over #SDG5 / Gender Equality.


SDG#6 is an inspiration for Water Energy and Sanitation for Development (WESDE), an active member of our Horyou community. With the aim to fill the gap left by civil society organizations in terms of Health and Environment Education and Integrated Water Resources Management in Cameroon, WESDE faces security, infrastructure and funding challenges to bring development to urban and rural populations in the far North region of the country. Interview with Marie Louise Kongne, WESDE National Coordinator.

WESDE team acting in Cameroon

What are WESDE’s main goals?

While improving significantly the sanitation, hygiene and housing conditions of disadvantaged populations, we aim to reduce the percentage of the population that does not have sustainable access to a drinking water supply. We also want to train and educate people to sustainable management of water resources and the protection of the environment, trying to reverse the current trend of loss of environmental resources. In order to do so, we seek to cooperate with national and international organizations, develop and maintain partnership, exchange and learning relationships. Last but not least, one of our objectives is to accompany the community in the fight against HIV / AIDS in order to stop its spread and reverse the current trend.

Tell us about your main achievements in 2017 and your plans for 2018

In 2017, we helped to raise awareness on education and training of 125 community health workers to work closely with families in 9 health areas on 12 main themes. In total, more than 43,000 households were visited. We also had an active participation in the Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) coordination meetings of the far North region under the co-lead of UNICEF and the far North Regional Delegation of Water and Energy and, as a Partner of Global Water Partnership (GWP) Central Africa, we contributed to the WASH resilience project in the Mayo Tsanaga sub-basin. In 2018, we aim to implement the Community-Led Total Sanitation (CLTS) approach in 150 villages of 3 pilot health areas as part of the support of the government to improve sanitation conditions in rural areas.

What main challenges do you face in your work?

We have no appropriate vehicles, as we need 4X4 vehicles to reach many areas. The self-financing mechanism is still very weak and there is not a long-term program, which could be at least 3-year renewable. Also, we develop our activities in a context of high insecurity (by Boko Haram)

Your work is closely connected with the SDG#6. In your point of view, how important is it to have a global agenda for water and sanitation?

In comparison with Drinking Water Supply, sanitation has often fallen behind government and donor concerns; however, this situation is moving in the right direction as sectorial strategies are increasingly putting sanitation at the top of the agenda. Recent studies have shown the importance of sanitation for improving health, promoting social development and protecting the environment. It has also been shown that Sanitation interventions are particularly effective in terms of cost reduction if we judge the increase in productivity that they induce and the decrease in the diseases and deaths that they allow. With this in mind, in the framework of the International Year of Sanitation (AIA) by the United Nations in 2008, the African continent, with the support of the African Ministerial Council for Water and Sanitation (AWCOW) organized the AfricaSan conference in Durban in 2008. This regional conference culminated in the ambitious eThekwini ministerial statement, stressing the importance of leadership in sanitation and recommending that 0.5% of GDP must be spent on sanitation.

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