Ireland

 Dr Cara Auguestenborg speaking at Ted X
Dr Cara Augustenborg speaking at Ted X.

Dr. Cara Augustenborg is an environmental scientist and climate lecturer at UCD and Trinity College. As somebody who dedicates every day to research and educating people on a topic that is changing our world, she is a perfect example of an Horyou Personality doing positive, impactful work.

1) Horyou is a platform to highlight the people and projects that are making a positive impact on our world. Tell us about your work and how it is contributing to social good? 

I’ve studied environmental science for over a decade now and the overwhelming evidence on the impacts of climate change has led me to the conclusion that climate change is the greatest challenge of our time. Vested interests have prevented the full significance of climate change from reaching the general public because it’s in their economic interest not to address climate change. My own work to date has been focused on countering those vested interests by presenting climate change impacts and solutions in a simple, accessible, and objective manner. It can be really depressing talking about the endless impacts of climate change, but understanding the solutions to climate change requires knowledge in so many fields, from science and engineering to psychology, politics, law, and economics. I draw on all those disciplines in my work to try to emphasize that the things we need to do to slowdown climate change are also things that would improve our society, economy, health, and quality of life anyway.  

2) Horyou was proud to be a part of COP 21 this year. Tell us your thoughts on what was agreed and the next steps for action?

COP21 was a historic occasion and it was a thrill to be present the moment 195 countries agreed to finally address climate change. However, the ambition of the Paris Climate Agreement is detached from the science of global warming. While the Agreement would have been a resounding success 15 years ago, we are running out of time to solve an impending climate crisis and it’s not clear if the Paris Climate Agreement has enough substance or fast enough timelines to do what really needs to be done, which is essentially to move to a fossil-fuel free global society in the next three decades. The only way to ensure success is for people and NGOs to push their governments to act on the level of ambition set forth in the Paris Climate Agreement. Right now, every country needs to ramp up their level of action from the intended nationally determined contributions they set-forth before COP21 or we simply won’t achieve the target of keeping the Earth’s average warming from pre-industrial temperatures below the 1.5C limit established in the Paris Climate Agreement. 

3) Many industries are now realizing that being environmentally conscious is good business and will actually serve them and their profits in the long run. What are your views on this? 

Dr Cara Augustenborg
Dr. Cara Augustenborg, environmental scientist and climate lecturer at UCD and Trinity College.
It is great to see some industries and businesses looking at their contribution to long-term societal and environmental sustainability. I think the advances that have been made on putting a financial value on nature (natural capital) and moving toward a circular or green economy, where the waste from one industry becomes the fuel for another, are really helping businesses to incorporate true sustainability into their business models. We still need to see businesses and governments divesting from fossil-fuel based practices and incentivising businesses that are supporting the low-carbon transition. The divestment movement has been phenomenally successful in only a few years at moving assets away from fossil fuels, but our governments are still subsidizing fossil fuel extraction and exploration which completely defeats the ambition of the Paris Climate Agreement.



4) You are a lecturer at University College Dublin and Trinity College Dublin so you are surrounded by “millennials.” How would you sum up the attitude of today’s students around climate change/sustainable living? 

Teaching university students about climate change and environment is definitely the element of my work that keeps me motivated. They are so open to new ideas and positive about their ability to influence change. The millennials do not see climate change as something that will impact future, distant generations but as a crisis of their own generation and one that will impact their children even more significantly. In Ireland, we’re already seeing the climate change in a world that is only 1 degree Celsius warmer than the pre-industrial baseline. We’re seeing stronger storms, more frequent floods, and we’re looking at potential sea level rise of 1 meter over this century, which will displace at least 45,000 homes and businesses along our coasts. Ireland is considered to be one of the less-impacted countries with respect to climate change, so we also anticipate it will become a safe-haven for climate refugees, dramatically altering our population density and rural environment. The millennials will witness many of these changes in their lifetime, so they feel a greater sense of urgency to address the problem than the generations before them. As lecturers, I think we have a real obligation to educate them about the challenges they’re facing to improve their odds of being able to adapt and alter how they plan to prepare for climate-related risks. 

5) Horyou supports people acting on their dreams through the work that you do. What are your ultimate goals or ambitions? 

My goal is simple. All I really want is to leave this planet a little better than the way I found it. I live by Alice Walker’s words: “Activism is the rent I pay for living on the planet.” I started my academic career in water research because I thought clean fresh water resources were the greatest global challenge facing us today, but as the scientific evidence began to mount up I soon realized that climate change was an even greater challenge and would create disruptions in our water cycle that would lead to even greater global instability. So, if I’m going to leave this world a little better than I found it, I feel I have to do whatever I can to help solve climate change. Sometimes that feels like an impossible task because solving climate change requires an understanding of so many disciplines, but ‘many hands make light work’ so I contribute in whatever small ways I can, be it through teaching, writing, research, or activism. Together with my colleagues in the academic and NGO sectors, I think we’ve made good progress in advancing understanding of climate change in Ireland, but we still have a long way to go and there’s no end to the battles we face to create real action on climate. I know no one can solve climate change on their own, so I just feel privileged to get to help out in whatever way I can and I’m very fortunate to be surrounded by colleagues who are a joy to work with and inspire me to keep going.

Aside from educating the next generation of hopeful change makers in the world Cara blogs at caraaugustenborg.com and will soon launch “The Verdant Yank,” giving her Irish American perspective on Ireland’s environmental issues. Dr. Augustenborg’s main aim is to make environmental issues part of the national conversation. She wants to help people to understand them in the context of the economic and social fabric of societies at this critical time. We are proud to have featured Dr. Augustenborg on the Horyou blog.

Written by Dearbhla Gavin

Brian McGoldrick, Head of compliance at Leman Solicitors
Brian McGoldrick, Head of compliance at Leman Solicitors

The Future of Banking and Financial Services Summit took place in The Gibson Hotel, Dublin on April 28th. Held in conjunction with The Sunday Business Post and iQuest events, its attendees represented the full spectrum of financial services, from retail banking to payments to regulatory risk and compliance.

Everyday, we realize the financial services industry is evolving. With the use of technology, movement of capital is becoming more fluid, methods of exchange are changing and as Horyou is harnessing these opportunities with their new social currency “Spotlight”, I was interested to learn from the executives leading this change.  

The morning keynote was delivered by Colm Lyon, CEO of Fire Financial Services who alluded to “The Great Fintech Scramble”, where many financial services companies are racing to capture market share. He was optimistic about the opportunities that lie across the industry for apps and payments services but also cautioned technology evangelists: “It takes a long time and capital to build a fintech business”.

Colm Lyon, CEO of Fire Financial Services
Colm Lyon, CEO of Fire Financial Services
There was some interesting comments made about the legalities of fintech; it’s easy to forget how rapid these changes are but any industry of course still needs to be governed. Dominic Conlon, Head of the Corporate Department at Lehman Solicitors highlighted the fact that archaic laws don’t fit with the constantly evolving nature of cyberspace. “The law doesn’t know about payments”, he said, and Ronan Hughes, Head of European Payments Services at RBS joined him in saying: “inaction is not an option”.

Ronan McGoldrick of Leman Solicitors reiterated how difficult it is to regulate in the area of fintech and the need for collaboration. “Regulators and innovators will need to come together”, he said. So here another one of the founding principles of Horyou was highlighted – collective action.

The afternoon session was centered around how finance will reinvent itself in this era of disruptive innovation. Anthony Watson, President and CEO of Uphold, the world’s fastest growing money platform, said that the Keynesian model of a bank lending according to what it says on their balance sheet is over. “I would be worried if I was a big bank, the industry is changing, they cannot rely on their legacy anymore”, he said.

Watson also made reference to banks and social impact with regard to fees. He said that technology gives us a real chance to democratize the industry and level out the playing field. This reminded me of the potential that Horyou’s Spotlight has, where it can can allow investors who have the capital to give it to impactors who don’t, therefore spreading wealth and ultimately making a positive social impact.

Giuseppe Insalaco, Senior Advisor at Central Bank of Ireland, closed with his personal view on what the future holds for the financial services industry. Emerging trends, he highlighted, were ‘enhanced consumer intelligence’ and ‘razor sharp’ market segmentation. ”Data is the new gold”, he said. As internet users leave their electronic footprint, entrepreneurs harness this data and identify customers’ needs. However, this also makes speed to market critical and intensifies competition.   In his crystal ball analysis, Insalaco predicted crowdfunding coming of age and legitimizing, becoming less social and more business led. He was fearful of the emergence of an arms race in cybersecurity – “A wall is only as good as the next hacker” -, and predicted an escalation of online breaches.

The main takeaways from the event was that fintech brings opportunities and threats to the financial services industry. Customers will always need a place to manage their finances; whether this is in a traditional bank or an online money platform, they will go with whoever offers them the best return. New platforms like Horyou’s Spotlight add yet another layer, offering social returns.

Written by Dearbhla Gavin

China panel discussion
China panel discussion

Last Friday night,students, professors and a distinguished line up of speakers gathered at my alma matter, Trinity College, Dublin for the annual Trinity Economic Forum.

The premise of the forum is that it takes students away from their books and allows them to think about and discuss economics in the context of what is happening in the world today.

The students that would attend are most likely interested in how the world works and could very likely go into policy or industry themselves, making a very real impact on society,so I thought it was an important event for Horyou to be at, to see the concerns and values of the next generation.

The agenda was “Taking Economics Forward.” Ireland has recovered from its economic collapse and is now on course to be the fastest growing economy in Europe.

However, the last few years have taught us that in an increasingly globalized and connected world, what happens ten thousand miles away can impact at home, so I found the line up to definitely be more internationally focused than other years.

The night began with Economist and former WEF Young Global Leader David Mc Williams addressing the audience on what economics really means. He alluded to his own time studying at Trinity and the fact that students are still reading from the text books that he did in the 1980’s. He expressed concern that the curriculum hasn’t changed as the world has changed and that models, albeit important frameworks, don’t capture the realities and disparities of economies today.

Economist David Mc Williams addressing the audience
Economist David Mc Williams addressing the audience

He ended with a plea for the economists of tomorrow to use the theory they are learning and contextualize it. Learn to think for themselves, look around and most importantly, use their voice to contribute to the study and understanding of economics in a way that makes a positive impact on society.

Next on the agenda was an engaging panel discussion on China. As the second largest economy in the world and a place in which many of us rely on to both produce and consume, what happens in China reverberates across the world.

As it is going through a period of transition, changing from investment led to consumption led economy, a lot of people and especially the markets are unsure about the future of China as a world superpower. Linda Yueh, University of Oxford fellow and BBC correspondent said that “this stumbling is unsurprising, it is taking a fifth of the world’s population and making them prosperous.”

Thinking about it in simple terms, if China’s manufacturing sector can stabilize, it can provide jobs for its population and produce goods for the west. If the earnings of its enormous population are good enough, there will be a demand for products and services from the west. The outcome of this East – West supply and demand axis is crucial to understanding the importance of China in the world economy.

The evening ended with panels on Britain and the EU, the migration crisis and what this means for the social stability of Europe, and where Ireland lies in respect to all of this.

The quality of the subjects, contributions and speakers would deserve attention beyond the actual on site attendance on a Friday evening. It would indeed be of relevance that college students everywhere and beyond the sacrosanct textbooks discuss and exchange opinions on world events that will very definitely impact all of our lives.

Horyou is built on the principles of communication for social good, which is why forums such as the Trinity Economic Forum are a good opportunity to share ideas and opinions, challenge the status quo and exercise democracy and, most importantly, progress as a society.

By Dearbhla Gavin

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It is a universally established fact that misbehavior in finance and bad judgment in monetary policy were two major catalysts of the world recession that has touched almost every economy over the last few years. Financial institutions are the driving force of an economy; they allow businesses to produce and consumers to spend and so their actions have a very real impact on our lives.

There were times when austerity measures would reinstate reason and measure in that seemingly wild arena but now, technological revolution with the hyper connectivity and infinite openings that it offers, is providing the world of finance with a chance to make a real social impact; and this time, for good.

This is happening right now in Ireland and specifically at Bank of Ireland, in Grand Canal Square, in Belfast, whose Head of Innovation, David Tighe, I met at MoneyConf.

We had an energetic chat on how banking has a real chance to turn its reputation around and start being a facilitator rather than a drain on the economy. He told me how Bank of Ireland has finally acknowledged the impact of start-ups on Ireland’s economic growth, as they are now a core element of their strategy.

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To that effect, Bank of Ireland has set up a workbench in its Grand Canal Square branch with plans to expand to the major cities across the country. Put simply, it is a space where start-ups can come any day to work and build their business in an innovative and vibrant environment with free WIFI, free coffee and snacks, a network of like-minded people, and staff to answer all financial questions.

BOI Innovation Hub is completely aligned with Horyou when it comes to the interdisciplinary model as both believe in the power of cross collaboration and sharing of ideas. Diversity should be celebrated and the best results come from convergence of different experiences, thoughts and skills.

I challenged David on the fact that a bank is still a profit seeking institution; so what’s in it really for them? He said that as an enterprise bank, ‘start-ups are our product’. He believes that with the right advice and support, start-ups can grow, create real value and become driving force of growth in the economy.

BOI_startup

I was also happy to hear that along with supporting potentially high return companies, sustainability is key consideration; entrepreneurs are realizing the competitive advantage of long-term servicing. And this is not just about environmental impact; sustainable business is built with a long-term focus in mind, be it environmental or economic.

This is why Bank of Ireland, and hopefully many more institutions, will continue to support start-ups; the end goal of solely financial gain is changing to that of financial gain plus social good. They have society in mind, and we hope that from now on, other banks will too.

By Dearbhla Gavin

By Lucas Bullens

It was a privilege for Horyou to be invited to the fourth edition of the Web Summit in Dublin, Ireland. With a staggering 22,000 attendees this year, it is the largest technology conference in Europe.

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A total of 11 Horyou team members participated at the summit – seven from Geneva and four from Paris. Everyone woke up bright and early the first day to start setting up a stand at the event. The stands were quite small and intimate, and we had numerous other startups for neighbors.

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We were located in the area called The Village, where the Center Stage was located. The rooms were constantly filled with a sea of people, and the Horyou stand got quite a bit of attention (handing out Swiss chocolate being one of our many weapons for attracting people). During the course of the day, the rest of the Horyou team members arrived at the summit, and after a busy day at the stand, we finally packed up and journeyed back to our respective apartments to rest before heading out to dinner. Afterwards, we went to the Night Summit, a kind of pub crawl, which was organized by the Web Summit. People enjoyed the Irish nightlife experience and continued their networking in a more casual setting.

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The second day of the Web Summit, we were able to network, discover and really take in this incredible experience. Our media team was lucky to meet and interview the legendary skateboarder Tony Hawk, who was promoting his foundation at the summit. After this special encounter, the media team continued conducting interviews around the venue. Before all heading out after another exhausting day, some of the boys fed their “need for speed” by trying out prototype electric motorcycles. It was a great day!

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The final day, we all arrived motivated to finish off the summit off with a bang. We continued exploring, meeting new people and networking, while the media team managed to get hold of John Sculley, the ex-CEO of Apple, for an interview.

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Just after lunch, the entire team took part in an epic flyer distribution session. We were positioned next the area of the venue called The Town, which was a prime location in terms of visibility. Once we were done with our session, we were rewarded with a front-row seat to a group of shepherds failing at gathering a flock of multicolored sheep. Having not eaten lunch ourselves, we hurried to the Food Summit to grab whatever food was left there.

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The grand finale was the arrival of Bono. The Center Stage hall was packed. Bono, together with Eric Wahlforss (founder of SoundCloud), sat for a talk on the Center Stage. Afterwards, we gathered the remaining team members and headed to the Food Summit for a closing dinner party. Premium traditional Irish food and drinks were served. The Irish folk music gave everyone an irresistible urge to dance. And the presence of Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny seemed to make people shout out: “Free Water!”

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With full stomachs, we all headed back to our apartments. But the night was not over. Some of us met up at a club called Opium, where the closing party was held. The following day, the team went their separate ways and flew back home.

All in all, the Web Summit was a wonderful and eye-opening experience. It showed us the magnitude of the tech scene. !

See you next year!

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