Singapore is proudly known as The Garden City by its citizens. The nickname makes every bit of sense – the city is investing in environmental-friendly projects and is committed to sustainability.

Gardens by the Bay

What comes to one’s mind when one hears of Singapore? Many would say a high-tech, advanced city-state with a dense population and a praiseworthy economic performance. But there’s much more to one of the most innovative communities of the Eastern world as indeed Singapore has been investing heavily in sustainability, green projects and innovative policies – a long-term commitment that should serve as an example for other countries to follow.

There are three fields where the city stands out when it comes to green innovation: urban planning, water management and clean energy. It’s all connected – green buildings, mandatory since 2008, help people to save water, cool temperatures down naturally and improve the quality of the air. They also provide healthier, open spaces for adults and children.

In urban planning, for example, Singapore has set a rule for new developments in the Marina Bay area whereby developers must comply with a 100% greenery replacement policy. It’s also in the same area that the city has created one of the largest freshwater reservoirs in the world and set aside a 250 acres of green area named Gardens by the Bay. Many public buildings have now their own green terraces. Connected with one another, they make jogging tracks up in the sky!

The city aims to attain by 2030 a 80% score in the environmental performance rating called Green Mark, reducing carbon emissions and energy consumption. In Marina Bay, visitors can find Supertrees which collect solar energy by day and by night perform a beautiful light show. Singapore has also an electric car project called Eva Taxi, a collaborative project developed by the local university that will transform public transportation while saving energy.

Regarding water management, Singapore has invested in the reuse of reclaimed water, rainwater collection system and dessalination. Committed to building a water-conscious society, the city has won many prizes for its efforts on public and private management of water and is considered as a benchmakr in the use of innovation in the sustainable use of water.

The host city of SIGEF 2018 is on the frontline of innovation for good!

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!

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.

The 6th United Nation Sustainable Development Goal is about providing clean and safe access to the most precious liquid on earth for all.

Water and Sanitation for all. Photo: UNDP Philippines

Two years ago, a major environmental disaster struck Brazil – the liquid waste reservoir of the mining company Samarco burst, wiping out a village, killing 11 people and poisoning the waters of the Rio Doce, a water source that supplies two Brazilian states. The riverside population and fishermen have been facing difficult times since. The water is still unsafe to drink, and the iron contamination has exterminated the local fauna. Scientists predict it would take 100 years for the river to fully recover from the catastrophe. And what of the fundamental right to a safe source of water? The question remains unanswered and it’s an everyday struggle for all communities to exercise their right to satisfy this basic need.

The 6th UN Sustainable Development Goal aims to provide access to safe water and sanitation and sound management of freshwater ecosystems for all by 2030. Both are essential to human health, as well as to environmental sustainability and economic prosperity.

The UNDP reports that over 90 per cent of the world’s population uses improved drinking water sources and over two-thirds use improved sanitation facilities. Yet, most rural areas in underdeveloped countries have to cope with the lack of both, and the resulting bad health consequences. «Achieving universal access to basic sanitation and ending the unsafe practice of open defecation will require substantial acceleration of progress», says the report published in 2017.

A fourth of global population lives in countries with water stress, meaning they are vulnerable to future water scarcity by not having enough renewable sources. Countries in Northern Africa and Western Asia already face severe water stress. This is a matter of public policy; however, the participation of other actors, including organizations and local communities, is key to effective water and sanitation management.

WESDE trains health agents to act within communities

Within our Horyou community, the organization WESDE – Water, Energy and Sanitation for Development is very active in providing integrated water resources management, sanitation and health education in Cameroon. WESDE acts in both rural and urban areas, supporting the most vulnerable populations with information and resources for development.

Another member of the Horyou platform, EAA Burundi, created in 1988, is active in more than 35 African countries, as well as in Israel. It helps supply drinking water, using innovative solutions like dry latrines and simplified sewer networks, while supporting the communities through agricultural, financial and development projects.

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 water and sanitation 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!

From June 30 to July 2, European Youth Awards invite creative minds to join a game marathon at the Technical University of Graz, in Austria.

EYA Game Jam
EYA Game Jam

Why not use technology to discuss social and environmental changes? That’s the challenge presented by the European Youth Awards to the young, creative minds that will be part of EYA Game Jam. The programming competition takes place at the Technical University of Graz, in Austria, and will use tools like virtual reality and 360° to discuss topics like water and family.

The goal is to create game prototypes to address both topics, that are intrinsically connected to the Sustainable Development Goals. Says Kathrin Quatember, EYA spokesperson: “Two of the UN SDGs focus on the topic of water; Goal 6 – Clean water and sanitation and Goal 14 – Life below the sea. By establishing a special category, EYA wants to contribute to the international awareness of treating the “source of life“. Secondly, we try to motivate young innovators and entrepreneurs to develop smart solutions for water related problems and apply for European Youth Awards 2017”. Water should also be the topics of the EYA 2017, she added.

The idea of using virtual reality and tech gadgets in the event stems from the fact that EYA wanted to bring digital technologies to the center of social innovation discussions within the EYA community. “The combination of the Game Jam topics ‘water’ and ‘family’ with VR and 360° technology is thrilling. It enriches the possibilities for the Game Jammers to reach the peak of creativity and opens new possibilities to approach the topics”, said Kathrin.

The competition is open to everyone interested in game and development. EYA partnered with VRCORE, the organizer of the “Global VR Hackathon“ – a worldwide event with regional competitions and a Championship Final in Shanghai at the end of August. Three Winners of the Jam will be invited to the Championship Final – a unique opportunity for the participants to expand their network and learn!

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. We invite you to Be the Change, Be Horyou!

Engagée sur les thèmes de la préservation des forets et de l’accès à l’eau potable aux populations des pays africains, la ministre de l’Économie forestière, du Développement durable et de l’Environnement de la République du Congo, Rosalie Matondo, était une invitée très spéciale du SIGEF à Marrakesh, lors de la COP22. Paneliste au premier jour du Forum, elle nous a parlé sur les projets du gouvernement congolais pour l’environnement et sur l’importance de la COP22 pour mettre les accords sur le changement climatique en action.

La ministre Rosalie Matondo a parlé au publique du SIGEF
La ministre Rosalie Matondo a parlé au publique du SIGEF

Pouvez-vous nous expliquer sur vos projets de préservation des forêts au Congo et son impact social?

Les forêts, comme nous le savons, régulent les équilibres climatiques mondiaux. Étant conscients de cela, nous avons lancé un grand programme national de reforestation et de reboisement d’un million de plantations. Nous avons une grande superficie de forêts naturelles au Congo et nous sommes conscients que nous devons les préserver. D’un autre coté, le bois est encore utilisé comme source d’énergie extraite des forêts naturelles dans beaucoup de nos pays. C’est pourquoi le gouvernement de la République du Congo a lancé ce programme de reforestation et reboisement, afin que les populations non seulement continuent à utiliser le bois comme source d’énergie, le bois issu des plantations, mais également à pouvoir faire un grand projet de séquestration du carbone.

Le deuxième projet c’est “L’eau pour tous”. Le gouvernement congolais a lancé un programme d’installation de 4 mille forages dans les villages où l’eau de source pose encore un problème. Cela permet l’approvisionnement de l’eau potable mais également d’alléger la pénibilité des femmes qui dans les villages sont obligées de faire des kilomètres pour aller puiser le l’eau.

Durant la COP22, le gouvernement Congolais a lancé un fond de préservation des forêts. De quoi s’agit-il?

C’est le fond bleu pour le Bassin du Congo, toujours pour cet accès à l’eau mais également pour les systèmes de production modernes de l’agriculture, donc des systèmes d’irrigation. La COP22 pour nous c’est une opportunité de financement et de transfert de technologie. Nous savons que les gouvernements peuvent participer au financement de nos projets. Notre attente ici c’est que, déjà, tous ensemble, nous travaillions sur le transfert de technologies et tous ensemble, nous réfléchissions sur la mobilisation et le financement.

La ministre de l’Économie forestière, du Développement durable et de l'Environnement de la République du Congo
La ministre de l’Économie forestière, du Développement durable et de l’Environnement de la République du Congo

Quelles sont les axes de développement de la République du Congo pour la COP22?

Nous avons les acquis de la COP de Paris, parce que nous partons de là. Dans la COP de Paris, les pays du Bassin du Congo avaient donné leur position, et nous, la République du Congo, avons appuyé cette position des pays d’Afrique, des pays du Bassin du Congo et également des 77 pays plus la Chine. Pour nous, toutes les décisions prise lors de la COP21 de Paris sont incontestables, maintenant nous devons aller vers l’opérationnalisation ; c’est pourquoi je remercie son altesse royale qui a mis l’accent sur l’action ici sur la COP22. Nous devons aller vers l’action. Je crois que toutes nos populations sont fatiguées des promesses qui n’apportent pas de solutions. La COP21 à Paris a démontré que nous avons tous pris conscience de la gravité de la situation et même les pays qui n’ont pas signé le Protocol de Kyoto ont signé l’Accord de Paris. Nous avons vu avec quelle rapidité l’Accord est entré en vigueur et c’est un espoir pour la planète toute entière. Nous voulons nous accrocher à cette espoir et trouver des solutions et mettre en action.

De quelle manière le changement climatique a affecté le Bassin du Congo et quelles sont les mesures pour réduire cet impact?

Le Bassin du Congo est la zone où la déforestation est la moins importante. Nous n’avons que 0,05% de déforestation. Mais nous n’en sommes pas contents. Nous savons que ce poumon là, comme le poumon de l’Amazonie, peut aider la planète. C’est pourquoi la République du Congo, après les années 2000, a opté dans sa législation pour une gestion durable des forêts, avec un aménagement forestier, avec la certification forestière, avec le programme national de reforestation et reboisement ; au total, 13% de son territoire est ainsi protégé. Tous ces efforts convergent vers la contribution à la préservation de cet écosystème. Et nous allons vers un fond bleu pour le bassin du Congo qui va aider à la gestion des plans d’eau mais aussi à l’approvisionnement des populations.

Écrit par Vivian Soares

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