Well Being

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!


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.

Every baby taking its first breath is a potential actor of change. Every teenager living in a healthy environment has the potential to create a stable and happy family. Every woman with access to a safe childbirth is potentially a loving mother. Health is an essential condition to change the world for the better.

Photo: UNDP

What would the world be like when deaths are not caused by neglected or badly treated diseases anymore? The UN Sustainable Development Goal number 3 aims to ensure healthy lives and well-being for all at all ages.

It does not mean that we would no more have diseases and deaths, but that we would minimize avoidable mistakes and negligence. Global maternity mortality ratio, for instance, would be reduced to less than 70 per 100,000 and epidemics of infectious diseases would end by 2030. Road accidents, tobacco-related illnesses and other health conditions caused by lack of access to treatment would not be part of our daily lives either.

According to the UN, many advances have been made on the health front worldwide since 2000. Yet we still have to face realities such as the ones we find in sub-Saharan regions whereby only 53% live births are assisted by skilled people and mortality among children under 5 years of age is 84‰, almost twice global rates. Part of the solution is to prevent early and unintended pregnancies by fighting child marriages and spreading reproductive education; but there is an urgent need to invest and train in skilled care and sound health policies worldwide.

Infectious diseases are yet another challenge to face – HIV, tuberculosis and hepatitis B epidemics continue to plague many countries -, and the solution lies in prevention. Vaccines, sanitation and hygiene, as well as sexual education are to be improved. The same applies to premature deaths caused by depression, alcohol and tobacco, all of which are taboo ailments in several regions.

Many of these health risks are directly related to poor quality medical assistance and lack of health coverage and funding, especially in underdeveloped regions. Available data from 2005 to 2015 indicate that over 40% countries count less than one physician per 1,000 people, and around half have fewer than three nurses or midwives per 1,000 people. Almost all least developed countries count less than one physician and fewer than three nurses or midwives per 1,000 people.

Many organizations and social projects did produce some improvement. Child Family Health International, an NGO that is active on our Horyou platform, is one fine example of community-based global health education programs for students and institutions that aim at empowering local communities. CFHI acts on undergraduate medical schools curricula and publishes papers and publications on global health safety on a regular basis.

Based in Cameroon, Ascovime, yet another active member of the Horyou community, runs educational health campaigns and provides free medical consultation and surgery to isolated communities throughout the country. Ascovime was founded by Dr. Georges Bwelle, a surgeon at the Central Hospital in Yaoundé and a CNN Hero.

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 health and well-being 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!


Version Française ici

The weekend 19th to the 20th of September in Geneva marked the yearly Alternatiba Léman Festival which was centered on the theme of promoting local initiatives for climate change and the art of positively living together. The Festival hosted conferences and debates, as well as food and clothing stands, music, movie projections and local food products. It took place on the sunny Plaine de Plainpalais, a prominent square within the city of Geneva, with events also held at the house of associations and the communal hall of the Plainpalais neighborhood.

The Festival gathered around 500 people in support of local farmers, local merchants and helpful sustainable living in Geneva and the surrounding areas. It was a true embodiment of local actions for climate and the joys of connecting for a positive lifestyle. Horyou collaborated with the association and supported its “The Meal” initiative, a lunch cooked with locally produced agricultural products, with the idea to gather a large number of people from across the world to share a Meal in support of farmers and their plea for food sovereignty and access to resources, soil, water and seeds.


“The Meal” was held simultaneously in about 20 other locations worldwide, with the same goal of promoting consumption of local products. In Geneva, it delighted 200 people on the Plaine and consisted of long tables filled with fresh tomatoes, salads, gazpachos, fresh fruits and vegetables, sauces and pasta.

“The Meal”, a truly unifying power in its ideals and encouragement throughout the world, was thus the occasion for all participants to get together, share thoughts and build solidarity within their communities, on the spot, as well as via Skype conversations. Geneva connected with Mali – led by Aminata Touré -, Morocco – led by Nicole Jeffroy -, Nepal – led by Jagat Basnet -, and Pakistan – led by a young university student called Irene Farkhanda -, to mention but a few locations.

Proceeds from “The Meal” went to various nonprofits in Geneva and in Benin, as the Festival had a dedicated area for local nonprofits and various organizations. Horyou had a stand as well, and so did some of the organizations on the Horyou platform, such as One Action and Voix Libres. The event went on through Sunday with even more participants and visitors. We look forward to seeing bigger local agricultural food tables, and more Meals shared in more locations across the world at next year’s festival.

By Amma Aburam

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