This is our last post of the Down To Earth Tumblr Blog… BUT… we are so glad to welcome you to follow us on a new blog including a new design! On this refreshed version, we will be giving a voice to the peoplewho are inventing new solutions, reflecting on new productsand services that are more and more beneficial to all, visiting the placeswhere change is made.
We really hope you will make this place yours rapidly and that you will enjoy the experience.
Carlos Cruz: “With Semilla, we are starting a social development constellation”
This week, we had the opportunity to meet Carlos Cruz, founder of a Mexican NGO that has helped the Danone Ecosystem Fund set up the micro-distribution Semilla programme in Mexico City. Here are his views on the experience.
Small-holding milk producers in Egypt suffer from decreasing milk prices and the monopolization of the dairy trade by local traders.
To address these problems, DANONE and CARE international in Egypt decided to collaborate and work with two types of Egyptian agricultural cooperatives to learn more about the necessary interventions to improve the situation for small-holding milk producers.
The project aims at supporting smallholders through two main levers: training them to improve milk productivity and quality, and helping them to sell their milk at a fair price.
A French start-up develops and sells a wind turbine that produces drinking water from the moisture present in the wind, using a high environmental quality approach. Its founder, Marc Parent, has an ambition: he aims to use his invention to solve the problem of access to water in remote and poor communities.
“Give us wind, we give you water” is the slogan of Eole Water, a French start-up based in Sainte Tulle, in the south of the country. Its founder, Marc Parent, is also the inventor of the company’s flagship product, the WMS1000: a wind turbine that produces drinking water from the moisture present in the air – “WMS” stands for “Water Maker System”. Holder of a patent for his invention, Marc Parent is currently testing the WMS1000 in extreme conditions, in Abu Dhabi. But the CEO wants to do more than “just” sell his technology to major clients, as he has defined a social and environmental mission for his start-up.
Addressing the access-to-water issue with advanced technology
On Eole Water’s website as well as in the interviews he gives, Marc Parent is quite clear: the goal of the company, its raison d’être really, is to make drinking water accessible to the populations who lack it the most severely, in parts of the world where water scarcity is a plague. “Today, 150 million people worldwide live in remote areas without any access to safe drinking water. Eole Water’s mission is to provide these isolated communities with drinking water.” To achieve that mission, 15 years ago, while he was working in the air-conditioning industry, Marc Parent came up with the idea of using the condensation technique to build a wind turbine that produces water. The system is actually quite simple: the wind turbine uses the wind to create electricity. The electricity then powers a capacitor that condenses the dew in the air. A few meters below, on the pole, the water produced flows directly from a tap. A treatment unit can also be added next to the turbine if the water needs further cleansing. The water produced by WMS1000 complies with, and even exceeds, the World Health Organization standards for drinking water. The whole process is demonstrated in this video:
Eole Water’s windmill is now able to produce up to 1500 litres of water a day, depending on weather conditions. It requires no external energy source, and the company insists that “this new technology is strongly influenced by the principles of sustainable development, with air, wind or sun being the only consumables. There is no CO2 released, no groundwater drilling or water surface pumping.” WMS1000 is thus designed to meet the challenge of access to water, in both social and environmental terms.
Taking the next step
According to Marc Parent, another benefit of the invention is that it makes it possible to bring drinking water production systems to areas of the world which lack basic infrastructure, since no distribution pipes or electrical systems need to be installed. Of course, the turbine can also supply bigger communities which have the required infrastructure, but this is not a prerequisite. However, in order for the innovation to reach the most remote areas, it will first have to become much, much cheaper. As Eole Water and its invention are still in the early commercialisation stage, the WMS1000 is still quite expensive and the company will first have to find large clients – for instance the United Arab Emirates, where the turbine is currently being tested. The next step, once the economies of scale are achieved, will be to make the technology accessible to poorer communities. Eole Water, like any other start-up, is soon going to face the difficult phase of scaling up production, an indispensable condition for the fulfilment of its mission.
The Kyoto protocol, signed in 1997, is the only international treaty to set legally binding targets on cutting greenhouse emissions, The governments of almost 200 countries are meeting this week in Doha, Qatar, to discuss a new treaty to succeed Kyoto, which expires at the end of the year. Here are four pictures we have chosen to illustrate the last 15 years of climate talks.
Business schools and social innovation: the beginning of a love affair?
Over the past few years, many business schools have launched social innovation courses, programmes or chairs. The creators or students of such programmes have answered our questions to explain how important social innovation is and will be for students, schools and enterprises, and why. The good news is that it is attracting more and more people, and that you do not have to be an entrepreneur to innovate.
40 per cent of Argentinians are unaware of their cholesterol, despite it being one of the country’s biggest killers.
To promote their cholesterol-lowering drink, Vidacol, Danone via +Castro turned Buenos Aires’ famous Obelisk monument into a beating heart, during the Month of the Heart - It beated to the rhythm of its people.
Eco-Emballages: 20 years making packaging more environmentally-friendly
Eco-Emballages, a private initiative recognised by the French public authorities, will turn 20 in 2012. Thanks to its comprehensive approach, which integrates all the actors in the chain, packaging recycling has already dramatically increased in France – and efforts are ongoing.
Twenty years ago, a private company called Eco-Emballages was created at the initiative of consumer goods firms with the aim of “installing, organising, supervising and funding the selective collection, sorting and recycling of France’s domestic waste.” Over the past two decades, Eco-Emballages (which is recognised by the public authorities) has grown, constantly taking on new, additional missions and working hand in hand with companies, local communities and consumers to develop a sustainable approach to packaging, especially for mass-market food products.