When there is a lack of legal regulations and business is slow to respond (or have less interest in doing so) we, the people are left to take action. We can successfully do so by making responsible choices and putting our money where we think they make the most good. But this can be challenging with so much information at the end of your finger-tips; what to trust? How can we find the correct data to help us make the daily choices we are faced with? And when we are standing there, in the super market isle, ready to make that purchase, how do we know it’s the most environmentally friendly option? Does it have palmoil in it? What is the carbon footprint of the product? Was it responsibly made?
How do we find the time to make the right choice?
These questions and many more we explored at our last Sustainable Development Goals Network MeetUp in London. 37 people were gathered in the room, kindly provided by Mott MacDonald, to hear our speakers share their innovations and show how tech can support you in your daily choices; to help you be a more responsible and aware consumer, in ways that will ultimately lead to less impact on our climate and planet and support sustainable use of resources. Our speaker panel was made up of Jo Hand, Giki, Alex Robertson, Poseidon Foundation and Oliver Bolton, Almond. Providing a very different angle to tech and the SDGs (or to use their full name, the Sustainable Development Goals) we also had the pleasure of hosting Nermeen Mustafa, CellBio-London Training Academy.
With 52% of our personal carbon footprint coming from goods and services that we buy our money drives a lot of our impact and can therefore also be a significant force for good. Technology can be used for raising awareness, educate, create action and reward the mass market helping us all to become more conscious consumers. Giki, Almond and Poseidon Foundation all have fantastic solutions to the conundrum that today’s citizens are facing, and they are presenting it at the tip of your fingers in their tech for good apps. Tech that will make you feel less helpless and confused and supports meaningful action in your day to day life. Giki is a mobile app which that informs you about the products you buy and the companies you buy them from, just by scanning the bar code. This includes whether the products have sustainable palm-oil or not. Poseidon Foundation uses AI and blockchain to quickly analyze the carbon footprint of any product or service, and then process carbon credits in fractions small enough to rebalance the product or service at point of sale - i.e. you pay for the carbon footprint you are causing by purchasing a specific product. Almond is a real-life game designed to 'educate, activate and reward' individuals for reducing their negative impact; through buying challenges, action challenges and offsetting challenges.
The presentations from these three organisations show that education is essential for a sustainable future. But how do we bring education to all parts of the world, to those who might lack the financial means and that don’t have access to the educational resources that people in developed countries may have? Nermeen shared her story, of education in her home country Egypt and in the UK, which made her want to support people with less means to still have access to great education – and she is doing it via a network of senior lecturers across the globe and online laboratories when the real equipment platform is not available, changing the way of teaching.
At the end of the event, the room was buzzing with discussions and new connections were made. I truly hope that this event, with a particular focus on quality education (SDG 4), responsible consumption and production (SDG 12) and climate action (SDG 13), also will result in new collaborations and partnerships (SDG 17) – so that we, in the words of David Attenborough, “…can do what we humans are very good at – change the world”.
If you would like to join the SDG Network MeetUp in London, or in Milton Keynes, or your organisation would like to join us for an upcoming speaker panel, get in touch!
You can stay in touch with all upcoming events by registering here:
> London: https://www.meetup.com/SustainableDevelopmentCommunity/
> Milton Keynes: https://www.meetup.com/Sustainable-Development-Network-Milton-Keynes/