to the fifth issue of Southern Innovator (SI) magazine. Our fourth issue, on the theme of cities and urbanization, was launched in October 2013 at the Global South-south Development Expo in Nairobi, Kenya. It was a joy to meet so many innovators at the Expo, hear their stories and receive feedback on the magazine.
This fifth issue tackles the dilemma of how to continue to improve human development on a planet heading for a population of more than 9 billion by 2050 and with a finite quantity of physical resources. To achieve this, a radical new perspective is required; one that values all resources and sees ways to turn waste into wealth and to transform the way that things are made.
One solution gaining more advocates is the “cradle-to-cradle” philosophy. It goes beyond the “reduce, reuse and recycle” approach, instead calling for a revolution in how goods are made. It seeks to eliminate all waste in the life cycle of a product and to eradicate forever the idea that items can just be thrown away when they are used up, only to then pollute the planet with toxic waste.
Another discovery made while researching this issue is that it is possible to meet all the world’s energy needs using clean technologies and renewable resources. Tapping the geothermal resources bubbling and hissing under the ground could supply vast amounts of energy. One eco-city in China is getting 20 per cent of its energy from renewable sources and is using solar panels stretching 6 kilometres as a power source, along with wind turbines and ground heat energy. In short, energy does not have to be dirty and poisoning.
One of the vexing issues in creating a sustainable, new green economy is how to make it economically viable. Many try and fail, give up, and go back to doing things the conventional way. But, as the innovators in this issue show, it is possible to succeed by doing things differently, being persistent and placing good design at the centre of green solutions.
Buckminster Fuller, the twentieth-century futurist, architect, engineer and inventor, who believed in radical change through a design revolution, once said: “You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.” And this is what the innovators featured in this issue are doing.
In each issue of Southern Innovator, you will find contact information for further follow-up. We have attempted to provide the most current information, but given the quick pace of change in the global South, this is not always possible. We apologize in advance for any out-of-date information, including Internet links. We hope that this magazine makes a useful contribution to your work and helps to inspire all to act!