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Innovative ideas to save the planet (and East Asia Pacific region) from climate change

James I Davison's picture
David Manalo's organization wants to distribute unique floating generators to provide electricity to people in a remote part of the Philippines.

The theme of this year’s global Development Marketplace – a competitive grant program created by the World Bank – seems particularly relevant to an issue that is all too familiar to developing countries in the East Asia and Pacific region: adaptation to climate change. More than 1,700 submissions were received for the 2009 competition, vying for 25 grants of up to $200,000 each and proposing innovative ways to protect the poor, who are most vulnerable to the effects of climate change. This week, 100 finalists are visiting the Bank’s headquarters in Washington, DC, to share their ideas during the cleverly named event: “100 Ideas to Save the Planet.”

I spent some time yesterday walking around the marketplace and meeting a few of the 20 or so finalists representing East Asian and Pacific countries. (The grant winners will be announced Friday. Visit the DM blog for more coverage of this year’s event.) The people I talked to were passionate and eager to share their projects, which are focused on helping people deal with extreme weather that may be caused or worsened by climate change.

Some of the projects rely on an innovative device or machine. Like David Manalo, who told me his organization's project (pdf) wants to distribute car batteries and unique floating generators to provide electricity to people in a remote part of the Philippines. “This is a remote area, so they don’t have lights,” he said, pointing to a picture of the hydropower generator on his display. “It charges a battery to provide lights to the people.” The generator uses a river current to spin a turbine and charge a battery for people in communities. Yet, when heavy rain causes flooding, the generator can be easily removed to prevent it from being damaged.

Souly QuachAngKham, of Laos, explains a project that would teach locals how to respond to floods by evacuating to safe areas, storing and preserving food and filtering clean drinking water.

Another technological innovation would address a problem facing some people on the Pacific Island nation of Vanuatu. As the dry season has gotten longer in recent years, lack of drinking water is becoming a big issue, according to David Stein, who was representing an organization called VANREPA. His project (pdf), he told me, would utilize solar energy to turn seawater into clean drinking water for a community of about 48 households. “Fifteen percent of Vanuatu is dependant on rain water collection for drinking water,” Stein said. “This is something to [supplement] rainwater collection.”

Many of the projects would rely on training and education as a central part of their objective. One project in Laos hopes to help local communities learn how to mitigate the worst effects of annual flooding, said Souly QuachAngKham of the organization SEDA-Laos. This project (pdf), among other things, would teach locals how to respond to floods by evacuating to safe areas, storing and preserving food and filtering clean drinking water. “It’s about empowering a community to understand not just about climate change, but about survival and sustainability in their own community,” Souly explained.

Comments

Each of us should be able to creatively think of innovations which can address the problems such as climate change. It does not have to be a grand plan or project. Simple solutions can create an impact as big as complex projects. What is important is that it is able to make this world a better place.

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