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Sustainable Development Goal meets Innovation

In this age of change, we can hardly avoid two megatrends - sustainability and innovation.

What characterizes these two topics as megatrends is above all their long-term and far-reaching influence on society, the economy and other areas of life. Megatrends are generally highly relevant and have a major impact on the development of technologies, business models, social structures and behaviors.

This means that they are in no way a trend that will quickly disappear. They are topics that will change all our lives in the long term.


Megatrends are characterized by four key features in particular:

  1. Long-term nature: Megatrends extend over a longer period of time, often decades. They are not short-lived, but have a lasting effect on society.

  2. Broad impact: Megatrends influence different areas of life, such as the economy, technology, culture, politics and the environment. They have a far-reaching impact and can fundamentally change the way we live, work and interact.

  3. High relevance: Megatrends are highly relevant and have the potential to bring about major changes. They can create new opportunities and challenges and fundamentally change the way we do things.

  4. Acceptance: Megatrends are accepted and recognized by a broad section of the population. They are often seen as unstoppable and inevitable and influence the decisions of companies, governments and individuals.

So we are not talking about short-term trends here, but about changes that are transforming our society, the way we interact, our working environment, our demand and therefore also corporate strategies.

Both apply to sustainability and innovation in the sense of technological progress.

Both of these topics have great potential to bring about real change, especially when they interact.

We are facing extremely big challenges if we want to ensure the survival of our planet.


This requires radical changes.

If progress continues at the pace we have seen in recent years, we will no longer be talking about prevention, but only about adapting to the new living conditions.


Innovations offer the potential to accelerate the necessary sustainable change.


In this first article in the "SDG meets innovation" series, we will first examine each of these megatrends individually in the following sections before concluding by highlighting why a combination is unavoidable.

 

The commitment to sustainability - "The future we want"


In 2015, the member states of the United Nations (UN) adopted the 2030 Agenda. It is an action plan for sustainable development and consists of 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) that are to be achieved by 2030. The 2030 Agenda aims to end global poverty, reduce inequalities, combat climate change and promote sustainable development in economic, social and environmental terms.


The SDGs cover topics such as poverty reduction, education, health, gender equality, clean water and sanitation, renewable energy, sustainable cities and communities, climate action and much more.


The 2030 Agenda is a call for all countries to work together to create a sustainable future for all people and the planet.



FEA is also committed to these goals, which form the basis of our work - you can find out more here.


At first sight, it seems obvious why sustainability is a megatrend.


But where does sustainability become relevant and noticeable for us humans?


  1. Awareness of environmental problems: In recent decades, awareness of environmental problems such as climate change, resource scarcity and pollution has risen sharply. More and more people are recognizing the need to find sustainable solutions to combat these problems.

  2. Changing consumer habits: Consumers are becoming increasingly environmentally aware and look for sustainable products and services when making purchasing decisions. They prefer companies that are committed to environmental protection and social responsibility.

  3. Regulatory measures: Governments and international organizations have taken measures to promote sustainable business practices. This includes, for example, the introduction of environmental regulations, the promotion of renewable energies and the support of sustainable business models.

  4. Economic advantages: Sustainability also offers economic benefits. Companies that operate sustainably can reduce costs by implementing energy efficiency measures, reducing waste and using resources more efficiently. They can also benefit from increasing demand for sustainable products and services.

  5. Long-term perspective: Sustainability is a long-term approach that aims to meet the needs of today's generation without compromising the opportunities of future generations. Given the global challenges we face, sustainability is a necessary approach to ensure a future worth living.

Overall, sustainability is a megatrend because it is causing a change in consumer behavior due to increasing environmental problems.

 

Innovations


At the latest since ChatGPT was made accessible to the general public, it has become clear to everyone:

Innovations change our lives quickly and influentially:


Technological progress: Innovations are often closely linked to technological progress. New technologies enable us to work more efficiently, develop new products and services and improve our quality of life.


Economic growth: Innovations are an important driver of economic growth. The development of new products and services creates new markets and jobs. Companies that are innovative often have a competitive advantage and can strengthen their position on the market.


Social changes: Innovations have a major impact on society. They can help to solve social problems, improve the quality of life and create new opportunities for education, healthcare and communication.


Sustainability: Innovations play an important role in tackling global challenges such as climate change and resource scarcity. Innovative solutions allow us to use energy and resources more efficiently and develop more environmentally friendly alternatives. We go into this in more detail in the last section.


Changing the world of work: innovations are also changing the way we work. New technologies allow us to be more flexible, work remotely and develop new working models.


Overall, innovations are a megatrend because they are a driving force for change in various areas and can fundamentally change the way we live, work and interact.

 

Technologies for sustainable development


Innovation and technological progress can help achieve the UN Sustainable Development Goals by providing new solutions and approaches to address the challenges associated with these goals. Here are some reasons why innovation and technological progress can help:


Increased efficiency: Technological innovations can make existing processes and systems more efficient. This can help to save resources and increase productivity, which in turn leads to a more sustainable use of resources.


Renewable energies: Technological progress has helped to improve the efficiency and cost-effectiveness of renewable energies such as solar energy, wind energy and hydropower. Ultimately, these innovations have accelerated the transition to a more sustainable energy supply and reduced greenhouse gas emissions.


Environmental protection: Innovations can help to reduce environmental pollution and improve environmental quality. For example, technological advances in waste management have helped to make recycling and reuse processes more efficient and reduce the use of landfill sites.


Access to education and information: Technological progress has significantly improved access to education and information. Through the use of technology, educational content and information can be made more accessible, especially in remote areas or for disadvantaged population groups. This contributes to achieving the goal of inclusive and equitable education for all.


Healthcare: Technological innovations have improved healthcare and facilitated access to medical care in remote areas.

 

Generating a real impact as a social business:

Africa GreenTec


The social business Africa GreenTec shows how to deliver real added value, drive sustainable development and use innovative technologies in the process.


But Africa GreenTec goes even further, combining capitalism and social commitment. A real drive to make development attractive, sustainable and social.


Business model

"Solartainers" to produce renewable solar energy to supply villages in various African countries, such as Mali, with electricity.

Energy is the basis for economic activities and thus the source for generating independent income. Africa GreenTec's actions are aimed at increasing the number of local small businesses and thus ensuring people's income and thus the independent supply and maintenance of living standards.


The electricity generated is sold to the residents of the village and not provided free of charge, which allows the company to create a more level playing field with the residents.


In addition to providing the solar containers, cooling systems and drinking water treatment systems are made available to the people on the basis of the electricity supply.

The people living in the village are also trained in energy efficiency and renewable energies.


Financing

Africa GreenTec's financing model is based on various elements.

The company sought investors in two different crowd funding rounds, including private investors, who can thus participate in the company.


Larger project financing is handled via the C&I segment (Commercial & Industrial Loan), which involves institutional investors as well as private investors.


If you would like to find out more about Africa GreenTec and its projects, take a look at the website.


In this series, we will continue to introduce you to new technologies and companies whose work creates real added value through technology.







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