Shaping the future with disruptive solutions

Shaping the future with disruptive solutions

Fatuma Abdulkadir Adan

What are the buzzwords of our time? What is it that really matters to today’s leaders, change makers and innovators? Words like ‘sustainability’ and ‘disruptive solutions’ might seem overused, but the urgency behind them is very real. Whether it’s natural disasters, climate change, lack of access to water or forced displacement, it is clear that we need to accelerate our journey towards sustainability. We won’t achieve this by adapting existing structures, but by crafting solutions that are radical, truly different, and maybe even counterintuitive.

Once you start looking for such sustainable and disruptive innovations, it is amazing how many you can find – and finding them is my role as Director of Awards Program at Katerva. Katerva’s mission it is to identify, evaluate and accelerate the efforts of disruptive innovators and entrepreneurs intent on improving the world. Our main vehicle is our annual awards program, for which we seek innovations from around the world across ten Awards Categories (which build on the Sustainable Development Goals). Here are just a few examples of these projects:

  • Gaia Dam –  an environmentally-friendly, low-cost dam that not only acts as flood wall but can also release proteins, acids, and enzymes that can act as natural fertiliser and pesticide. It can also be used as erosion and slope protection and generate hydropower.
  • Afforest for Future – a data analytics platform, powered by AI that identifies desert areas which can be greened within two years.
  • The Ocean CleanUp – sets out to extract plastic from the ocean by erecting floating barriers at central points where it gathers, e.g. Great Pacific Garbage Patch, one of the ocean’s five rotating currents.
  • Pukio – literally generates water from thin air by condensing vapour from the air, generating up to 1,000 litres of clean water per day.
  • Humanihut – foldable shelters that fit into shipping containers and can be set up in about 5 minutes, providing short, medium or long term housing for displaced peoples.

These projects tackle different problems, but their advocates share some core characteristics, such as:

  • an awareness and acceptance of the challenges we are facing;
  • an openness of mind and heart combined with curiosity and determination;
  • an experience of and belief in the beauty and value of diversity;
  • an ability and willingness to affect change.

Does this sound like you? From my experience of meeting Chevening Scholars and Alumni, I certainly think so! If you are involved in a sustainable, disruptive innovation or organisation, I would be delighted if you could submit it to the Katerva Awards program. While the submission deadline for 2019 has passed, we accept nominations throughout the year. Submitting your idea is simple: all you need to do is to complete our Nominee Candidate form which is available from our website.

If you have any further questions, please don’t hesitate to get in touch via email: bettina@katerva.net. I look forward to hearing from you!