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Setting big goals requires bold solutions

The United Nations Solutions Summit was held in New York in September where BioCarbon presented with 13 other teams chosen from over 800 proposals.

The United Nations Assembly united in New York from 25 – 27 September to adopt the Sustainability Development Goals (SDGs), the new goals for the next 15 years after the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) were set in 2000.

Heads of State and Government, and High Representatives from 193 countries recognized the importance of the issues and the critical importance of the goals set to address these issues. Their commitment between now and 2030 is to “to end poverty and hunger everywhere; to combat inequalities within and among countries; to build peaceful, just and inclusive societies; to protect human rights and promote gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls; and to ensure the lasting protection of the planet and its natural resources. We resolve also to create conditions for sustainable, inclusive and sustained economic growth, shared prosperity and decent work for all, taking into account different levels of national development and capacities.

Dr Susan Graham presenting BioCarbon Engineering to the United Nations Solutions Summit, New York.

To shed some light on how the world might achieve these goals, 14 teams were chosen from over 800 proposals to present at the United Nations. Megan Smith, the CTO of the White House, coordinated the event calling it the ‘Solutions Summit’ and opened the night saying “We all know that there’s nothing in the world that’s ever been invented without the person that invented it, and the team that did that, or the person or the team who scaled it, or the collaborative group that came together, and all the cross functionality to make it run at scale, and so we really wanted to celebrate people today. That’s what this is really about, the innovators of our planet.

Dr Susan Graham presenting the BioCarbon Engineering solution at the United Nations Solutions Summit, New York, 2015.

Ambassador Kamau of Kenya, the co-MC for the evening remarked, “It’s really amazing … within hours of having had [the SDGs] adopted by the heads of state, we are already in the solutions mode… This is about the solution matrix, it’s about how we put together the governments, the civil society, the private sector and the individuals to make it work. It’s about the connectors, it’s about the solvers, it’s about the solutions.

Megan Smith introduced BioCarbon saying “they have my favourite use of flying things!” Susan Graham presented BioCarbon Engineering to the audience of policy makers, investors, and industry leaders, leaving them with keen interest to see how they could engage and help in our mission.

The atmosphere of the room was one of optimism in innovation and entrepreneurship, backed by people working at a global scale and with connections that could effect real change in each of the projects. This atmosphere was taken advantage of following the presentations with a brainstorming session. All the delegates were tasked with pretending that they were on one of the teams, and seeing how they could help, what introductions they could make, what ideas they could bring to the table.

The event was summed up by Megan Smith saying, “we have solution makers from all 6 continents, there are women and men here who are just astonishing with their ideas. We’ve seen ideas of flying drones to plant more than a billion trees a year, we’ve seen ideas around cold storage that would work in the market place that is quite awesome, we’ve seen ideas around biology and flies that could solve problems for Cassava, and many, many more.

UN Solutions Summit: Lauren Fletcher, CEO of BioCarbon Engineering; Dr Susan Graham, Senior Engineer of BioCarbon Engineering; Megan Smith, CTO of the White House.

Looking beyond the room, UN Special Advisor Amina Mohammed reflected on the event “I think that the wealth of what you shared today has also, I hope, engaged young people. We keep saying that the young people are the torch bearers. I hope it will be intergenerational, that we will have another partnership. Between those of us that have got lots of experience and those that are coming on, and we don’t need to wait for them to have the experience. And innovation is the best place to start that. Everything that has happened today is wonderful, but it needs to happen everywhere for everyone.” BioCarbon is looking to inspire a generation to have the confidence to know that no challenge is too big to tackle.

Gizmodo interviewed the BioCabon team at the networking event following the presentations, and the event was reviewed in a blog from the White House.

Photo credits: John Werner and Diane Bondareff
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