April 13, 2009
The topic was “The Great Opportunity of Our Generation”
Some of the formatting is off in Scrib but mostly OK…
Here are some notes from the award ceremony following my presentation from Joe Chung. Congratulations to the winners! AquaPort, HeatSource and EGGTech were especially interesting to me.
Opening: Nick Fontaine
Keynote: Ryan Allis
$2.5k IDEAS Award Winners
Professor Thomas Byrne introduced
Vision Group (seeing machine)
Yi Fei Wu
(project image directly into eye, bypass distorting part)
Barbara Baker introduced
$5k IDEAS Award winner
sponsored by Baruch Family
Global Citizen Water Initiative
(place water in tube for 24 hrs to see if clean)
Allan Powell introduced
$5k IDEAS Award Winner
sponsored by The MIT COOP
Dr. Ishrat Hussain
Presented by Dean Stephen Lerman
$5k IDEAS Award Winner
sponsored by the office of dean of grad education/Yunus Challenge Winner
EGGTech Blandine Antoine Emmanuel Cassimatis Alla Jezmir
(providing battery for lighting to those in tanzania without electricity)
Yunus Challenge Winner
$7,500 IDEAS Award Winner
Hugo Van Zuuren
(microbial fuel cell solution for providing electricity)
Presented by Professor Thomas Byrne, MD
$7,500 IDEAS Award Winner
Aleksander and Anna Anita Leyfell
(electromechanical braille labeler)
Presented by Professor Michael Cima
Sponsored by the Lemelson – MIT Program
$7,500 IDEAS Award Winner
(encapsulating solar radiation through textile/material that provides heat during night)
Winner’s Retreat 2 Days at Endicott House
February 1, 2009
I write as my roommates watch the sci-fi movie Anti-Body through the amazing new Xbox/Netflix partnership in a cold and icy Chapel Hill…
This weekend I had the opportunity to speak at StartingBloc’s Greater New York Institute for Social Innovation at Yale University in New Haven. I had the chance to speak after Tom Szaky, the 27 year old CEO of TerraCycle, who is good work on upcycling waste into usable products.
In attendance were 150 of the smartest, most ambitious, and most caring individuals I’ve met, all from age 19 to 30. 25% were undergrads, 25% were grad students, and 50% were young professionals from firms like Goldman, JP Morgan, Acumen, Ashoka, McKinsey. They were all social entrepreneurs or future social entrepreneurs. If you’re under 30 and interested in social responsibility you should apply for their future Institutes in New York, Boston, or London.
StartingBloc has now reached 1000 fellows who have gone through their program. I first met their founder, the 27 year-old ebullient Kenyan Jo Opot last May in New York. She and their Director of Programs Taryn Miller-Stevens are examples of committed, driven, caring world changers.
I challenged the group to over the next 50 years, work together to create a world in which…
- There is no killing of humans on a mass scale (genocide or warfare);
- All humans have access to the basic human needs of clean water, nutritious food, shelter, and primary education;
- We end preventable diseases like malaria, TB, and measles; and
- We are environmentally sustainable
This challenge was based on the key simple principle from the Gates Foundation that all lives have equal value. I first shared the great challenges we face in the world including the most difficult economic news we’ve seen in our lifetimes, then the great opportunities (subsequent post on these coming soon) to frame the debate.
So, can we actually end genocide, warfare, starvation, and preventable disease in our lifetimes?
And can we actually provide accessible clean water, food, shelter, and primary education to every human in our lifetimes?
January 23, 2008
Our generation–those born in the 70s, 80s, and 90s–has a great opportunity ahead of ourselves. We have the ability for the first time in human history to eliminate extreme poverty within our lifetimes and ensure shared access to prosperity regardless of color, geography, or nationality. This possibility is worthy of a boisterous cheer.
By 2050, we’re projected to have 9.5B humans on this planet, however. Our planet will not allow a world of 9.5 billion humans living in the manner the average citizen of the Western world lives today, yet alone the 6.6 billion we have today.
Here inlies the great connection between sustainability and poverty. Unless we as a global society invest to develop the needed technologies to allow for humans to become sustainable in food, energy, and water production we will end up having less resources than are necessary for 9.5 billion people to live in a world without extreme poverty–let alone a world in which there is true shared prosperity, mutual security, and equality of opportunity. This is the greatest challenge of our lifetime as entrepreneurs, social entrepreneurs, scientists, technologists, and public servants. We must have sustainability to end poverty.
As a friend of mine from high school recent wrote me, “We must work toward the creation of a world where the standard of living, human rights, basic freedoms, and sustainability are all compatible.”
The two billion people that Goldman Sachs projects will be added to the global middle class by 2030 may never make it if sufficient food, energy, and water resources don’t exist. Dominic Wilson and Raluca Dragusanu, showed in a Goldman Sachs Economic Research paper published on July 8 called “The Expanding Middle: The Exploding World Middle Class and Falling Global Inequality” that close to 70 million people a year are entering the global middle class. They define this range as those with per capital income $6,000 and $30,000, purchasing power parity adjusted. They foresee shifts such as:
- Changing spending patterns.
- Increased pressure and competition for resources
- Greater threat of environmental degradation
- Rising environmental consciousness
- Political and social changes
Through one lens, we could have resource wars, strife, famine, and terrible droughts, melting ice caps, biodiversity extinctions, and rising sea levels.
Through the other lens, we could have a world of growing prosperity, security through commerce, and gained respect among cultures and religion, a world of ubiquitous broadband, a world of communications technology that will enable humans to gain a common language and understanding, a world in which dictators can no longer use scare propaganda to wedge the false division of us vs. them, a world in which there is access to education, healthcare, nutrition, and opportunity for all, a world in which entrepreneurship thrives and technology drives improves food production, water access, and non-carbon based energies, a world in which our identity as human is so much more important than what divides us.
We have come to a turning point in history. This is both the challenge of our lifetime, and the great opportunity of our lifetime. How can we enable the great economic and creative potential for all humans while ensuring we leave a world of environmental stability to our grandchildren?
Will we invest in the creation of a new Apollo Plan for Energy? We will create the Global Bill of Rights that provides access to education, healthcare, and nutrition? Or will we fall into a once great society as the benefit of inexpensive petroleum leaves? Will Malthus finally get his way?
Is growing economic prosperity possible in a world of declining resources and increased commodity prices? Does our lifetime end up being marked in history as the time of resource wars, increased poverty, and environmental damage? Or does it end up being marked by global collaboration, shared prosperity, and sustainability. We have a choice.
This is the greatest opportunity of our lifetime, and our greatest challenge.