23. 12. 2013

Game-Changing Innovation In Asia

When I was doing my research for The World We Made I was delighted to unearth a wealth of highly innovative initiatives in China, India and South-East Asia. But I sort-of knew that I was just scraping the surface.

And that’s now been confirmed in spades by the latest Game-changer Report from WWF-UK.

I love these Reports – this is the fourth – as they have an uncanny knack of identifying brilliant people doing brilliant things to help shape a more sustainable world.

This one is all about Asia – focussing on ‘green innovation flows’ that go both ways: from Asia to the UK and from the UK to Asia. Based on research from Verdantix, Dax Lovegrove eloquently outlines the economic context (“Asia’s role in the global economy is growing phenomenally, with both China and India in the largest ten global economies and expanding faster than western economies. As such, Asia concurrently presents both potential disruption to western firms, in the shape of new Asian multinationals with innovative models and solutions, and opportunities for western firms in new markets.”). He then hunts down a fascinating cross-section of case studies (16 in all), and helps people interpret what the significance of all this might be.

Take regulation, for instance. We’ve pretty much given up on the idea of smart regulation in the EU driving technological innovation – the prevailing mood in Europe today is still profoundly sceptical about new regulatory interventions, and it takes forever to get sufficient consensus on new standards or rules. Not so in China. As the Report says:

“Pay close attention to the regulatory landscape which creates markets on an unprecedented scale. China in particular has created a favourable landscape for the development of its solar energy and electric vehicles markets. The scale of the investments and hence opportunities is astounding, as evidenced by China’s commitment to put 500,000 Electric Vehicles on the road by 2020, attracting US firms such as GE and Solaria on the solar side. Other examples of regulatory initiatives include the Chinese national government’s investment of $283 billion to tackle air pollution over the next five years.”

Beyond all that, you can pick and choose from the case studies. As someone who is carefully tracking advances in fibre recycling and closed-loop systems in clothing (largely through the work we do with M&S on its Shwopping initiative), I was fascinated to read about the latest steps taken by Teijin Fibers in China to accelerate its polyester recycling capability, and about the ‘upcycling partnership’ between Reet Aus (a brilliant fashion designer based in Estonia) with Beximco – the largest apparel company in Bangladesh.

It’s hugely inspiring to see what’s going on in this context – and a powerful counter to those who think that innovation for sustainability originates in the west and is then, in due course, exported to the east. As it happens, this Game-changer Report demonstrates that we’re in for some pretty disruptive shocks coming the other way – and the world will be a lot better for it.

The WWF-UK Green Game-Changers Report 2013 can be found at:
http://www.wwf.org.uk/what_we_do/working_with_business/green_game_changers/
 

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30. 12. 2013
Jason Hodoniczky

So great to hear, thanks for the link

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