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Nine entrepreneurs have been selected by a sustainable startup initiative launched by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) for their green business solutions that will help the continent “build back better” after the coronavirus pandemic. The winners hailing from Bhutan, India, Pakistan, Thailand, Vietnam and China will each receive US$10,000 in funding alongside business mentoring and training to scale-up their innovative solutions.
Winners of the Asia-Pacific Low Carbon Lifestyles Challenge this year are advancing different sustainable business solutions, from low-carbon energy sources to waste prevention and alternative transport. The UNEP says that the entrepreneurs selected are providing feasible solutions that will help the Asia region recover from the pandemic in an eco-friendly way, ensuring greater resilience to the most urgent crises facing the planet – the climate emergency.
“Lessons learned from the management of this crisis provide an opportunity to both revisit our relationship with nature and rebuild a more environmentally responsible economy,” said Dechen Tsering, UNEP’s Asia-Pacific regional director.
“Entrepreneurs in Asia stand ready with innovative business solutions that work for economic recovery and the environment. The Asia Pacific Low Carbon Lifestyles Challenge will help them overcome systemic barriers that innovations usually face, with grants, partnerships, training and visibility.”
In the category of plastic pollution prevention, Sissi Chao from China was awarded for her startup REMAKEHUB, which works with various nonprofits, fishing companies and fashion brands to collect discarded “ghost nets” for making renewable plastic products in eyewear, fashion and furniture. Rikesh Gurung, the founder of The Green Road in Bhutan, also won the prize for recovering over 400 tonnes of landfill and industrial waste into road construction materials, paving over 65 kilometres of road. Vietnam’s Linh Le, who created the reusable share cup system AYA Cup was selected as well for her profit-making anti-single-use plastic initiative.
For the second category of low-carbon energy solutions, electrical engineer Osama bin Shakeel in Pakistan was recognised for founding ENENT, a startup that has built a solid-state load balancer that cuts the carbon footprint of buildings while saving a quarter of electricity bills for households. Vietnam’s Tuan Tran, meanwhile, created Airiot, which minimises air conditioning use in the hospitality markets, in the process driving down associated carbon emissions. Kaikai Yang from China was also awarded in this group for Wattime, a blockchain-powered platform that connects clean energy producers and consumers in rural areas in the country.
Finally, the UNEP selected Asian entrepreneurs in the low-carbon mobility sector. Thailand’s Pichayanun Benjaboonyapisut was featured for his company CyFai, which has been creating solar-powered scooters, e-bikes and vehicle charging stations across the country. Ajay Singh’s Nimray Network is another renewable energy powered transportation solution that helps to bring electric mobility to India’s roads, reducing both carbon emissions and rampant roadside air pollution. The final winner, Earth Choohut from Thailand, has created electric bike company ETRAN, which are also made from 40% bioplastics.
Earlier this month, mayors from many of the world’s leading cities – from Hong Kong to New York – all agreed that the world cannot afford to return to the business-as-usual approach after the Covid-19 pandemic, agreeing to place equality and climate resilience at the forefront of its recovery plan.
In order to prevent yet another public health crisis and avert climate disasters, which scientists have repeatedly warned will become ever more frequent, it is vital that countries use the “window of opportunity” ushered by the coronavirus to support much needed circular economy solutions, such as those presented by these Asian entrepreneurs.
Lead image courtesy of Goexplorer.org.