The SDG talents arriving on Saturday August 12th are accommodated in downtown Copenhagen and meet up in the vibrant Meatpacking District for an organic street food dinner followed by drinks and music.
UNLEASH kicks off on Sunday August 13th at the Train Workshop, a raw, industrial space where participants enjoy a day of inspirational speakers, team activities and initial work on SDG solutions. Talents take part in interactives sessions with innovative companies, experts and start-ups.
In Copenhagen, the talents explore a range of SDG-hotspots around the city, before meeting at City Hall where the Lord Mayor sends the talents off to visit UNLEASH company partners.
The talents go through a facilitated process of innovation, uniquely tailored by UNLEASH. They form teams to explore real-life challenges within the 7 themes from multiple angles, before defining specific problems and coming up with preliminary solutions. These are tested with leading experts and company partners, then refined, and ultimately presented to peers and panels of judges and mentors.
The SDG Innovation Challenge takes place at 10 Folk High Schools, unique learning institutions located in the Danish countryside. Folk High Schools focus on personal development, open collaboration, and hands-on learning, and these approaches inform the SDG problem-solving to unlock new perspectives.
At the end of this rapid-fire innovation process, each team of Talents have a draft SDG solution, implementation plan, and presentation – getting them ready for the final stage in Aarhus!
The culmination of the UNLEASH Innovation Lab takes place across 3 days in Aarhus, the European Capital of Culture 2017. In Aarhus, all talents gather, take stock of their progress so far together with inspiring speakers, before the final sprint on SDG solutions.
All teams present their solutions to peers, experts, investors and experts within their field. A number of teams advance to present their solutions in the Dragons’ Den style, followed by a massive party for all talents.
On Monday August 21st, all talents and UNLEASH partners come together for a big award show where innovators and thought leaders celebrate their work and launch the global UNLEASH movement.
Each year UNLEASH works with different themes. This year seven themes have been chosen and under each theme there will be a number of insights for the SDG Talents to work on. Read more about the themes here.
WATER TREATMENT FACILITIES: Water and waste water treatment facilities use 2-4% of the total electricity used in the US. While electric utilities have been focusing efforts to improve efficiency and provide grid services, water and waste water treatment utilities have been disconnected from these efforts. Water utilities’ lack of a relationship with electric utilities, coupled with low financial incentives for providing grid services, has limited the effort to improve energy efficiency.
WATER ACCESS: More than 50% of the 663 million people worldwide who lack access to safe water live in Sub-Saharan Africa, predominantly in rural areas. This leads to poor health due to various water-related illnesses. However, access alone is not enough to guarantee better health. Insufficient hygienic practices can lead to the contamination of safe water after it leaves the water point, making it unsafe to drink.
WASTE AND SPOILAGE: About 30% the food produced every year, or approximately 1.3 billion tones, is lost or wasted, with fruits and vegetables having the highest wastage rates. In industrialized countries, consumers and retailers waste an estimated 222 million tons of food each year, while in developing countries the wastage often comes during production.
NUTRITION AND FUNCTIONAL FOODS: While most developing countries have the raw materials to produce functional foods both for domestic consumption and international exporting, they lack a clear regulatory framework for production, quality control, sales, and certification of these “hybrid” food products. Meanwhile, despite nutritional benefits, no generalizations about consumer choices regarding functional food consumption have been determined.
RENEWABLE ENERGY: If all planned coal plants in six countries – China, India, Vietnam, Indonesia, the Philippines and Pakistan – are built, they would over their lifespan account for “almost all” of the global carbon budget that the world cannot exceed if it is to meet the 2°C goal. While the share of coal in China’s energy mix will decrease up to 2030, Vietnam’s will almost double.
FINANCING: Over 30,000 solar-powered irrigation units were installed in India 2015-2016, more than doubling the previously installed capacity. Diesel pumps for irrigation are still widely used and substituting 50% of the country’s diesel units with solar alternatives would require loans of approx. US$15 billion.
RESPONSIBLE SUPPLY CHAIN: Corporations with global supply chains have the potential to generate growth, employment and skill development through their operations and sourcing. However, cross-country production, short lead times, and short-term buyer-supplier relationships can make supply chain visibility difficult, both for internal and external purposes. This reduced supply chain visibility creates challenges for corporations to meet their responsibilities within human rights, labour rights and the environment.
WATER-USE: For the fashion industry, access to water is essential for cotton cultivation, textile dyeing and finishing. Every kilogram of textiles requires on average 11,000 litres of water throughout the production cycle, and in a world of scarce resources, where textile production is often located in water scarce regions, this presents a growing issue that needs to be addressed.
ACCESS TO EDUCATION: Despite significant progress since 2000, an estimated 59 million children of primary school age and 65 million adolescents of lower secondary school age – of whom girls remain a majority – were still out of school in 2013. Poverty continues to be one of the most significant factors when it comes to access and inclusion and exacerbates gender gaps. The problem of access is even greater for learners with disabilities and for displaced communities.
LITERACY AND SKILLS: Many school children are not acquiring basic knowledge and skills. More than 50% of the 250 million primary-school-aged children who have spent at least four years in school, cannot read, write or count well enough to meet minimum learning standards. There is also a globally acknowledged skills gap for STEM related jobs.
URBAN PLANNING: By 2050, urban areas will account for 70-75% of the world’s population equaling 3 billion more people than today. 60% of the areas expected to be urban by 2030 have yet to be built. As existing cities sprawl, people move to the urban fringe without services, amenities and infrastructure are largely due to the absence of urban planning strategies and legislation at the national or sub-national level.
URBAN MOBILITY: Automobile sales are expected to increase from 70 million a year to 125 million by 2025 where more than half of them will be bought in cities. The result of following this trajectory can lead to a doubling of the current global fleet of 1.2 billion cars by 2030. Meanwhile, congestion is already close to unbearable in many cities and can cost as much as 2-4% of national GDP, by measures such as lost time, wasted fuel, and increased cost of doing business.
MEDICAL SUPPLY CHAINS: An estimated US$2 billion worth of unexpired medications discarded at long-term care facilities in the US, while at the same time one in four adults can’t afford prescriptions.Meanwhile, an estimated 40% of the 1 million health centers in developing countries are stocked out of supplies or medications.
CONNECTIVITY: Remote patient monitoring, telehealth and electronic medical records constitute some of the largest market opportunities related to delivering on the Sustainable Development Goals, in developing as well as developed countries. The spread of eHealth solutions intensifies the challenge of interoperability, across platforms, devices, apps and databases.
Every year until the culmination of the 2030 Agenda UNLEASH will be held in a new country. The SDGs will be explored through the lens of the host country, using local ways of living, thinking and working to ignite discussion and unlock new perspectives.
In Denmark, the tradition of Folk High Schools is used to gain new ideas for learning, ideation, and development of business plans and new ways of working together.
Folk High Schools are learning institutions focusing on personal development, community and open collaboration. They offer immersive experiences to students of all ages based on values such as democratic debate, practical learning and a citizen-to-citizen approach. Ten Danish Folk High Schools, all situated in the countryside, will host the talents in 2017 and provide the optimal setting for the participants to rethink existing approaches and produce breakthrough solutions.
Next year a new location and a new lens.