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Global focus shifts to technologies as experts assess habitats


[FILES] UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres adjusts his tie as he arrives at the opening day of the 40th session of the United Nations (UN) Human Rights Council on February 25, 2019 in Geneva. (Photo by Fabrice COFFRINI / AFP)

Nigerian group named in UN top 20 innovative solutions
This morning all over the world, the global community pauses to take stock of the state of the living environments as it marks “World Habitat Day” amid growing concern over the management of cities’ man-made waste worldwide.

Closer home in Lagos today, housing experts will meet to deliberate on the theme: “Frontier Technologies as an innovative tool to transform waste to wealth” and reach a compromise on ways that new technologies can turn waste into a resource.

The United Nations designated the first Monday in every October as World Habitat Day. Each year, it features a new theme to focus global attention on the key contribution made by cities, towns and communities to sustainable urbanization and to ensuring a better quality of life for all. The Day is also reflects on the basic right of all to adequate shelter.

This year’s theme builds on last year’s Municipal Solid Waste Management and continues UN-Habitat’s Waste Wise Cities campaign that promotes sustainable waste management.

In a message, UN Secretary General António Guterres observed said: “Solutions begin with small steps individuals can take to alter the way our cities function. We must reduce the amount of waste we produce, and at the same time, start seeing it as a valuable resource that can be re-used and recycled, including for energy.

According to him, frontier technologies can offer better and cheaper answers to these daily challenges. For example, automation and artificial intelligence can help sort recyclables more efficiently.

“Sensors in smart packaging can help reduce food waste, while other innovative technologies are turning organic waste into renewable energy and compost. And new materials — such as advanced biodegradable plastics — can reduce environmental impact,” Guterres noted. He called for more investment to improve waste management. UN Secretary General added, “with cities in the lead and frontier technologies in widespread use, we can achieve make major advances on the road to sustainable urban development.”

A past president, Association of Town Planning Consultants of Nigeria (ATOPCON), Mr. Moses Ogunleye, said the issue of innovation, which is key in the theme, has not been embraced by Nigeria. He stated that effective waste management is key in ensuring good sanitation and job creation. “There is need for city managers to evolve good practices that will enhance the level of wellness of the citizenry.

“Put effective city manager at the front burner. A well managed city or town will bring about enhanced livability, improved economy, more employment and overall social development,” Ogunleye said.

In related development, Abuja-based group, Soso Care has been named among the United Nations top 20 innovative solutions that transform waste to wealth. About 230 teams from around the world submitted their projects that reflected exciting new projects along the entire spectrum of the waste collection and waste value chain.Soso is leading emerging micro mobile health insurance startup using innovative approach to bring health insurance to millions of people who never had it before by enabling them to pay for a health insurance with recyclable waste.

The group treats the donation of recyclable garbage as a resource and exchanges it for micro health insurance and food stamp points. This insurance-tech social enterprise transfers the money generated by the sale of the collected valuables into a health fund.


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