Categories
Archive Blogroll

South–South Cooperation For Cities In Asia

Published: July 2014

Publisher: Southasiadisasters.net

Issue No. 114, July 2014

Theme: Towards Urban Resilience

The coming wave of technological innovations aimed at global South cities will dominate civic debates whether people wish it to or not. Already, futuristic, 21st-century cities are being built around Asia from scratch. I had the privilege of visiting a couple of them in 2012 while researching the fourth issue of our magazine, Southern Innovator (  h t t p : / / w w w . s c r i b d . c o m / SouthernInnovator). Each city had a different focus for its construction – one was seeking to be an “eco-city” and the other one called itself a “smart city,” focused on becoming a regional business and technology hub. Both aimed to use the latest information technologies to make the way Asian cities operate on a day-to-day basis smarter – and greener.

Large information technology companies – including India’s Infosys (infosys.com) – have their sights set on selling all sorts of technological solutions to common problems of urban living. This aspiring revolution is built on two foundations: One is the Internet of Things – in which everyday objects are connected to the
Internet via microchips. The other is Big Data, the vast quantities of data being generated by all the mobile phones and other electronic devices people use these days.

Much of this new technology will be manufactured in Asia, and not just that – it will also be developed and designed in Asia, often to meet the challenges of urban Asia.

By their nature, cities are fluid places. People come and go for work and pleasure, and successful cities are magnets for people of all backgrounds seeking new opportunities. This fluidity puts stress on cities and leads to the constant complaints familiar to any urban dweller – inadequate transport, traffic jams, air pollution, poor housing, and a high cost of living.

If handled well and with imagination, new information technologies can ensure Asian cities do more than pay lip service to aspirations to improve human development. They can make cities resilient places – able to bounce back from disasters, whether man made or natural.

During the late 1990s, I saw first-hand the pressures placed on one Asian city, Mongolia’s capital, Ulaanbaatar. The country endured the worst peacetime economic collapse since World War II while confronting the wrenching social and economic stresses of switching from a command economy during Communism to a free-market democracy. The city’s population grew quickly as rural economies collapsed and poverty shot upwards. I can only imagine now how the response could have been different with the technologies available today.

In 2010, I interviewed one of the editors of the Cities for All book, Charlotte Mathivet (http://globalurbanist.com/2010/08/24/cities-for-all-shows-how-the-worldspoor-are-building-ties-across-theglobal-
south), and she stressed the importance of South-South cooperation to ensuring cities are good places to live for everyone.

“A lot of social initiatives based on the right to the city are coming from these ‘new cities of the South,'” Mathivet said. “The book highlights original social initiatives: protests and organizing of the urban poor, such as the pavement dwellers’ movements in Mumbai where people with nothing, living on the pavements of a very big city, organise themselves to struggle for their collective rights, just as the park dwellers did in Osaka.”

Recently, an Indian restaurant uploaded to the Internet a video of what it claimed to be the first drone delivering a pizza in an Indian city. While this may or may not be a practical solution to traffic congestion, the subsequent negative fallout – angry police and public officials – from this use of new technology highlights the promise
and perils of innovating in the real world of Asian cities (http:/
/www.bbc.co.uk/news/
b l o g s – n e w s – f r o m –
elsewhere-27537120).

Micro electronics are becoming cheaper and more powerful by the month. Small businesses armed with a only laptop computer, access to the Internet and/or mobile phone networks, and cloud computing services, can offer very powerful business and public services solutions. And sharing solutions across the global South via information technologies has never been easier.

The U.S. Pentagon published various reports and studies in the 2000s forecasting a dark future for cities in the global South. As author Mike Davis revealed in his seminal work, Planet of Slums (http://www.amazon.com/exec/obido/ASIN/1844670228/nationbooks08), the Pentagon saw the developing world’s cities as the “battlespace of the twenty-first century.” It imagined sprawling, crime ridden cities full of poverty and slums and needing tiny drones and robots darting back and forth, keeping an eye on everything and suppressing unrest. This threat-based view of future cities is one to be avoided. It is possible, through the right application of quick solutions to the challenges that arise as cities grow, to turn to cooperation across the cities of the global South to avoid this pessimistic fate.


– David South, Editor,
United Nations Office for
South-South Cooperation
(UNOSSC), UK

https://reliefweb.int/report/india/southasiadisastersnet-issue-no114-july-2014-towards-urban-resilience

Southern Innovator’s fifth issue on Waste and Recycling (https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=6ILdAgAAQBAJ&dq=southern+innovator&source=gbs_navlinks_s), shows how innovators are tackling the challenge of improving human development on a planet with finite resources and a growing population.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

ORCID iD: https://orcid.org/0000-0001-5311-1052.

© David South Consulting 2021

Categories
Archive Blogroll

Lima To Delhi: What Can Be Learned On Urban Resilience?

Published: March 2015

Publisher: Southasiadisasters.net

Issue No. 128, March 2015

Theme: Challenges of Urban Resilience in India

Fast-growing cities and urban areas in the global South can be vulnerable because they lack the web of structures and institutions that enable more long-established cities to mitigate risks and, when a disaster does strike, to bounce back quickly.
But thanks to many new technologies, and some smart new thinking, it is possible to bring resilience to even the poorest and most deprived urban communities.

The essence of resilience is to build into plans and daily activities a
community’s ability to weather any disaster, small or large. All cities, rich or poor, can experience a disaster of some sort, be it weather, civil unrest, war, earthquakes, shortages, or economic, financial and health crises. New technologies make it possible for all cities, no matter how poor and overcrowded, to build in urban resilience. The ubiquity of mobile phones introduces a powerful city and urban planning tool. Mapping chaotic and unplanned areas is already underway in many cities of the global South (in Brazil and Kenya for example (http://tinyurl.com/qgba8kb).

Impressively, innovators in the South are using affordable microelectronics in the form of mobile phones and laptops to gather data and map it. This computing capability was once the sole domain of big information technology companies such as IBM. Now, a single laptop computer combined with a smartphone equipped with the right software can manage a large urban area, a task that once required rooms full of computers. The data can then be used to manage growth today and re-build after a disaster. Any excuse not to be resilient has been wiped out with this technological leap.

But how to deal with the common reality of feeling overwhelmed by the many obstacles to rational planning and building for urban growth in the South? Innovators have stepped in to take matters into their own hands with simple construction technologies as the solution. One example is the Moladi system of recycled plastic moulds (moladi.net). Anybody can master this simple building technique, as the mortar-filled moulds are designed to fit easily together to construct an earthquake-resistant, beautiful home.

This approach has the advantage of bypassing the failings of authorities to enforce building codes and standards in poor, urban communities, creating safer places to live and preventing the growth of unregulated shanty towns at risk to fire and earthquakes.

Others have found social ways to organize people, even in the most desperate of conditions, providing services and laying down the groundwork for an upgrading of an urban area to improve living conditions and long-term opportunities. The
concept of ‘cities for all’ has inspired many to re-energize civic organizations and networking in poor areas to ensure they are not left out of economic growth. In Colombia, a famous example of this is the escalator in the city of Medellin, which connects a hillside slum to the centre of the city, opening up economic opportunities to all (http://tinyurl.com/nm47d3u).

Still more exciting, new technologies are in the works to simplify construction of major infrastructure and new buildings. A future city will be able to gather extensive data on an expanding urban area, make detailed development plans with architects and engineers, and then have robots and 3D fabricating machines quickly lay down infrastructure and erect buildings. Sounds far-fetched?
Well, in China one company recently used a 3D machine to make 10 houses
in a single day (http://www.yhbm.com/index.aspx).

An infographic from Southern Innovator’s fourth issue (http://
tinyurl.com/m9vfwur) shows 10 ways any urban area – either planned or unplanned – can build in resilience. All are proven approaches from cities
in the global South.

Southern Innovator’s upcoming sixth issue will explore the interplay
of science, technology and innovation in the global South and how people are making the most of 21st century advances to increase wealth and improve human
development. Hopefully, all of this innovation will lead to more resilient cities in the future!


– David South,
Editor, Southern Innovator, UNOSSC

www.davidsouthconsulting.com

https://www.preventionweb.net/publication/challenges-urban-resilience-india

Southern Innovator’s first web portal archiving stories from the e-newsletter Development Challenges, South-South Solutions and Southern Innovator Magazine.
Archived issues of Southern Innovator Magazine can be downloaded from the web portal of the United Nations Office for South-South Cooperation (UNOSSC).

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

ORCID iD: https://orcid.org/0000-0001-5311-1052.

© David South Consulting 2021

Categories
Archive Blogroll

Innovations In Green Economy: Top Three Agenda

By David South

southasiadiasters.net December 2013

The transition to a green economy has reached a crossroads: while multilateral global initiatives have been long-running and complex, the idea of a green economy still seems fragile and achieving it far from certain. In the face of the ravages of the global economic crisis that has raged since 2007/2008, countries are now trying to roll back their green pledges or slow the pace of transition. 

This exposes a dilemma: a perception that a green economy is in conflict with economic growth, prosperity and the advance of human development, particularly in developing countries seeking to make rapid gains in reducing poverty and building a middle class, consumer society. 

Three things need to be foremost in the minds of those who care about creating a global green economy in the 21st century: innovation in design, in market prices and in business models. I think these three factors will be the deciding elements in whether green technologies are taken up quickly and used by large numbers of people to improve their lives. 

The green option needs to always be the more appealing, cheaper option that also improves living standards. Happily, many people are doing this all around the world – you just may not have heard of them yet (unless you are reading Southern Innovator magazine that is). 

As editor of the magazine Southern Innovator since 2011, I have had the privilege to meet, interview and see first-hand green economy innovators across the global South and profile them in the magazine. What has stood out for me is this: the ones who have achieved sustainable success have put a great deal of effort into design – how the technology is made, what it looks like and how it is used, how efficiently it is made and distributed – while also thinking through the business case for their work and how to make it appealing to others. 

We have tried to apply this thinking to the magazine as well, by using clear and modern design with bright, eye-pleasing colours, and by choosing to use 100 per cent renewable energy (much of it from geothermal sources) for the magazine’s design and layout and to have it printed on paper from sustainable forest sources. 

The fourth issue of Southern Innovator (www.southerninnovator.org), on cities and urbanization, launched in October at the Global South-South Development Expo 2013 in Nairobi, Kenya. It profiles many practical initiatives and innovators that are currently building green homes, communities and even whole cities. The magazine’s fifth issue will focus on the theme of waste and recycling and hopes to be a one-stop source of inspiration to better use the finite resources of planet earth.

– David South, Editor, Southern Innovator
United Nations Office for South-South Cooperation (UNOSSC)

Southern Innovator Issue 1: https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=Q1O54YSE2BgC&dq=southern+innovator&source=gbs_navlinks_s

Southern Innovator Issue 2: https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=Ty0N969dcssC&dq=southern+innovator&source=gbs_navlinks_s

Southern Innovator Issue 3: https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=AQNt4YmhZagC&dq=southern+innovator&source=gbs_navlinks_s

Southern Innovator Issue 4: https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=9T_n2tA7l4EC&dq=southern+innovator&source=gbs_navlinks_s

Southern Innovator Issue 5: https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=6ILdAgAAQBAJ&dq=southern+innovator&source=gbs_navlinks_s

Creative Commons License

This work is licensed under a
Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.

ORCID iD: https://orcid.org/0000-0001-5311-1052.

© David South Consulting 2021

Categories
Archive

Civet Cat Coffee Brews Filipino Opportunity

By David South, Development Challenges, South-South Solutions

SOUTH-SOUTH CASE STUDY 

In the Philippines, one animal’s call of nature has become a business opportunity.

The civet cat, a member of the mongoose family, ingests the fruit of coffee plants, and expels the beans. This has created an unexpected by-product – a prized beverage for the world’s savvy coffee drinkers seeking the next taste sensation. The partially digested coffee beans are gathered from the faeces of the cat and used to make a much-coveted, smooth-flavoured cup of coffee.

It is a good example of how value can be added to a product, in this case coffee beans, producing a substantially higher income. The coffee is startlingly expensive: 50 grams cost US $70, 100 grams US $90, and 1 kilogram is a whopping US $870. The coffee is a blend of Arabica, Liberica and Exelsa beans, all of which have passed through the civet cats.

The highly prized coffee is driving a growing market for these rare beans around the world. But as demand rises, it becomes clear it is a market needing quality control and ethical practices.

One business that is trying to do this is Coffee Alamid (www.arengga.com), based in Las Pinas in the Philippines. It bills the coffee as the “World’s Rarest Brew. The Philippines’ Pride.”

Coffee Alamid’s founders, Basil and Vie Reyes, call themselves “coffee entrepreneurs” who started in the business from scratch.

“When we started Cafe Alamid, we were not even coffee drinkers,” they explain on the company’s website. “We didn’t know anything about coffee at all!”

Experienced in making Arengga vinegar (http://www.arengga.com/index.php/arengga-pinnata-its-not-just-a-vinegar.mpc), they discovered the civet cats that lived among the sugar palm trees used for making the vinegar. They did some research and were inspired by the Kopi Luwak, the Indonesian variety of civet cat coffee and wondered why they couldn’t do the same thing in the Philippines.

They consulted with the local forest-dwellers of Indang, Cavite and Batangas, who confirmed they gathered the civet cat droppings to make into coffee, part for personal consumption, with the rest sold in local markets. Gathering the civet droppings provides an income to the forest residents, who collect an average of one kilogram a day.

Some were sceptical of the idea: why bother with such a time-consuming product? But the Reyeses were inspired by the success of civet coffee in Indonesia and it inspired them to try it in the Philippines. They see themselves as “enlightened entrepreneurs” who believe in marrying business with social development.

The coffee is made from the wild civet cat droppings harvested from the forest floors of mountains in Malarayat, Lipa, Batangas and Mount Matutum, General Santos and South Cotabato in the Philippines. The beans are roasted and exported to Japan, Taiwan, Korea, Australia, the United States and Italy. The company produces between 1 and 1.5 tons of beans a year.

A proud moment for the business was becoming the first Filipino firm to participate in the Tea and Coffee World Cup in Geneva, Switzerland in 2007.

The brand’s name, Alamid, is the local name for the civet cat (Paradoxorus Philippinensis). It belongs to the mongoose family and forages for food at night, eating the ripest and sweetest coffee cherries during the coffee season.

By morning the civet cats excrete the undigested beans. While inside the cat’s stomach, enzymes and stomach acids go to work on the beans, altering their structure. The beans ‘ferment’ in the cat’s stomach, a process that has been analyzed by Dr. Massimo Marcone, a scientist from Canada’s University of Guelph.

Marcone traveled to Ethiopia and Indonesia in 2003 to collect the rare coffee beans. He found the beans’ taste – described as “earthy, musty, syrupy, smooth and rich with jungle and chocolate undertones” – was due to the lack of protein in the bean.

“The civet beans are lower in total protein, indicating that during digestion, proteins are being broken down and are also leaked out of the bean,” Marcone told the Luwak Kopi website. “Since proteins are what make coffee bitter during the roasting process, the lower levels of proteins decrease the bitterness of Kopi Luwak coffee.”

“Civet beans are typically extensively washed under running water after collection, which dislodges bacteria,” he said.

Marcone published his research into the beans in the paper “Composition and properties of Indonesian palm civet coffee (Kopi Luwak) and Ethiopian civet coffee.” (http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0963996904001309)

The beans are greenish-brown when they come out in the cat faeces. Marcone found the process in the civet cat removes some of the caffeine, giving a strong cup of coffee less kick; this also makes the flavour smoother.

Supply is tight and this has led to some people forging the coffee or using unethical practices to get their hands on the beans. It is a business that needs to be run in an ethical way to ensure the rich profits are shared with everyone involved.

Marcone warns against imitations. “About 42 percent of all the kopi luwaks that are presently on sale are either adulterated or complete fakes, unfortunately,” he told the Los Angeles Times.

Coffee Alamid’s parent company, Bote Central, started as a family-owned company in 2002, with the idea of using agro-forestry products to create sustainable livelihoods and help preserve the environment. It wanted to introduce Fair Trade principles to the Philippines coffee industry.

Structurally, the company uses community roasting business units (CRBU) across the Philippines, in particular the countryside, to improve the way coffee is sold and make it more profitable for local economies. There are currently 12 such units, and more are planned. The company has put together a guide book on best practice for harvesting Arabica coffee beans based on their first-hand experience. It also explains how they maintain quality control (http://www.scribd.com/doc/19991462/Production-Guide-for-Arabica-Coffee-by-Bote-Central-Inc-Maker-of-Coffee-Alamid).

The company deals directly with farmers to avoid middlemen gouging profits, and tries to use technology to make the business more efficient and sustainable.

To keep quality improving, the company has also produced a manual on how to grow and harvest Arabica coffee beans. It is designed to tackle the practical realities of coffee production and show how to improve current methods to produce a better-quality bean. This is critical for the overall business as competition is fierce and quality has to constantly be improved.

Coffee Alamid has successfully positioned itself as a high-end, high-cost product. It is sold by Japan Airlines and by department stores in Japan and specialty coffee shops around the world.

Civet cat coffee continues to develop new fans. In Britain, the Birmingham-based Urban Coffee Company (http://www.urbancoffee.co.uk) has started selling the coffee.

‘It’s actually really nice,” sales manager Mark Bridgens told the Daily Mail newspaper. “It has a unique, soft taste. I’d definitely buy a cup of it, it’s very different.”

Resources

1)Fair Trade Foundation: Fairtrade is about better prices, decent working conditions, local sustainability, and fair terms of trade for farmers and workers in the developing world. Website: http://www.fairtrade.org.uk/

2) The red dot logo stands for belonging to the best in design and business. The red dot is an internationally recognized quality label for excellent design that is aimed at all those who would like to improve their business activities with the help of design. Website: http://www.red-dot.de

3) Small businesses looking to develop their brand can find plenty of free advice and resources here. Website: www.brandingstrategyinsider.com

4) Brandchannel: The world’s only online exchange about branding, packed with resources, debates and contacts to help businesses intelligently build their brand. Website:www.brandchannel.com

By David South, Development Challenges, South-South Solutions

Published: June 2011

Development Challenges, South-South Solutions was launched as an e-newsletter in 2006 by UNDP’s South-South Cooperation Unit (now the United Nations Office for South-South Cooperation) based in New York, USA. It led on profiling the rise of the global South as an economic powerhouse and was one of the first regular publications to champion the global South’s innovators, entrepreneurs, and pioneers. It tracked the key trends that are now so profoundly reshaping how development is seen and done. This includes the rapid take-up of mobile phones and information technology in the global South (as profiled in the first issue of magazine Southern Innovator), the move to becoming a majority urban world, a growing global innovator culture, and the plethora of solutions being developed in the global South to tackle its problems and improve living conditions and boost human development. The success of the e-newsletter led to the launch of the magazine Southern Innovator.  

Follow @SouthSouth1

Google Books: https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=JIKYBgAAQBAJ&dq=development+challenges+june+2011&source=gbs_navlinks_s

Slideshare: http://www.slideshare.net/DavidSouth1/development-challengessouthsouthsolutionsjune2011issue

Southern Innovator Issue 1: https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=Q1O54YSE2BgC&dq=southern+innovator&source=gbs_navlinks_s

Southern Innovator Issue 2: https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=Ty0N969dcssC&dq=southern+innovator&source=gbs_navlinks_s

Southern Innovator Issue 3: https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=AQNt4YmhZagC&dq=southern+innovator&source=gbs_navlinks_s

Southern Innovator Issue 4: https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=9T_n2tA7l4EC&dq=southern+innovator&source=gbs_navlinks_s

Southern Innovator Issue 5: https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=6ILdAgAAQBAJ&dq=southern+innovator&source=gbs_navlinks_s

Creative Commons License

This work is licensed under a
Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.

ORCID iD: https://orcid.org/0000-0001-5311-1052.

© David South Consulting 2021