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GREEN TECHNOLOGY EXHIBITION GREEN TECHNOLOGY FOR A LOW CARBON FUTURE 26th session of the Governing Council / Global Ministerial Environment Forum 2011

Assisting business towards carbon neutrality

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Climate Action Trans-world House, 100 City Road, London, EC1Y 2BP, UK Tel: +44 (0)207 871 0188 Fax: +44 (0)207 871 0101 United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) PO Box 30552, Nairobi, Kenya Tel: +254 20 762 3292 Fax: +254 20 762 3927 Project Director: David McConnell Operations Manager: Lisa Yazdabadi Editorial Assistant: Rachael Bristow Account Managers: Javier Aparicio Michael Gray Petra Harkay Philip Sims James Woodley Climate Action wishes to thank all the individuals and organisations who have contributed to the Green Technology Exhibition, especially Satinder Bindra, Director of the Division of Communications and Public Information, UNEP; Fanina Kodre, Head, Internet Unit and Manager of the Climate Neutral Network, UNEP; Stuart Roberts, Information Officer, CN Net Coordinator, Division of Communications and Public Information, UNEP; Francisco Vasquez, Chief, Meeting Coordination Unit, United Nations Office at Nairobi and Cristina Langendorf, Associate Conference Affairs Officer Division of Conference Services, United Nations Office at Nairobi.

Welcome to the Green Technology Exhibition How can technology assist us in reducing the carbon footprint in our organisations, neighbourhoods and countries?

The Green Technology Exhibition, positioned in the upper concourse from the 21st – 24th February, features innovative technologies that can assist countries around the world in addressing environmental concerns. These include products that mitigate and adapt to climate change, use natural resources more efficiently, ensure environmentally sound management of chemicals, the reduction of pollution and environmental monitoring. Climate Action and the exhibitors look forward to meeting you, and invite you to come and learn about exciting new energy-efficient technologies. The exhibition stands will feature a range of technologies including: cost effective lighting solutions, environmentally friendly cooking apparatus for rural communities, water purification, sustainable biofuel production and energy saving lamps and LED solutions. This is an opportunity to speak with both developing and established organisations who are creating innovative technologies to assist countries around the world in addressing their environmental concerns.







Exhibitors Profiles – Introduction to the Green Technology

 Achim Steiner UN Under Secretary-General and UNEP Executive Director

Exhibition Participants

16  Why waiting for climate consensus could waste your future

The role of sustainability policy in advancing national self-interest Mathis Wackernagel, Ph.D. President Global Footprint Network


Hydropower and climate change


SPECIAL REPORT: Biofuels – the energy of the future?

 ameron Ironside C Programme Director International Hydropower Association (IHA)

Zurina Amnan, Group CEO, Bionas Group of Companies, answers questions by Climate Action

25  Bioenergy, ecosystems and livelihoods

 Andrea Athanas Senior Programme Officer International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN)

29  Solar electricity for the developing world 

 rofessor Bernard McNelis P Board Member International Solar Energy Society (ISES)

32  Mimicking nature to mitigate climate change Bryony Schwan Executive Director The Biomimicry Institute

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Webber Wentzel is a proud sponsor of the Carbon Disclosure Project and a member of the Climate Advisory Committee of the National Business Initiative. Our Climate Change and Carbon Markets Practice has the experience and expertise to help businesses deal with the challenges and opportunities presented by global warming.

Ecosystem based adaptation

Image caption here...

Achim Steiner UN Under Secretary-General and UNEP Executive Director

Foreword T

he imperative to act on climate change grows daily. At the UN climate convention meeting in Cancun last December, governments re-engaged and moved forward on areas ranging from clean technology to enlisting the world’s forests and forest-dwelling communities in the fight to combat climate change. But as the emissions gap report – co-ordinated by UNEP in co-operation with experts from over 20 leading centres – showed, a significant gulf exists between the current ambition of nations and scientific consensus. Indeed, if the world is to have a chance of keeping a global temperature rise below 2 degrees Celsius by 2050, then additional emission reductions, currently equal to emissions from all the world’s vehicles, will be needed by around 2020. A landmark report on the Green Economy, compiled by UNEP in collaboration with economists, colleagues at other UN agencies and civil society organisations, will be launched at this 26th session of the UNEP Governing Council/Global Ministerial Environment Forum (GC/GMEF) It outlines pathways to sustainable development and poverty eradication, including ways in which government policies can, if comprehensively pursued, catalyse a |4|

transition to a low carbon, resource efficient path – one that tackles multiple challenges including damaging climate change, feeding a growing population, and the need to generate decent employment prospects for at least two billion people over the next decade. Unleashing private sector investments into 10 key sectors is a central thrust of these aims. The private sector is both part of the problem, but also part of the solution to climate change and sustainable development challenges generally. While some companies in some sectors see acting on climate change as a risk to older or more mature business models, others see a transition to a low carbon, Green Economy as an opportunity for generating new business models, products and markets, from clean tech

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Ecosystem based adaptation

to investments in ‘natural capital’ and ecosystem services such as those generated by forests. Already this year, compelling figures have emerged in respect of the global installation of solar panels, in many ways confounding predictions of just five or 10 years ago. Surveys indicate that in 2010 17.5 gigawatts of photo voltaics (PV) were installed world-wide, with an estimated 20 gigawatts forecast for 2011. Total installed PV is now just under 60 gigawatts – equal to around 10 nuclear reactors.

Both the solar and wind statistics also underline that increasing numbers of developing countries are becoming involved. Global wind power installations increased by just under 36 gigawatts in 2010, bringing total installed wind energy capacity up to close to 194 gigawatts, a 22.5 per cent increase on 2009. This new wind capacity added in 2010 represents investments worth US$65 billion – proof, if proof were needed, that this area of a Green Economy is no longer just a niche market. Both the solar and wind statistics also underline that increasing numbers of developing countries are becoming involved, led by nations such as China and India, but also featuring countries such as Brazil, Mexico, Egypt, Morocco and Tunisia.

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Kenya, where UNEP is headquartered, is set to develop the largest wind farm in sub-Saharan Africa, and is rapidly expanding geothermal electricity generation in the Great Rift Valley. These transitions are happening as a result of existing measures – transitions that can be scaled-up and accelerated even further with the right public policy measures and enabling conditions. Exhibitions like the Green Technology Exhibition at this GC/GMEF showcase various technologies from renewable energies to advances in low energy lighting. Exhibitors reflect some of the innovations and creativity businesses are bringing to the sustainable development debate. These are no longer small-scale curiosities, but are increasingly part of a remarkable transition happening in almost every corner of the world. As we travel on the Road to Rio+20 these innovations should provide confidence to governments that many of the solutions to a sustainable 21st century are already available if the right package of forward-looking, green economic policies can be agreed in Brazil next year.

Achim Steiner is UN Under-Secretary-General and Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). He has worked both at the grassroots level and the highest levels of international policymaking to address the interface between environmental sustainability, social equity, and economic development.


Ecosystem based adaptation

Introduction to the Green Technology Exhibition Participants

Come and meet the exhibitors in the upper concourse area to find out more!

Asociasion Forestal Integral de San Andres, Peten (Sasakawa Prize Winner)

AFISAP is an organisation dedicated to the comprehensive management and conservation of an area of 51,939 hectares located in the Multiple Use Zone of the Maya Biosphere Reserve. By adopting Forest Stewardship Council-certified best practices, AFISAP protects the biodiversity of the forests and the cultural values of the Mayan archaeological sites, while also preventing deforestation due to forest fires and unmanaged agricultural expansion, and generating economic and social benefits for the local communities. The organisation annually harvests around 585 trees within an area of 600 hectares or a density of approximately one tree per hectare. It utilises best practices, including the strict protection of bodies of water and high-value conservation sites, path planning, guided logging, and the use of light machinery.

Contact details: Email: Tel: +502 7823-1902 /+502 7823-1902 | Web:


Bionas is a world leading brand in Jatropha plantation and the biofuel industry. Its assets portfolio in Malaysia consists of over 600,000 planted acres, 3.3 million acres of land bank, 313 nurseries and collection centres and five processing plants. Bionas has the capacity to produce of 600,000 tonnes of seeds, 2 million tonnes of Crude Jatropha Oil (CJO), 1.5 million tonnes of seed cakes (biomass), 3.5 million tonnes of Jatropha additives and 35 million tonnes of B20 for biofuels. Bionas has produced the nano-emulsion B20 biofuel for diesel, petrol and jet fuel made from Jatropha, the 2nd generation biofuel feedstock that is non-food and environmental-friendly. Bionas has extended its global presence to Indonesia, Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia, Philippines, Taiwan and China.

Product profile: Bionas products include: Jatropha Curcas seeds; Jatropha Curcas seedlings;

Jatropha Curcas stem cuttings; Jatropha Curcas Seed Cake (Biomass); Crude Jatropha Oil (CJO); bio-diesel, bio-petrol and bio-jet fuel additives; Via Nano-Emulsion Technology; B20 bio-diesel, B20 bio-petrol B20, bio-jet fuel and B25 Heavy fuel; and Terracottem Soil Conditioner for Bionas plantations on drylands. Bionas also provides consultation Services in Jatropha Plantation & BioFuel Programmes.

Contact: Tel: +603 2691 2228 /+603 2697 7066 | Fax: +603 2691 2208 Email: | Web:

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Ecosystem based adaptation


BSH is a corporate group that operates worldwide. It stemmed from a joint venture set up in 1967 between Robert Bosch GmbH (Stuttgart) and Siemens AG (Munich). Today, BSH operates 41 factories in 13 countries throughout Europe, the USA, Latin America and Asia. The company’s actions and development are determined by a consistent policy of innovation and quality. Underlying this is the conviction that driving forward new technologies not only generates a competitive edge and provides greater convenience for customers – but also benefits the environment. BSH is committed to the principle of sustainability, and thus to the responsible handling of resources.

Product profile: All people cook. But, over 2.5 billion of the world’s population still prepares food on open fires often leading to severe deforestation as well as health and safety problems. WHO estimates that every year 1.6 million people die from the resulting indoor air pollution. BSH is working to provide an alternative cooking option to open wood, charcoal, or kerosene. Specialised in developing home appliances, BSH is dedicated to using its core competence to promote sustainable living for everyone. Thus, since 2003, BSH has been developing the plant oil cooker technology. The plant oil cooker with ‘Protos’ technology, developed by BSH, was conceived to be more than just another appliance; in addition to fulfilling the basic human need of food preparation, it also has the potential to generate positive ecological, economic, health, and social benefits. The innovative Protos technology allows the use of any type of available plant oil as fuel for cooking.

Contact: Tel: +49 89 4590 01 | Fax: +49 89 4590 2347 Email: | Web:

Coca Cola East and Central Africa

The Coca-Cola Company (NYSE: KO) is the world’s largest beverage company, refreshing consumers with more than 500 sparkling and still brands. Along with Coca-Cola, recognised as the world’s most valuable brand, the Company’s portfolio includes 12 other billion dollar brands, including Diet Coke, Fanta, Sprite, Coca-Cola Zero, vitaminwater, Powerade, Minute Maid, Simply and Georgia. Globally, the Company is the No. 1 provider of sparkling beverages, juices and juice drinks and ready-to-drink teas and coffees. Through the world’s largest beverage distribution system, consumers in more than 200 countries enjoy the Company’s beverages at a rate of 1.6 billion servings a day.

Product profile: With an enduring commitment to building sustainable communities, our company is focused on initiatives that protect the environment, conserve resources and enhance the economic development of the communities where we operate. Contact: Web:

Global Wind Power/Reliance ADA Group

Global Wind Power B.V. has established an exclusive partnership with Global Wind Power Ltd., part of the Reliance ADA Group, for the supply of modern wind turbines to the world. Their mutual objective is to be a leading global player in the field of wind turbine manufacturing, by having access to advanced proprietary technology and offering an excellent performance in terms of service and maintenance. Industrial countries place combating global climate change high on the agenda, while in developing countries air pollution caused by fossil fuels is of great environmental concern. Wind energy has demonstrated that it offers the most cost-efficient and reliable solution amongst other renewables, and that it has no difficulty in competing with coal, oil, and gas. Moreover, if the external costs of fossil fuels and nuclear power like the additional pollution and health costs are taken into account, wind power is actually more economical.

Contact details: Tel: +31 20 42 60 923 | Email: Web:


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We have a stake in the world’s well-being.

We use our unrivaled scale and expertise to transform how billions live, work and connect.

Business as usual isn’t sustainable.

It’s time to rethink, re-engineer and reinvent success with the environment in mind.

When faced with the impossible, we forge ahead.

We’re fueled by an energy to innovate that’s as powerful as it is renewable.

We make a bigger difference by leaving a smaller footprint.

We push ourselves to reduce the impact of our portfolio, supply chain and operations every step of the way.

Finite resources demand infinite ingenuity.

We help span the gulf between what the world has and what it needs.

Sustainability is a smart growth strategy.

Being environmentally responsible yields big dividends—for us, our customers and the planet.

Our vision takes the long view.

We’ve pioneered environmental stewardship since day one, with an eye fixed on the future.

Sustainability isn’t an end state, it’s a state of doing.

We’re constantly creating amazing ways to move our customers, our business and the world forward.

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Ecosystem based adaptation


At HP we are proud that our products touch so many lives. We believe that technology is vital to helping us all succeed in this rapidly changing world. We believe that because we serve such a wide range of customers – from individuals to the largest enterprises – we have a unique perspective and exceptional insight into how their needs can be met. HP is a truly global corporation, doing business in approximately 170 countries and creating technology that positively impacts individuals and businesses all across the globe.

Product profile IT Solutions for a Low-Carbon Economy: HP recognises the important role that the Information

and Communication Technology sector will play in enabling carbon dioxide (CO2) reductions across a variety of sectors. We are committed to reducing our own contribution to climate change as well as developing IT solutions that can help lower or reduce the release of greenhouse gases (GHG) such as CO2 into the atmosphere. At HP, we’re committed to ongoing innovation that makes IT more efficient. That’s why we’re focused on increasing the energy efficiency of our products and services, as well as working closely with our suppliers to help them reduce their carbon footprint. Beyond printers and PCs, HP is also dramatically increasing the efficiency of power-hungry data centers. The energy used by data centers doubled between 2000 and 2006 – and was forecast to double again by 2011. In response, HP is designing data centers to be substantially more efficient and to use local, renewable energy resources.

Contact: Achieve green goals with HP’s help, go to:

Manahari Development Institute – Nepal (Sasakawa Prize Winner)

MDI-Nepal is committed to the promotion of responsible agroforestry in the hill slopes of Makawanpur district in Nepal where only seven per cent of the land is cultivable and the rest is under serious threat of destruction from deforestation, slash and burn practice, and other unsustainable practices that result in devastating floods and landslides. The organisation’s approach aims to reduce soil erosion and its consequences, which can include aquatic habitat alteration, coastal contamination, and loss of productive farmland. With the involvement of the indigenous community, MDINepal delivers economic and social benefits to more than 2,000 households by improving the productivity of marginal lands with the planting of various fruit crops, and by providing clean energy technologies, such as solar home systems, improved cooking stoves and biogas stoves.

Contact details: Tel: +977 57 521 133 /+977 98550 56290) Fax: +977 57 520 655 | Email: | Web:

Matrix Lighting Inc.

Matrix Lighting Inc., manufacturer of Viribright LED light bulbs, provides an environmentally conscious alternative in lighting compared to standard incandescent and CFL bulbs on the market today. Viribright LED light bulbs offer the mercury free, energy-efficient, crisp, beautiful light you would expect from advanced light bulb technology. Our mission is to be innovative through new designs that encompass an array of direct incandescent lamp replacement LED bulbs for every traditional emerging lighting market and to produce the highest quality products at incredible value.

Product profile: Matrix Lighting Inc. offers a variety of LED lighting products available in various colours and wattage options. The eco-friendly line includes UL approved (Energy Star pending) 5W LED light bulbs and T8 LED tubes as well as MR16 Spotlights and 5W/10W down lights, both of which are pending UL approval. The affordable line of Viribright LED light bulbs use 80-90 per cent less energy than an incandescent bulb and 50 per cent less than CFLs, significantly reducing power consumption and helping to achieve global energy conservation goals. LED bulbs generate very little heat, transferring most of their energy directly into light and eliminating excessive heat build-up that can adversely affect energy costs. Viribright LED light bulbs provide 270 degrees of light and can last more than 20,000 hours at an average use of five hours per day. Viribright LED lighting products are safe for the environment and conform to all safety standards.

Contact: Tel: +1 818 989 6544 | Email: | Web:

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Ecosystem based adaptation


OSRAM (Munich, Germany) is part of the industry sector of Siemens and one of the two leading lighting manufacturers in the world. Sales for OSRAM worldwide totalled to €4.7 billion in fiscal year 2010, 88 per cent of which came from outside Germany. OSRAM is a high-tech company in the lighting industry. Over two thirds of OSRAM sales come from energy efficient products. Outlay on research and development is around 5.5 per cent of sales. This global player employs more than 40,000 people worldwide, supplies customers in some 150 countries and has 46 production facilities in 17 countries.

Product profile: See the world in a new light – lighting accounts for 19 per cent of global energy consumption. Compared

to incandescent bulbs, OSRAM energy saving lamps and LED solutions save around 80 per cent in energy for the same light output. Over the past few years the company has constantly expanded its green range and is able to offer a broad spectrum of products including innovative HALOGEN ECO lamps. Lower energy consumption means lower emissions of CO2 – energy-efficient lighting solutions are therefore working actively against global warming and climate change. Greener products are not only good for the environment but also for financial reasons as monthly electricity bills will be considerably reduced. Together with its customers, OSRAM wants to maintain living space in all its beauty and promote environmental protection – for us and for our children.

Contact: Email: | Web:

Parsons Brinckerhoff (PB)

PB is one of the world’s leading planning, environment and infrastructure firms. PB is an innovator in project delivery and has a decade’s experience in delivery methods such as alliances, public private partnerships and design, build, finance contracts – delivering better results for everyone involved. Worldwide, PB’s 14,000 employees work with clients and communities in the Australia-Pacific region, the Americas, Europe, Africa and the Middle East. In Australia and New Zealand, their 2,000 strong team offers technical expertise and local knowledge, supported by PB’s international resources. As of November 2009, PB is a wholly owned subsidiary of Balfour Beatty plc, based in London. Balfour Beatty is a world-class engineering, construction, services and investment business with a resource pool of 55,000 employees worldwide.

Product profile: Their comprehensive services include strategic consulting, environmental studies, design, construction management, and project and programme management. PB’s work involves transport, energy, mining, urban development and defence projects. Sustainability is a focus in everything PB does, for clients, communities and the environment. They seek the most sustainable solutions for every project, and are helping clients to develop new responses to global problems such as climate change. Contact: Tel: +27 (0) 11 514 7200 | Web:


Puricare is a South African company that was founded in 1990 and specialises in the design and manufacture of customised solutions in the fields of Ultraviolet and Activated Oxygen (non-harmful Ozone). The company focuses on the purification and sterilisation of water, effluent and air without the degradation of natural life support systems. Their germicidal Ultraviolet lamps are also highly effective in the destruction of micro-organisms, viruses, bacteria and fungi. Puricare is able to combine trusted and proven UV and Activated Oxygen technology, manufacturing ability and design expertise and flexibility to meet the needs of customers worldwide. International distribution licenses are also now available. Product profile: Puricare activated oxygen agricultural units: Irrigation water is enriched with activated oxygen, catalysed with hydrogen peroxide and fed back into the main irrigation stream. This releases an abundance of dissolved activated oxygen into the soil, which creates an aerobic environment for plants to flourish in. Some immediate benefits of this unit and process is that it oxidises unwanted metals in irrigation systems that cause blockage of irrigation lines and ensures higher concentrations of dissolved activated oxygen in water. Puricare water treatment plants (chemical free process): Through the application of UV and non harmful Ozone technology Puricare can offer: planning, supply and manufacturing of Modular Water Purification Plants of any size; packaged (containerised) Water Purification Plants up to 500,000 L/day per container; and specialised Filtration Units for removal of heavy metals from water and the removal of the waterborne diseases such as Cholera and E-Coli. Potable water conforms to WHO standards. Contact: Tel: +27 (044) 873 0722 | Email: | Web:

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Specialists in Ultra Violet and Activated Oxygen Treatment of Water, Wastewater and Air. Please visit us at or email International Distribution Licenses Now Available!

Puricare Activated Oxygen Agricultural Unit A typical installation where 2 400 000 litre per hour is treated for irrigation. Irrigation water is enriched with activated oxygen, catalysed with hydrogen peroxide and fed back into the main irrigation stream. This releases an abundance of dissolved activated oxygen into the soil which creates an aerobic environment for plants to flourish in. Some immediate benefits of this unit and process is that it oxidises unwanted metals in irrigation systems that cause blockage of irrigation lines and ensures higher concentrations of dissolved activated oxygen in water.

Puricare Water Treatment Plants (Chemical Free Process) A typical installation offering a complete skid & truck mounted or containerised plant for the production of drinking or processed water. These mobile units can be built to operate either electrically or solar powered. Through the application of UV and non harmful Ozone technology Puricare can offer: Planning, supply and manufacturing of Modular Water Purification Plants of any size / Packaged (Containerised) Water Purification Plants up to 500.000 L/day per container / Specialised Filtration Units for removal of heavy metals from water and the removal of the waterborne diseases such as Cholera and E-Coli. Potable water conforms to WHO standards.

Ecosystem based adaptation


Shell is one of the world’s largest distributors of biofuels. To support this activity they are investing in infrastructure to store, blend and distribute these biofuels. In 2010 Shell signed a binding agreement with Cosan to form a joint venture to produce and commercialise ethanol. With the capacity to produce more than 2 billion litres of ethanol a year from Brazilian sugar cane, the proposed joint venture will be one of the world’s largest biofuels producers. Shell also has dedicated teams in four research centres across the world, a number of academic partnerships and significant joint technology programmes with leading biotechnology companies that explore new technology platforms for the production of advanced biofuels. Product profile: Shell’s stand will provide an overview of the company’s activities in biofuels and the work they are doing to ensure that biofuels are produced in a more sustainable way. Shell believes that biofuels represent the most realistic commercial solution to reduce CO2 emissions in the road transport sector for the next 20 years. The company recognises that the CO2 savings of biofuels vary greatly depending on the raw materials involved, how they are processed and distributed, and the way they are used in vehiclesand acknowledge the sustainability challenges associated with the production of biofuels. As well as addressing CO2 emissions, Shell are working hard to ensure that the biofuels they handle are produced in a more sustainable way, addressing direct and indirect impacts to safeguard the environment and benefit communities and wider society. Contact: Tel: +44 (0) 20 7934 3855 | Email: | Web:

The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP)

The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) co-ordinates United Nations environmental activities, assisting developing countries in implementing environmentally sound policies and practices. Product profile: UNEP will be showcasing the work of some of its key initiatives, including the Billion Tree Campaign, Climate Neutral Network and Greening the Blue. UNEP’s Billion Tree Campaign (BTC) is a worldwide initiative that encourages governments, organisations and individuals to plant trees and register them on the BTC website. The Billion Tree Campaign has recorded more than 11 billion trees by participants from all 192 United Nations Member States since 2006. The Climate Neutral Network (CN Net) is a UN initiative for the showcasing of strategies and initiatives to reduce carbon footprint, promoting the global transition to low-carbon economies and societies. CN Net is a web-based platform for companies, organisations, cities and states to showcase their climate neutral strategies, and to share information and ideas with other participants. With membership now over 250, CN Net is playing a key role as a galvanising platform to inspire global action on climate change. On 5th June (World Environment Day) 2007, the UN Secretary-General made public his ambition to make the United Nations more efficient in its operations and asked UNEP to lead the way. In 2008 the UN Climate Neutral Strategy was published and last year a new UNEP website – Greening the Blue – was launched. The website provides a platform for discussion on how to make the UN more sustainable, and records our progressive achievements. Greening the Blue won Best Website award at the 2010 international IVCA Clarion Awards. Contact: Email: | Web:


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Ecosystem based adaptation

Unilever Asia PVT Ltd

Unilever is the world’s leading fast moving consumer goods company with strong local roots in more than 100 countries across the globe. With presence in over 14 product categories and 400 leading brands, Unilever products touch the lives of over 2 billion people everyday. Unilever plans to develop new ways of doing business that can increase business whilst significantly reducing environmental impact and protecting lives using clear measurable targets approved by global experts. In 2009 Unilever invested over €89 million in community programmes worldwide. The mission that inspires everyone in Unilever is to help people feel good, look good and get more out of life.

Product profile: PureIt water purifier was launched by Unilever in India in 2004 and is now the country’s No 1 water purifier, protecting the lives of over 15 million consumers. It runs without gas, running water or electricity and provides an easy, practical and affordable way of getting safe and great tasting drinking water. PureIt has been recognised by Indian and International institutions like the Indian Public Health association, London school of Hygiene and the National Environmental Engineering Research Institute. PureIt meets the most stringent international criteria set by Environmental Protection Agency, USA for safe drinking water standards and has been awarded the best non-electric water purifier at the Water Digest Awards 2008-09 and the Golden Peacock Award for Best Innovative Product/Service. Pureit has been launched in Bangladesh and Indonesia and will be available throughout the world in the coming years.

Contact: Tel: +91 22 3983 000 | Email: Web:

Webber Wentzel

Webber Wentzel is one of the leading corporate law firms in South Africa with a significant international practice. The firm has developed an enviable reputation as a consistent provider of appropriate and valuable legal assistance, backed by absolute commitment to service excellence. The long-standing reputation is continued by a vast team of highly accomplished attorneys whose unmatched knowledge and extensive experience ensures that Webber Wentzel remains the legal firm of choice in Africa. Twenty seven of Webber Wentzel’s partners have been recognised in Chambers Global 2010 as ‘Leaders in their Fields’ and ‘up and coming’ in a range of areas, including banking and finance, competition, dispute resolution, IT and telecommunications, mergers and acquisitions, media and broadcasting, private equity, project finance and tax.

Product profile: Webber Wentzel is the firm of choice for a variety of local and international corporations, financial institutions and government organisations. They have led the market by establishing a Climate Change and Carbon Trading Practice which has built up considerable experience and expertise. They have advised on significant carbon trading matters, including: Corporate; Regulatory and tax advice; Transactions under the Kyoto Protocol Clean Development Mechanism (CDM); and The listing of Carbon Credit Notes on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange ( JSE). The Practice is a multi-disciplinary team of attorneys from different areas of law including corporate, tax, financial services, public law, environmental and regulatory. The complementary expertise in the team ensure that matters are addressed holistically.

Contact: Tel: +27 11 530 5000 (switchboard) | Email: Web:

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Open the door to energy efficiency. Sustainably produced. Efficient in use.


in Germany

Energy efficiency is being placed under the “spotlight” in Africa as we are becoming more and more aware of our country’s limited resources and ever-increasing demands on energy suppliers. With all of Bosch Home Appliances exceeding the minimum requirements for energy efficiency, not only are we making a concerted effort to save the environment, but the future of our children too. Let Bosch Home Appliances show you the light.

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Ecosystem based adaptation

Source: Flickr/Armando Maynez

Mathis Wackernagel, Ph.D. President, Global Footprint Network

Why waiting for climate consensus could waste your future The role of sustainability policy in advancing national self-interest


conomic and political realities have long made the prospect of sweeping international accords a fragile basket in which to hold all our hopes. But while the latest round of climate talks in Cancun were regarded as a modest success, a new and more powerful strategy is emerging. It is one that recognises the potential for governments to advance the global good by doing what is best for their own long-term competitiveness. At Global Footprint Network, we ask government leaders to ask themselves a simple question: What is the best direction you can take to secure your own long-term stability and security in a time of increasing resource constraints? If leaders and their administrations truly understood the underlying resource dynamics, they would see the importance of acting quickly and aggressively, regardless of what their global neighbours are doing.

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The coming crunch

Skeptics would contest: How can it be in any city or country’s interest to address a problem whose costs are born by all humanity? Climate change, first and foremost, is a consequence of the high use of fossil fuel. Even though climate change is a global problem, the fossil fuel dependence that contributes to it carries growing economic risks for the emitting country. Working our way out of this addiction takes time, and the longer we wait to radically rethink and retool our societies, the less chance we will have to alter course. And there is another important piece of the picture beyond fossil fuel. Climate change is not an issue in isolation, but rather, a symptom of a broader challenge: humanity’s systematic overuse of the planet’s finite resources.

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Ecosystem based adaptation

Our natural systems can only generate a finite amount of raw materials (fish, trees, crops, etc.) and absorb a finite amount of waste (such as carbon dioxide emissions). Global Footprint Network quantifies this rate of output by measuring biocapacity – nature’s ability to renew resources and provide ecological services. Biocapacity is as measurable as GDP – and, ultimately, far more significant, as access to basic living resources underlies every economic activity a society can undertake. Up until now, we have treated biocapacity as an essentially limitless flow, to the point that our demand for nature’s services now outstrips biocapacity by 50 per cent, according to Global Footprint Network’s latest research. This means it takes a year and six months to produce all the resources and absorb all the CO2 demanded by human activities in one year. In many individual nations, of course, the level of demand is much larger, and exceeds by a far greater margin what the planet could provide for everybody. This accelerating gap between human demand and nature’s supply is leading us quickly to another crunch: one on biocapacity. Consider this. No matter which way the future goes, whether we avoid climate disaster or we continue with business as usual, increasing consumption, population and CO2 emissions will escalate the pressure on biocapacity.

Whether or not we curb climate change, biocapacity will be king

World leaders have, to a great extent, affirmed the need to stay within a 2 degrees Celsius climate alteration (at a minimum) to avoid widespread calamity. This means reducing carbon concentrations in the atmosphere to between 450 (by optimistic estimates) and 350 parts per million (by more realistic estimates). Reaching even the more relaxed target will require a massive shift away from fossil fuel now (and not in a decade or two) and a wholesale restructuring of the way we produce and use energy. Yet hardly anybody admits this mathematical truth. Most experts acknowledge that, even with significant development of wind and solar technologies, shifting away from fossil fuel will require increased reliance on crop-based fuels and products. Add to that the resources needed to provide for a growing population, a swelling middle class, and the two billion alive today who lack enough to meet basic needs. It is clear, even in the scenario of robust international accords with binding treaties to regulate and reduce emissions, biocapacity will be under pressure as never before. Those who will have extra biocapacity will be kings. And what if we don’t succeed in heading off climate change? Biocapacity will become even more vulnerable and, in all likelihood, subject to staggering declines. With crops failing and drought widespread, the failure of international climate co-operation will have set a poor stage for negotiating the distribution of dwindling resources. Those countries whose economies depend most on access to massive amounts of resources – especially resources from abroad – will find themselves particularly vulnerable.

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Winning or losing the ‘Earth Race’

In a world facing a biocapacity crunch, the winning economic strategies will be preserving biocapacity on the one hand, and reducing demand for it on the other. And here’s a bit of good news: those also happen to be leading strategies for minimising climate change. Many believe the race to develop green technology – what New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman has dubbed the ‘Earth Race’ – will bring the spoils of the future to the early movers and adopters, and secure innovative nations and enterprises with positions of advantage on the global stage. This is the carrot pushing green innovation. But there is an even more powerful stick. Those countries and cities trapped in energy- and resource-intensive infrastructure will not be able to adapt in time to meet the emerging resource constraints. The weaker the international accords, the more individual countries will have to do to curb their resource demand in order to assure their long-term stability and security. Lack of international co-operation won’t give us a break from taking action – on the contrary, it will force us to work significantly harder. As officials begin to understand this, they will approach the climate and resource challenge with an entirely different level of resolve. Some already do. We are not calling on leaders only to do what’s needed for the benefit of other nations and peoples. Rather, we are asking them to take the actions needed to responsibly serve their own. Mathis Wackernagel, Ph.D., founder and President of Global Footprint Network, has worked on sustainability issues for organisations on all continents but Antarctica. He has lectured at more than 100 universities, authored dozens of articles, reports and peer-reviewed papers, and won awards for his work including an honorary Ph.D. from Berne University, the Skoll Award for Social Entrepreneurship and the Herman Daly Award of the US Society for Ecological Economics. While completing his Ph.D. at University of British Columbia, he and Professor William Rees created the Ecological Footprint measure, now a sustainability tool in wide use around the world. Global Footprint Network, based in Oakland, California, is a charitable research organisation working to make ecological limits central to policy and decision-making everywhere by advancing the use of the Ecological Footprint, a resource accounting tool that measures how much nature we have, how much we use, and who uses what. By developing transparent, scientifically robust measures to help leaders monitor and protect ecological assets, Global Footprint Network is committed to fostering a world where all people can live well within the means of one planet. Mathis Wackernagel, President Global Footprint Network 312 Clay Street, Oakland, CA 94607, USA Tel: +1 (510) 839 8879 Email: Website:

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Ecosystem based adaptation

© iStockphoto

Cameron Ironside Programme Director International Hydropower Association (IHA)

Hydropower and climate change H

ydropower already satisfies a significant portion of the world’s energy requirements. Its influence will increase in a climate changed world as it not only facilitates adaptation through water storage, but also enables the large-scale integration of renewables into energy systems. This article outlines the impact of climate change on hydropower and hydropower’s ability to respond to global energy needs. It details the unique role that hydropower plays in advancing global renewable energy systems. Hydropower is a renewable energy source generating electricity through the movement of water from a higher to lower elevation. Its energy conversion rate of 90 per cent is the highest of any known energy source. Hydropower has a global installed capacity of around 950GW – 19 per cent of worldwide installed electricity capacity – and generates approximately 16 per cent of the electricity used worldwide. This installed capacity represents a small portion of international hydropower potential, especially in the areas where it will be most required in a climate changed world. For example, Africa currently only utilises approximately 5 per cent of its hydropower potential.

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Impact of a changing climate on hydropower

It is clear that changes in climate will impact on hydropower: as different areas go through climatic changes, these changes will impact on the rivers that feed hydrological systems. The changes in river runoff will thus dictate the changes to the availability of hydropower as a resource.

It is clear that changes in climate will impact on hydropower: as different areas go through climatic changes, these changes will impact on the rivers that feed hydrological systems. While there are currently no global figures predicting the effects of climate change on the technology, a recent

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Ecosystem based adaptation

study by Hamadudu and Killingtviet (2010) which analysed the changes to river flows, as predicted by 12 different climate models, to consider the effects globally on existing hydropower, provides some indication: while the results indicate significant changes on a country or regional level, they suggest that the total global change to the hydropower system is small (around 2.5 per cent).

Hydropower has a role to play in both mitigating against and adapting to the effects of climate change. These results match the anecdotal evidence from within the membership of the IHA. While some countries, such as Australia, are already experiencing negative impacts, others such as Norway are anticipating increases in potential. Again, while more detailed studies are required, it is clear that changes will vary by region and will be both positive and negative. Currently, it is thought that the overall impact will be small, and possibly slightly positive.

Hydropower’s role in a climate changed world

Hydropower has a role to play in both mitigating against and adapting to the effects of climate change. The UN Climate Change Conference in CancĂşn provided an acknowledgement that adaptation must be addressed with the same priority as mitigation with the establishment of the CancĂşn Adaptation Framework. A central pillar of adaptation is water, and within the negotiations there was recognition of the need to better manage water, most importantly the need for storage to ensure flexibility and address supply issues. Hydropower has a key role to play in developing this capacity. It is one Pumped storage in action.

Upper Reservoir

Daytime Flow/Generation

Power Station

Night time Flow/Pumping

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Lower Reservoir

of the few users of stored water able to provide substantial revenue streams that can fund the required infrastructure. As the variability of water supply increases and demands further storage and management, hydropower provides a means both of supplying clean renewable energy, and funding infrastructure development. In mitigating against the impacts of climate change, hydropower plays a role both as a renewable energy in its own right, and as an enabler of other renewable technologies. It provides a large portion of the current mix of renewable energy, representing around 80 per cent of currently installed renewable capacity, and as it has been used for over 100 years is considered technologically advanced. In the form of dams, it provides numerous ancillary benefits such as storage (as mentioned above), flood control, irrigation and recreation. Hydropower offers both base load provision, for example through large run of river and storage projects, and peaking capacity through its ability to store energy for use in times of need.

Hydropower as an enabler of other renewable energies

Hydropower is unique in the role that it can play as an enabler of other renewable energies. As these other renewables expand their penetration of grids across the world, it is becoming apparent that the characteristics of, for example wind or solar generation, are altering the way that energy supply systems operate. As renewables come to dominate grids, the grid no longer functions to meet immediate demand in its entirety with the firm power capacity inherent in thermal base load systems. Any shortfall is made up by deploying alternative energy sources. This is as a result of the ability of these renewables to provide base load juxtaposed with intermittency issues inherent in the technologies.

Hydropower is unique in the role that it can play as an enabler of other renewable energies. These new systems require large amounts of stored energy that can be released during shortfalls in other renewable generation, and that can be replenished when there is excess energy in the system. The use of traditional thermal energy sources (such as coal or nuclear) in this role would, due to their nature, lead to the perverse outcome that more thermal systems would have to be built to serve the intermittency issues resulting from wind, solar and ocean energy, and would lead to an increase in emissions (these thermal energies cannot be started up merely to meet short-term shortfalls, but must be run continuously, and have long start-up periods). Hydropower is currently the only energy source able to both store energy (in the form of water) until it is needed, and to replenish these storage sources in times of excess availability in large enough volumes to act as energy

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Ecosystem based adaptation

Available storage options on a logarithmic scale.

Storage showing actual capacity on a normal scale. 100





VR Zn-Br




Ni-Cd FW



0.001 0.0001








Rated Power (MW)

CAES Compressed Air EDLC Dbl-layer capacitors FW Flywheel L/A Lead-acid Li-Ion Lithium-ion Na-S Sodium-sulfur Ni-Cd Nickel-cadmium Ni-MH Nickel-metal hydride PSH Pumped Storage Hydro VR Vanadium redox Zn-Br Zinc-bromine 100



storage facilities for renewable energy systems. Pumped storage facilities are able to both generate electricity and serve as pumps: they pump water to a higher reservoir when there is excess electricity in the grid, and release this stored energy on demand. Besides the storage benefits that allow hydropower to act as a catalyst for large scale integration of renewables, it also offers a number of ancillary benefits such as frequency and voltage regulation, and black start capabilities; benefits that increase in importance as grids become more renewable. The traditional role of hydropower as a provider of base load energy remains, and is increasing as its role as renewable energy gains prominence. However, it is the role that it can play in a climate changed world that makes it unique, whether as a source of both energy and finance within the adaptation framework, or, as the world continues to mitigate against further climate change, its role as an enabler for large scale integration of other renewable energies.

Hydropower Sustainability Assessment Protocol

Reflecting the recognition of its increasingly important role, the hydropower industry has worked with concerned stakeholders and partners over the past three years to develop the Hydropower Sustainability Assessment Protocol. The Protocol is an enhanced sustainability assessment tool which is being used to measure and guide performance in the hydropower sector. It assesses the four main stages of hydropower development: Early Stage, Preparation, Implementation and Operation. Assessments rely on objective evidence to create a sustainability profile against some 20 topics depending on the relevant stage, and covering all aspects of sustainability. The development process of the Protocol involved field trials in 13 different countries and stakeholder engagement with 1,933 individuals in 28 countries. More information is available at http://www. Hydropower_Sustainability_Assessment_Protocol.html

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Discharge Time (hr)

Discharge Time (hr)


80 70 60

Pumped Storage Hydro

50 40


30 20 10 0




Rated Power (MW)

PSH Pumped Storage Hydro CAES Compressed Air EDLC Dbl-layer capacitors Ni-MH Nickel-metal hydride Li-Ion Lithium-ion Ni-Cd Nickel-cadmium

Na-S VR L/A Zn-Br FW

Sodium-sulfur Vanadium redox Lead-acid Zinc-bromine Flywheel

Cameron Ironside joined IHA in February 2010 following a recently completed MBA at the University of Edinburgh and two climate-related internships with Scottish Power Renewables and Climate Change Capital. Prior to his MBA Cameron was a successful practising lawyer in South Africa for 10 years prior to relocating to the UK. The International Hydropower Association (IHA) was formed under the auspices of UNESCO in 1995 and is an international member-based organisation with the mission of advancing sustainable hydropower. IHA has members active in over 80 countries and provides a forum to promote and disseminate good practice and further knowledge about hydropower. IHA has a Central Office based in London and a representative office in South America. In addition, IHA currently has consultative and/or observer status with all UN agencies addressing water, energy and climate change. The International Solar Energy Society (ISES) is a UN accredited, multi-faceted, global membership organisation with individual and corporate members in more than 110 countries and Sections in over 50 countries. Since 1954, ISES supports the science, technology, policy and education to advance renewable energy. The ISES vision is: ‘Rapid transition to a renewable energy world.’ Cameron Ironside, Programme Director International Hydropower Association 9 Sutton Court Road, Sutton, SM1 4SZ, UK Tel: +44 (0)20 8652 5220 Fax: +44 (0)20 8643 5600 Email: Website:

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Source: Rick Miller, Wind Integration Utilizing Pumped Storage, Presentation to North American Hydropower Finance & Investment Summit, 2-4 Dec. 2009, Washington D.C.


Ecosystem based adaptation


Biofuels – the energy of the future?

Zurina Amnan, Group CEO, Bionas Group of Companies, answers questions by Climate Action

hat are the main environmental issues affecting CA WaJatropha producer for Crude Jatropha Oil (CJO) and Additive for Biopetrol and Biodiesel?

There are no environmental issues that are Z.A affecting a producer for Crude Jatropha Oil (CJO) and Jatropha Additive for Biopetrol, Biodiesel and

Biojetfuel like Bionas. In fact, we actually improve the environment for our policy towards the development of the plantation from an unutilised land, reforestation of an ex-logging land, restoration of toxic land such as ex-tin mine and stop the development of the desert. ow do you balance the needs of the CA Henvironment with the needs of the firm and the needs of the customer?

Our company policy is consistent with the needs Z.A of the environment as we are fully utilising deserted lands as well as the needs of our firm to exploit the full potential of Jatropha. Customer needs are met through the use of biofuels that stabilise the ever increasing cost of fuel.

s it possible to ensure that your supply chain is CA Isustainable? Our supply chain is sustainable as the company’s Z.A main unique selling proposition is its supply chain branding control, its price leading position, the best concept of implementation and the relative low entry cost of producing Jatropha biofuels. Most importantly, its success story in Malaysia with strong presence in other 10 countries.

your customers take to ensure CA Wthathattheystepsarecanmaking good buying choices? Our customers can start by choosing green Z.A products, especially in choosing their fuels. They | 22 |

should start using biofuels as the main source of their transportation fuel. Engine modifications are not required when they use Bionas Biofuels. Start making a difference in our environment by making the right decision.

CA Do you see yourselves as climate leaders? Yes we do and as a leader, Bionas (Bio-Oil Z.A National) is sharing its technologies with the world. We have developed advanced technologies

in developing biofuels with lower cost and better performance to be used throughout the world in helping to save the environment. hat is Bionas’s strategy for implementing CA Wsustainability standards in line with renewable energy and biofuel targets?

Bionas shall submit to UNEP, in Nairobi, a Z.A Memorandum that explains Bionas’ proposal for a partnership with UNEP to implement the following: • Technology sharing on Jatropha plantation programme for poverty eradication and biofuel production via nanoemulsion and polarisation technologies to UN member countries; • Bionas undertakes to also invest in every country introduced by UNEP for the implementation of Bionas projects, products and technologies; • Bionas seeks UNEP’s co-operation to set a new standard for biofuels produced via nano-emulsion and polarisation technologies; • Bionas and UNEP to co-operate with the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and the oil companies in UN member countries to have a mutual agreement to co-ordinate and unify the biofuel

26 GC/GMEF | Nairobi | 21-24 February 2011

Ecosystem based adaptation

SPECIAL FEATURE | Bionas Group policies of its member countries. This is to ensure the stabilisation of biofuel markets in order to secure an efficient, economic and regular supply of biofuel to consumers and a fair return on capital for those investing in the biofuel industry.

part from assisting the reduction of carbon CA Aemissions in the transport sector, how else is the use of biofuels combating climate change?

Aside from the transport sector, the use of Z.A biofuels will help a lot in reducing emissions from big factories whereby we will be able to remove the

ow is Bionas working with governments to carbons from the chimneys of factories and reduce the CA Hreduce the demand on oil? emission by 85 per cent. Bionas is working closely with the governments hat is the most important question that agriZ.A of a few countries to implement our Jatropha CA Wbusinesses should be thinking about right now? Biofuel Programme. By implementing our programme in their countries, they can reduce the demand on oil by The agri-businesses should be thinking about 20-25 per cent. In Malaysia, Bionas was involved in the Z.A how to start planting and investing into Jatropha ‘Commodity Lab for Jatropha’ organised by the Ministry Curcas (for tropical climates) and Swida Wilsoniana (for of Plantation Industries and Commodities, Malaysia from 23th – 24th March 2010.

cold climates), which is non-food and environmentalfriendly that benefits the farmers who are involved in the plantation directly. The government will evaluate and consider making Jatropha and Swida as commodities in the event the agri-businesses succeed in this project.

hat initiatives are Bionas taking to increase CA Wenergy for poorer people in rural areas? Bionas has created a lot of initiatives to help the W hat are the market implications if international Z.A poverty stricken group in rural areas, especially CA biofuel policy should be adopted? in Sarawak and Sabah, Malaysia. For the past three There will be positive market implication as years, we have been giving away for free four hectares Z.A our method of producing biofuels with our worth of Jatropha seeds per person to plant Jatropha technology will not increase the costs to the existing fuel on their own lands. Five processing plants were set up and 313 collection centres are in operation to buy back our farmers’ Jatropha harvest at high price. From an economics point of view, we have free lands and free workers. Our ability to buy back their harvest at very high price is due to the low entry cost of producing our biofuels via Nano-Emulsion and Polarization technologies. This is the key to the success of Bionas in the Jatropha plantation and Biofuel industry. Bionas has also improved infrastructure by providing road access to the villages, water catchment and mini hydro-electric. The Bionas Jatropha Biofuel programme has the ability to lift many people from poverty to financial independence, from despair to respect and unemployment to business owners.

ood vs. Fuel: There are debates as to whether the CA Fincrease in demand for biofuels results in a global rise of crop prices, the cost of which is passed down to consumers when purchasing food. How does this impact large industry, small farmers and consumers?

Jatropha is inedible; its cultivation doesn’t impact Z.A the supply or prices of food crops. Jatropha is the 2nd generation biofuel feedstock, which is non-food and environmental-friendly.

hat are the drivers for increasing biofuels CA Wconsumption in both the corporate and industrial sectors?

The main driver for the corporate world is their Z.A compliance with the UN policy in line with the Kyoto Protocol while in the industrial sectors. It will be a

great saving for them as they will no longer be paying the fines for polluting the environment plus the energy they will use is 20-25 per cent then they usually use.

26 GC/GMEF | Nairobi | 21-24 February 2011


ogistically, if a surge in demand for biofuels CA Lshould occur globally, how will Bionas respond towards the increase?

We are practically ready, willing and able to share Z.A our technologies and supply our biofuels to the world while co-operating with government agencies, OPEC countries (Oil Industry), etc.

Zurina Amnan, Chief Executive Officer of the Bionas Group. She has been key in mapping out the Group’s core strategies and leads the operational supply chain, and business and corporate relations of the Group. Zurina is entrenched in the Group’s operations, managing over 330 nurseries and collection centres and a million acres of plantation. This includes managing 8 biofuel processing plants around Malaysia and in neighbouring regions. Bionas is a world-leading brand in Jatropha plantation and the biofuel industry. Its assets portfolio in Malaysia consists of over 600,000 acres planted areas, 3.3 million acres land bank, 313 nurseries and collection centres and five processing plants Email: Website:

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Jatropha Curcas for Tropical Climates

Swida Wilsoniana for Cold Climates

Green technology development in line with the UNEP priorities and targets: GREEN TECHNOLOGY PRODUCTS

Bio-diesel B20 Bio-petrol B20 Bio-jetfuel B20 Heavy Fuel B25


Bionas success story in Sarawak, Malaysia and other countries.






Bionas has a strategic partnership with Terracottem, a soil conditioner developed to combat deforestation, and therefore able to stimulate the growth of Jatropha plantations on drylands and other critical soils. Terracottem is a mixture of more than 20 components all assisting the plant, more effectively than any single growth process in a synergetic way, water absorbing polymer of fertilizer product. It increases significantly the capability of soils and growing media retain and provide water and nutrients while reducing considerably the amount of water necessary to create high quality plants.


 To become the leading producer of Sustainable Second Generation Renewable Energy, which is environmentally friendly, does not cause deforestation, does not compete with food production while providing socioeconomic value to local communities.


To develop new sustainable green economic activity, which will enhance economic growth in rural areas and at the same time eradicate poverty. BIONAS UK PLC Unit 6, The Palmerson Centre. Oxford Road, Harrow & Wealdstone, London, HA3 7RG. UK

Bionas_TT2011_v4.indd 1

BIOFUEL BIONAS SDN BHD (684355-H) 5th Floor, Wisma Le Proton, No 134 Jalan Raja Abdullah, Kg Baru, 50300 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia Tel: +603-2691 2228 / +603-2697 7066 Fax: +603-2691 2208

Contact person:Zurina Amnan Khairil Anuar Zainuddin

01/02/2011 13:52:09

Ecosystem based adaptation

Seeds of Jatropha subaequiloba compared with the black seeds of Jatropha curcas. Š Flickr/tonrulkens

Andrea Athanas, Senior Programme Officer International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN)

Bioenergy, ecosystems and livelihoods B

ioenergy is an important and growing part of our energy mix. But, done poorly, producing energy from biomass can impact negatively on biodiversity and people’s livelihoods. Governments have an important role to play in establishing the safeguards and regulatory frameworks to ensure bioenergy markets develop sustainably. Examples of emerging good practice in biofuels policy include strategic environmental assessments of biofuels plans, inclusive planning frameworks for land and water allocations, and incentives for sourcing feedstock from smallholder farmers. Additional practices have been developed for biofuels operators including the principles, criteria and indicators of the Roundtable on Sustainable Biofuels. Bioenergy has been a part of our energy mix since the beginning of time and biofuels have been a source of automotive energy since the beginning of motorised transport. But the rapid expansion of fossil fuels from the 1940s marginalised biofuels from the fuel mix for much of the world, although Brazil and the US pursued policies which promoted biofuels in the 1970s with the oil crises.

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Recently, concerns about high energy prices, climate change impacts, security of supplies of fossil fuels, environmental and social impacts of oil and gas exploration and development and the desire to foster agricultural and rural development have brought biofuels onto the agenda again. By the end of 2010, more than 60 countries worldwide had policies in place promoting biofuels. But early enthusiasm about biofuels as a panacea for our oil dependency has abated and a more measured, cautious approach has emerged to dominate the current biofuels agenda. The motivations behind biofuels expansion targets are complex and analysis by the International Risk Governance Council (IRGC, 2008) has revealed incoherence and contradiction in many policy objectives. Additionally, with time, questions are arising about how realistic some of the targets are, given the constraints of existing markets, growing demand for agricultural commodities to feed a growing population, and productive limits of ecosystems. Specific concerns have been raised about unanticipated negative impacts of biofuels production including agricultural expansion into areas important for biodiversity and/or carbon sequestration,

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Ecosystem based adaptation

Box 1. Commonwealth country targets for biofuels Australia Canada

– 350 million litres by 2010 – 5 % ethanol share by 2010 2% biodiesel share by 2012 India – 1 0% ethanol blend by 2008 5% biodiesel blend by 2012 Malaysia – 5 % biodiesel blend in public vehicles New Zealand – 3.4% biofuels share by 2012 South Africa – 2% biofuels share by 2013

displacement of smallholders and vulnerable groups from productive lands, increasing use of pesticides and fertilisers, over-intensification of agricultural production, and food price hikes. Such impacts offset the intended benefits of biofuels – for instance, deforestation of areas for biofuels production can lead to higher releases of greenhouse gas emissions than the biofuels are able to offset in comparison with fossil fuels.

By the end of 2010, more than 60 countries worldwide had policies in place promoting biofuels. But while the negative impacts are unsurprising when considering impacts of existing unsustainable agricultural models, efforts are under way to incentivise more sustainable production practices and mitigate the negative impacts. In the meantime, in response to these unintended negative effects, some countries such as Germany, New Zealand and Thailand have reduced policy targets or support for biofuels, and others including Tanzania have put a temporary moratorium in place. Recommendations for strong biofuels policy frameworks include measures to: • Develop regulatory structures that ensure minimum GHG reductions and safeguard ecosystems and livelihoods; • Require operators to avoid and minimise negative impacts of bioenergy production on biodiversity and ecosystems including, in particular, water resources; • Ensure that biofuels do not adversely affect food security; • Develop and apply risk assessment methodologies such as full ‘cradle to cradle’ life cycle assessments and environmental impact assessments (EIAs); • Adopt internationally agreed definitions, sustainability standards and criteria for certification (such as the Roundtable on Sustainable Biofuels) and promote these to be recognised under international trade rules; • Identify ways of ensuring that biofuels provide benefits to feedstock producers, particularly vulnerable groups such as the rural poor, women and indigenous peoples; | 26 |

• Incentivise production methods that use water efficiently and sustainably, favour the planting of native species, and avoid the planting of potentially invasive species. • Ensure vulnerable and affected groups are able to participate meaningfully in decision-making processes that are likely to affect the access to land and resources; • Undertake land use planning exercises that bring biodiversity (and other) information into inclusive multistakeholder, multi-sectoral processes of negotiating the trade-offs between land and resource use alternatives.

The importance of land use planning

Land use planning and governance is central to the implementation of sustainable biofuels. Because biofuels and bioenergy are derived from biomass produced in agricultural and forest systems (and potentially marine and freshwater systems as well) bioenergy policies should be developed with input from ministries dealing with energy, environment, agriculture, forestry, climate change, economic development, and trade. The IRGC noted that the food-fuel conflict is being exacerbated by policies that favour the diversion of food crops into biofuels production (in order to compensate for oil price increases and their impact on food prices), at a time when other demands on finite land resources – for food production, housing, recreation, nature conservation, and so forth – are also increasing. Likewise, evidence from eastern and southern Africa has indicated that vulnerable groups are more likely to be displaced by biofuels production where land tenure and access regimes are weak. Implementation of robust land use policies will reduce the risk of land with recognised high biodiversity value or high carbon stocks being converted to grow biomass feedstock, and encourage the use of abandoned land, but only when environmentally, economically and socially appropriate.

Box 2. Some terminology

Biofuels are a sub-category of bioenergy. Bioenergy is energy sourced from non-fossil biomass used for heat, power, or transport. Bioenergy currently accounts for roughly ten per cent of total primary energy supply globally, with most of this being wood for cooking and heating in developing countries. Biofuels are liquid fuels from biomass used for transport, heating and power. They make up ten per cent of current bioenergy use, representing less than one per cent of overall energy portfolios. Ethanol and biodiesel are the most common biofuels. Bioenergy and biofuels are produced using feedstocks. Common feedstocks include palm oil, rapeseed, jatropha and soy (for biodiesel), sugar (cane and beet) and corn (for ethanol). Other feedstocks are being examined (algae) and other processes are under development (based on the use of cellulosic biomass such as wood, grasses, and crop residues). These are commonly called advanced or second generation biofuels.

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Ecosystem based adaptation

Box 3. Principles to negotiate and measure outcomes with stakeholders (the ‘Lally Principles’)

1. Use caution on entry 2. Invest in skilled facilitation 3. Share ownership of the process 4. Understand institutional context 5. Focus on landscape functions 6. Search for synergies 7. Recognise different scales 8. Begin small and expand 9. Understand landscape dynamics 10. Explore scenarios fully 11. Select aims and indicators carefully 12. Choose comprehensive indicator sets 13. Make trade-offs explicit 14. Embed tracking measures in long-term management arrangements 15. Prevent high-tech tools from driving the process 16. Learn from failures 17. Embrace change 18. Identify stakeholders 19. Be transparent about the opportunities. Source: Jeff Sayer, Louise Buck, and Sara Scherr;

Experiences from IUCN’s networks working on landscape planning provide insights into how to work with local stakeholders to learn about and influence landscape change. These principles (Box 3) provide a useful guide for biofuels developers and policy-makers.

Promote realistic targets

While biofuels and bioenergy policies project into the future, they need to be effective in taking into account limiting factors including uncertainties about land, water and labour, and how climate change will affect these. Biofuel targets most often cannot be met nationally, which implies trade. For example, currently the UK only provides ten per cent of its biofuel target locally; 90 per cent is imported from a range of countries, including some in Africa that are facing food security problems. Trade is not just related to feedstock, but also so-called ‘land grabs’ and disputes over their associated resources, including labour and water. Targets complemented by regulations with sustainability criteria or that recognize voluntary sustainability standards can potentially serve as safeguards against such risks. Policy-makers should assess realistic capacities to produce feedstock sustainably for bioenergy, avoiding unsustainable projections about the potential production and importation. The IRGC also recommended that biofuel policy-makers develop adaptive regulatory frameworks that set the conditions for transparent and balanced markets, enabling producing and exporting countries to meet, first, their domestic

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needs, and, second, the needs of international trade. At the same time, governments should foster research and development to promote more advanced forms of bioenergy which may require less land and may enable the more efficient use of wastes and non-food feedstock.

Conclusions: be realistic about targets and risks

Nobody should expect bioenergy alone to achieve the objectives of energy security, GHG emission reductions and sustainable development. Bioenergy is a relatively modest part of a comprehensive, sustainable energy policy in which all the various options are employed optimally, including energy efficiency, conservation, and appropriate technologies. Biofuels have a small but significant role in meeting future energy demand and accordingly, the targets and mandates that are in place worldwide are likely to remain in place. Moreover, the demand will increase with further targets for biomass to provide heat and power, and additionally as an alternative to fossil hydrocarbons as a feedstock for biochemicals. Thus it is imperative that policies and practices are established to manage associated risks – specifically to ensure that future biomass production takes full account of the need not to exacerbate existing biodiversity degradation and social tensions. Importantly policies must include land use planning and frameworks that use global knowledge about sensitive areas and species, and that enable local stakeholders to engage meaningfully in decisions affecting them. This article was originally published in the Commonwealth Ministers Reference Book 2010 and has been updated for this publication. Andrea Athanas was formerly Senior Programme Officer with IUCN’s Business and Biodiversity Programme. She was responsible for IUCN’s work on energy, ecosystems and livelihoods. Deviah Aiama, IUCN’s Bioenergy Programme Officer, reviewed and contributed to this article – any bioenergy queries for IUCN can be directed to him at The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) helps the world find pragmatic solutions to our most pressing environment and development challenges. IUCN promotes a rapid transition to sustainable energy sources by developing practical tools for managing the biodiversity impacts of all kinds of energy options and by advising governments, communities and companies on energy strategies that support livelihoods and have minimal impacts on ecosystems. IUCN 28 rue Mauverney, Gland 1196, Switzerland Tel: +41 22 999 0213 Fax: +41 22 999 0020 Website:

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Ecosystem based adaptation

Professor Bernard McNelis Managing Director ITPower & Board Member, ISES

Solar electricity for the developing world T

here are 1.6 billion people in the world without access to electricity, and the life-enhancing services this form of energy can provide. These same people do have access to abundant sunlight, and sunlight can be converted to electricity, cleanly, efficiently and reliably using solar photovoltaic (PV) energy conversion. In this article the author reports the recent spectacular growth of the PV industry. But this is limited to a few countries thanks to very favourable government policies, and all the countries are rich, developed and with no shortage of electricity! There have been successful PV projects in all the developing countries, often supported by UN agencies including UN Environment Programme (UNEP), but developing countries account for less than one per cent of the world market. New and ambitious initiatives are required to meet the target of electrifying the whole world. The energy the Earth receives from the Sun is truly enormous. In less than one hour we receive more energy than the world consumes in a year. The sun also powers the wind, the waves, the hydrological cycle, and is

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‘stored’ in all growing plants (biomass). The fossil fuels we consume today are the product of the energy in sunlight assimilated by plants and organisms over the past millennia. Renewable energy technologies convert these ‘ambient’ energies like sunlight and wind into more useful forms, such as electricity. Renewables have the potential to provide most, if not all, of the world’s energy demand. The question is when this will be achieved, not if. The process of tackling global climate change, caused by emissions of carbon dioxide due to burning fossil fuels, is now resulting in governments, international agencies and private industry investing in these technologies. The International Solar Energy Society (ISES) promotes all forms of renewable energy, but in this short article only PV can be described, one technology among many that can be used to harness the power of the sun.

Photovoltaic energy

Simplistically, a PV cell is a semi-conductor device which converts the energy in sunlight into electricity. The PV effect was discovered and studied in the nineteenth century, but the first spectacular practical use was to

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Ecosystem based adaptation

power satellites in the 1950s. Costs were enormous, but the ‘space race’ had no budgetary limitations. In the 1970s, an industry started to provide PV electricity for high-value remote applications; charging batteries for lighthouses, telecommunications etc. The pioneers of PV also saw the potential to provide electricity to rural homes and villages in the developing countries, but the costs were prohibitively high. Over the years, investments have been made in research and development by industry and governments to bring the cost of PV down to an affordable level. Creating an artificial market through subsidies is one way to attract private investors to finance the research and development, build large scale production factories, and erect solar power stations. Over the past 10 years, governments in the developed countries, for example Germany, Japan, Spain, Italy have passed laws that require the electric utilities to buy electricity generated with PV, through a ‘feed-in tariff ’. The tariff is set much higher than the normal price a consumer would pay for electricity, guaranteed in various ways for perhaps 20 years, and high enough to attract private investors to install PV systems and make a handsome return. To pay for this, the utilities charge all consumers a higher price for electricity. Individuals put PV on their rooftops, while companies build multi-MW PV power stations. Even the UK has now introduced a very generous feed-in tariff. The householder with PV on the roof can get GBP 0.41/kWh for 25 years, while the consumer price of electricity is GBP 0.11/kWh. This is a much better return than savings in the bank, and tax-free! The effect of these policies has been a spectacular growth in the world PV market, which is now over 6 GW/year. But the market is in the developed countries like those mentioned above, while providing electricity in developing countries amounts to less than per cent of the market.

What about developing countries?

Around two billion people in the world do not have access to adequate clean water supplies, electric lighting, primary health care, education and other basic services. At the Millennium Assembly of the UN in 2000, all 191 members of the UN adopted the eight Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), and set clear and ambitious targets for improving the conditions of disadvantaged people by 2015. The MDGs do not include providing electricity as such, but it has been shown that there are clear linkages between energy access and all eight goals. The focus of the programmes of many development assistance agencies (bilateral and multilateral donors, development banks, NGOs) are now clearly aimed at poverty alleviation in general, and at achieving the MDG targets in particular. PV electricity can provide adequate lighting and internet for schools, pump clean drinking water, refrigerate vaccines in health centres, and much more. Over the past 15 years there have been projects in all developing countries to use PV for these purposes. Most have been supported by donors, and in particular by the multilateral institutions like UN Development Programme (UNDP), UNEP and the World Bank Group, using grants provided by the | 30 |

Global Environment Facility (GEF). But there are always arguments about any form of subsidy, while the rich world is subsidising rich people to create the PV market. There are islands of success, but it is predicted that there will still be 1.4 billion people without electricity in 2030.


About half of the World’s unelectrified people live in South Asia. PV may be expensive, but poor people can afford it if there is the right enabling mechanism. One of the world’s most outstanding successes bringing PV to poor rural people is that of Grameen Shakti (meaning Village Power in Bengali) in Bangladesh. This was set up by the Grameen Bank in 1996, a bank that knows how to deal with poor customers, through its branches in 36,000 villages. Shakti provides solar home systems on credit and collects the repayments effectively. In 2009, 114,000 systems were supplied, and the target for 2010 is 220,000, making Grameen Shakti one of the largest and fastest growing solar companies in the developing world, and has received several international awards. India has a long history of working with solar energy, and was the first country to establish a ministry dedicated to renewable energy sources. The country has the second fastest growing economy in the world (after China), but there are still around 400 million people without access to electricity. There is a huge experience with small PV systems and many success stories, but still small compared to the challenge. In November 2009 the Indian Government announced the Jawaharlal Nehru National Solar Mission which has the ambitious target of installing 20 GW of large-scale grid connected PV and solar-thermodynamic (concentrating solar power, CSP) by 2022. This is to be achieved through incentives and feed-in tariffs similar to those that have been successful in Germany and Spain. Even though the finer details of the incentives have yet to be worked out, manufacturers, investors and developers are coming together to build a plant, such as that illustrated. This part of the Mission will not really benefit the unelectrified rural poor, but there is a second component of two GW of off-grid PV in the same timescale. This is very exciting, and if achieved could bring electricity to everyone. This Mission will support a huge expansion of PV manufacturing for the domestic market which will be created (a difference to China where the PV manufacturing has expanded rapidly to become the largest in the world, but with virtually 100 per cent for export). Pakistan was one of the first countries to try small PV pumps for irrigation (the author contributed). But this was some 30 years ago and the technology was primitive and too expensive, and despite a huge potential demand there was no market development. Today there are around one million agricultural tubewells which consume about 20 per cent of the electricity delivered by the national grid, so it is encouraging that a new project supported by the World Bank has been launched to use PV as an alternative. Sri Lanka is a relatively small country, but it is also a PV success story; with capital subsidies about 120,000 solar systems have been installed. Funds to develop the market have included GEF grants and IDA credits. There are now 15 local solar companies competing for business.

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Ecosystem based adaptation

A solar shop in Nairobi. There are a lot of products to choose from, and it is easy to buy your ideal PV system.


Sub-Sahara Africa is probably the biggest challenge to provide electricity for all, with people widely disbursed in small villages with little chance of the electricity grid reaching them. In East Africa, 90 per cent of the population live in rural areas, and less than two per cent of them have access to electricity. But the rural areas are bathed in sunlight, and solar PV is the logical choice to provide electricity and the services it can provide. Governments have made political commitments and targets for rural electrification, for example Kenya 22 per cent by 2012, Tanzania 20 per cent by 2010, and Uganda 10 per cent by 2012, but these are probably unattainable by conventional (i.e. grid extension or diesel generators) means. All three countries have considerable experience with PV; Kenya is a particular success with private dealers and a good maintenance network. Zimbabwe was the first African country to have a PV module assembly plant, and the location for the first GEF supported PV project, lunched by UNDP in 1993. There were early successes and the project achieved its aim of helping pioneering companies, and installing 9,000 solar lighting systems. The marked was developing well, but later imports of low-quality PV modules and then the run-away inflation has not allowed the potential to be achieved. After South Africa achieved majority India follows the world trend with feed-in tariffs and investment in solar power stations: 3MW PV plant currently under construction at Belgaum in Karnataka State. This will feed electricity into the grid. There are several projects including 40 MW and bigger planned.

rule, donors were lining up to provide gifts of solar, including complete manufacturing plants. There have been numerous projects with successes and failures. One serious sociological problem was that rural people who had been denied electricity during the apartheid years when offered PV saw it as ‘second class’, not as good as extending the electricity grid. As such it is important to use PV in schools, both to provide services like lighting and internet, but also to demonstrate to the students that PV is indeed superior to burning ever more coal! Mozambique is now embarking on a PV electrification programme that is interesting because the government established the agency Fundo Nacional de Energia (FUNAE) to do this, financed from the proceeds of taxes on fossil fuels.

What’s needed now?

Political initiatives, starting in Germany, have created today’s world PV market. Many of the same arguments, like reducing carbon emissions, developing new clean technology, creating green jobs can be used, but with the aim of mobilising intellectual and financial resources to create the PV market where it makes more sense. But the subsidised market building in the developed world should not be curtailed, as we should be everywhere moving in the direction of a world served totally by renewable energy. We have now launched the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) and it is hoped that other international agencies will create initiatives to solar power the world.

Prof. Bernard McNelis is Managing Director and was co-founder of ITPower and a member of the ISES Board of Directors, representing the UK. He has previously served as Vice-President of ISES and Chairman of UK-ISES, and in 2001 received the ISES Achievement through Action Award. He is an expert on renewable energy and has completed assignments in more than 50 developing countries. In 2006 he received the Robert Hill Award for the Promotion of Photovoltaics for Development. ITPower is a British research and consulting firm specialising in renewable energy and low-carbon technologies and strategies, and has been engaged by all of the UN Agencies including UNEP. Over the past 30 years, more than 1,100 projects have been successfully completed in over 105 countries worldwide. The International Solar Energy Society (ISES) is a UN accredited, multi-faceted, global membership organisation with individual and corporate members in more than 110 countries and Sections in over 50 countries. Since 1954, ISES supports the science, technology, policy and education to advance renewable energy. The ISES vision is: ‘Rapid transition to a renewable energy world.’ Email: Websites:

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Ecosystem based adaptation

Termite inspired ventilation systems help keep buildings cool. Source: flickr/David W. Siu

Bryony Schwan Executive Director, The Biomimicry Institute

Mimicking nature to mitigate climate change


s scientists and policymakers scramble for solutions to mitigate climate change and reduce the anthropogenic emissions of greenhouse gases, much of the discourse has focused on carbon dioxide (CO2) sequestration. How can we capture CO2 and lock it away below the Earth’s crust? Yet, while we view carbon as a problem, nature views it as a resource and an essential building block. When it comes to climate change, our problemsolving methodology so far has taken the standard high-tech, high-risk, ‘band-aid’ approach. But what if we could, like nature, consider carbon not as a problem but as a building material? That’s essentially what Dr Brent Constanz and his company, Calera, have done. The CO2 emitted by coal- or gas-fired power plants is captured and converted into calcium and magnesium carbonates

26 GC/GMEF | Nairobi | 21-24 February 2011

for use in manufacturing carbon-negative products such as sand, aggregate, supplementary cementitious materials, and cement, as well as fresh water.

What if we could, like nature, consider carbon not as a problem but as a building material? According to the company, “the heart of the Calera process is the formation of novel, metastable calcium and magnesium carbonate and bicarbonate minerals, similar to those found in the skeletons of marine animals and plants, by capturing carbon dioxide from flue gas and converting

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Ecosystem based adaptation

The PAX propellor modeled on the ubiquitous logarithmic spiral found in nature. © PAX Scientific, Inc. All rights reserved.

the gas to stable solid minerals.” The company refers to this process as mineralisation via aqueous precipitation (MAP) and it essentially mimicks the process of coral reef formation. For every tonne of coal burned, approximately 2.5 tonnes of CO2 are produced. Using the MAP process, two tonnes of product can be made from every tonne of carbon dioxide captured. Cornell University researcher Dr Geoffrey Coates and colleagues at Novomer LLC are also using carbon as a feedstock. Coates has developed a process to make plastic from citrus waste and CO2. In the same way that plants turn CO2 into polymers (sugars and polysaccharides), Coates’s catalyst allows CO2 from waste gases to be the feedstock for polycarbonates that ultimately return to the Earth (they’re biodegradable).

Biomimicry is a new science that studies nature’s best ideas and then imitates these designs and processes to solve human problems. According to Novomer, their “groundbreaking technology allows carbon dioxide and carbon monoxide to be cost-effectively transformed into polymers, plastics and other chemicals for a wide variety of industrial markets. [Whereas] other environmentally friendly materials utilise expensive, limited, food feed-stocks and costly biological production processes, Novomer uses CO2 as a major input in a competitively priced, precisionquality, chemical process that produces a class of uniform polymers, plastics and other chemicals.” So the question arises, how else could nature help us address climate change? Are there other strategies in nature | 34 |

that could help us fix carbon, or even better, help us develop technologies that eliminate or reduce carbon and other emissions in the first place? Biomimicry identifies just such a solution set – strategies invented and fine-tuned through evolution. Whether in energy, material manufacture, healthcare, recycling, chemistry, engineering, computing, or trade, organisms have managed to do everything we want to do without guzzling fossil fuels, polluting the planet, or mortgaging their future. In fact, recent studies of human and non-human ‘patents’ have shown that industrial technologies usually involve adding more energy or materials to solve an engineering difficulty, whereas insects, plants, birds, and other animals use elegant design and information to do more with less. Their solutions are built into the structure and organisation of their body parts, into their physiology and behaviour, and into their ecosystemlevel connections. Instructively, they have managed to meet their needs while creating and regulating, on a planetary level, the conditions conducive to life. Biomimicry (from ‘bios’, meaning life, and ‘mimesis’, meaning to imitate) is a new science that studies nature’s best ideas and then imitates these designs and processes to solve human problems. Here are a few strategies from nature that might help us in our efforts to combat climate change.

There are lots of ways we might look to nature to make our current technologies more efficient, learning from the shapes and designs of other organisms whose survival depends on efficiency. Ever wondered why you see the same spiral shape everywhere in nature from tornados, whirlpools, shells and lilies to the way seeds are arranged in a sunflower? In nature, liquids and gases flow in geometrically consistent, three-dimensional, centripetal swirling patterns, with far less friction and more efficiency. Jay Harmon of PAX Scientific, a marine biologist turned innovator, has designed fans, propellers and turbines based on this nature-inspired shape that can reduce energy use from 30-70 per cent depending upon application. There are other lessons in the fluid dynamics or aerodynamic shapes found in nature. Take a humpback whale’s flipper, for example, which has prominent nodules called tubercles along its edge to improve fluid flow. In wind tunnel experiments, the scalloped flipper has proven to be a more efficient wing design than the straight and smooth leading edges used on aircraft. Tests show that nodule-edged flippers reduce drag by 32 per cent and increase lift by six per cent. Dr Frank E. Fish from West Chester University in Pennsylvania is now applying this tubercle technology to develop more efficient wind turbines and fans.

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Ecosystem based adaptation

There are lots of ways we might look to nature to make our current technologies more efficient, learning from the shapes and designs of other organisms whose survival depends on efficiency. There is perhaps an even bigger opportunity in paying attention to how other organisms derive their energy. While we humans are struggling to wean ourselves off our addiction to oil, the rest of the planet runs primarily on solar energy. Plant biologists and engineers are looking to leaves to help them make smaller and more efficient solar cells. A leaf has tens of thousands of tiny photosynthetic reaction centres that operate at 93 per cent quantum efficiency, producing energy silently with water, sunlight and no toxic chemicals. Mimics of these molecular-scale solar batteries could one day be used to split water into clean-burning hydrogen gas and oxygen, or as computer switching devices that shuttle light instead of electrons. NexTech Materials Ltd. is developing a dye-sensitised solar cell that mimics photosynthesis to maximise light harvesting and increase the efficiency of conversion of sunlight to electricity.

While we humans are struggling to wean ourselves off our addiction to oil, the rest of the planet runs primarily on solar energy. Other alternative energy technologies inspired by nature include microbe-inspired replacement of platinum catalysts in fuel cells and lung-inspired fuel cell optimisation. One reason fuel cells are so expensive is the use of platinum in the membrane that conducts the hydrogen chemistry. Cyanobacteria catalyse this same reaction at extraordinary rates using an enzyme created from abundant metals. Cedric Tard and Christopher Pickett of the John Innes Centre in the UK have successfully mimicked the active site at the heart of the hydrogenase protein. The resulting iron-sulphur framework functions as an electrocatalyst for proton reduction, a potentially important step towards inexpensive materials to replace platinum in the anodes of fuel cells. Morgan Fuel Cell’s (UK) patented ‘biomimetic’ bipolar plate technology (electrodes) drew its inspiration from the branching structures in animal lungs and plant tissues. The bipolar plates of the fuel cell contain two large conduits that feed into a system of capillaries. As with the lung, this maximising of surface area for gas exchange allows gases to flow through the plate in a far more efficient way than has ever been achieved before. The biomimetic bipolar plates are cheaper to produce, and they boost peak power by 16 per cent, while improving water management, enhancing reliability, and reducing backpressure. Aside from reducing emissions and developing alternative energy, we also need to consider the energy use and emissions associated with manufacturing and here yet again

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nature has lessons to teach us. Much of our manufacturing uses the traditional ‘heat, beat and treat’ technologies but not the spider, nor the abalone sea snail. The spider manufactures silk five times stronger and more flexible than steel using benign, low-energy manufacturing. Abalones manufacture a ceramic considerably more beautiful and durable than any ceramic we have ever produced but in ambient water temperature with no toxic chemicals or high pressure. Mother-of-pearl, also called nacre, is renowned in scientific circles because it is twice as tough as our high-tech ceramics. Researchers have now developed a nanoscale, layered material that comes close to nacre’s properties, including its iridescence. This water-based, low temperature process allows liquid building blocks to self-assemble and harden into coatings that can toughen windshields, bodies of solar cars, airplanes or anything that needs to be lightweight but fracture resistant. Silicon chips are currently processed in energy intensive and highly toxic ways. Marine sponges, on the other hand, form silica structures in ambient conditions with the help of a protein called silicatein. Researchers at the University of California, Santa Barbara have created a mimic of this protein called a cysteine-lysine block copolypeptide. Lab results confirm that these molecules are able to direct formation of ordered silica structures, just as silicatein does. This creates the possibility of developing a non-toxic, low temperature approach to silica chip manufacture. Finding a solution to climate change is no easy endeavour and hundreds of organisations and government agencies are working on this issue. However, we do know that the built environment is responsible for much of our energy use and CO2 emissions. According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency, buildings in the US consume 36 per cent of nation’s energy and 65 per cent of electricity consumption. Buildings are responsible for 30 per cent of greenhouse gas emissions.

Finding a solution to climate change is no easy endeavour and hundreds of organisations and government agencies are working on this issue. The opportunities to reduce energy use in buildings by learning from nature are many. Mick Pearce Architects and Arup Engineering collaborated on a mid-rise building in Zimbabwe that has no air-conditioning, yet stays cool thanks to a termite-inspired ventilation system. The Eastgate building is modelled on a local termite species that maintains the temperature inside their nest to within one degree of 31°C, day and night, summer and winter while the external temperature varies between 3°C and 42°C. The Eastgate complex uses only 10 per cent of the energy used by a conventional building of the same size.

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Ecosystem based adaptation

Mother-of-pearl, also called nacre, is renowned in scientific circles because it is twice as tough as our high-tech ceramics.

Prairies – temperate grass and shrublands – hold the soil, resist pests and weeds, and bolster their own fertility, all without our help. Prairie-like polycultures using edible perennial crops and biofuel candidates like switch grass would, over winter, making ploughing or planting every year obsolete. These mixtures of plants would also give farms resilience, reducing the need for oil-based pesticides. These are just a few of hundreds of examples of how researchers and designers are creating new technologies that, by following nature’s principles, are both highly efficient and environmentally sustainable. After 3.8 billion years of evolution, nature has learned what works, what is appropriate, and what lasts. [Additional research provided by Janine Benyus.]

Vapour-absorbing insects are inspiring a new building dehumidification device that would absorb moisture in humid air and wick it away for collection using a very small amount of energy. Researchers at the Centre for Biomimetic and Natural Technologies at the University of Bath in England are studying how desert cockroaches gather water to develop a new kind of dehumidifier technology. Dehumidifying air in a city like Atlanta, GA before it is cooled would save on energy (drier air takes less energy to cool), reduce toxic mould, and potentially provide a new source of potable water. According to the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, desiccant systems could potentially save about 400 trillion Btu (British thermal units) of energy each year in US buildings and prevent the emission of more than 24 million tonnes of carbon dioxide (CO2) by 2010. Desiccant dehumidification could reduce total residential electricity demand by as much as 25 per cent in humid regions.

We shouldn’t miss the opportunity to look for climate change solutions at the systems level by learning from whole natural ecosystems. Aside from studying individual species and how they have developed elegant, well-adapted strategies, we shouldn’t miss the opportunity to look for climate change solutions at the systems level by learning from whole natural ecosystems. Instead of an extractive agriculture that mimics industry, prairie-inspired farming is a self-renewing agriculture that mimics nature while sequestering significant amounts of carbon. | 36 |

Bryony Schwan is Executive Director and co-founder of The Biomimicry Institute, a non-profit organisation that promotes the new science of biomimicry. Schwan is also an affiliate faculty member at the University of Montana where she teaches in the Environmental Studies programme. Prior to this, she worked for 11 years as the Executive Director and then National Campaigns Director for Women’s Voices for the Earth (WVE), a nonprofit environmental justice organisation that she founded in 1995. Born in Zimbabwe, she moved to the US in 1981. She has an MS in Environmental Studies from the University of Montana. The Biomimicry Institute, co-founded in 2005 by science writer Janine Benyus, is a non-profit organisation that promotes the study and imitation of nature’s remarkably efficient designs in creating sustainable technologies. Benyus also co-founded the Biomimicry Guild, which brings scientists, engineers, architects and innovators together to collaborate and develop green, nature-inspired solutions. The Biomimicry Institute does not conduct its own research but serves as a clearinghouse and resource for those who do. Biomimicry is a new science that studies nature’s best ideas and then imitates these designs and processes to solve human problems. The Biomimicry Institute P.O. Box 9217 Missoula, MT 59807 USA Email: Websites:

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Climate Action Climate Action is a multimedia platform consisting of a website, newsletter and annual publication, produced in partnership with UNEP. It aims to encourage businesses and large organisations to reduce their carbon footprint, and puts forward the business case for climate change – namely, that environmentally responsible operations can also be profitable. It is produced by Green Media Ltd., which is part of the respected Henley Media Group.

GREEN TECHNOLOGY EXHIBITION Green Technology for a low carbon future

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Green Technology Exhibition Brochure  

Showguide from the Green Technology Exhibition held at the UNEP 26th session GC/GMEF.