Vinnie teaches sorting out waste like never before!

The South Australia’s Government initiative to educate the citizens in recycling campaign called is a step in the right direction. While South Australia has always been at top in recycling across Australia, citizens have not been wary about recycling the proper way. We are confounded by which items belongs to which bin almost on daily basis.

The campaign’s background work is quite strong as it addresses all the challenges faced by the general public.The campaign shows a family with its head Vinnie with daily dilemmas on how to sort out the garbage right and with a bit of humour involved, it seems to have struck the right cord. helps citizens make light work of sorting household waste. Councils, businesses involved in this can lend a big help in putting waste management the right way.

The importance of a successfully run campaign cannot be undermined. Successful campaigns can have a dramatic decrease in CO2 emissions as it happened in Vejle a town in Denmark where their successful campaign led to decrease of 11.5K tons of CO2. Our Councils can take further inspiration from the Municipality of Vejle, Denmark which convert the waste to biofuels which is then used to run the garbage trucks. The Municipality further plans to run all transport buses on biofuels.

We hope that such like campaigns will have a profound effect on the reductions in the emissions.Educating the public including the children and the young people through   exhibitions, events, social media will help address the global goals of quality education, responsible production and consumption and good health and well being.

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Rejecting the power to waste

We may have called them stodgy for doing it but our parents practiced it persistently. So why are we abandoning it? I am talking about environmental consciousness.

Growing up in 80s and 90s, conservation and environmental consciousness were part of a typical Asian household. ‘Less is more’ was the mantra and as I look back now, the key to our emotional well being. There was one TV which the whole family would sit together to watch. All extra lights would be off in rooms not being used. In summers, the entire family would huddle together in one room to cool down in the air conditioner. Wardrobes were kept simple and minimal. Already worn shirts would be spruced up by add-ons like laces, buttons, ornaments years after its original stitching, the ‘dopatta’ (scarf) would be converted into another top. Worn out clothing still had purpose and value and its last use would be of a duster for home cleaning.

In the kitchen, things were no different. Food conservation was every bit as important as energy conservation. We were reprimanded for wasting food. The leftover beans would either be added in a quick omelette or mixed with rice. A slight dent on a fruit, a mutant looking banana was meant to be eaten and enjoyed. Making tea in the saucepan meant pouring as much water as is required rather than boiling a kettle full of water and wasting energy.

The use of plastic and plastic packaging was minimal. Yogurt and water were stored in earthen bowls and containers. Kitchen paper towels were unheard of. Duster and cleaning cloth was used to spruce up the kitchen.

There was little waste generated . Everything was used and reused until it fell apart. Birthdays meant all wrapping papers patiently folded and stored under the matresses. All bottles, boxes, cups, glasses, stashed away in storage cabinets for later use. Most of us remember the famous Royal Dane biscuits box that mums used as a sewing and stitching tool box. In short, everything was used and nothing got wasted.

I then moved to the West where waste was the way of life. Everything from food, plastic use, wardrobe, technology gadgets, electricity use , triple folded. The ‘less is more’ mantra seemed quite undesirable. Who had the time, effort, and brian space to make environmental considerations in daily life. So it was okay to use and abuse substances. Throwing away a soggy cabbage lying for weeks in the crisper did not bring guilt, drinking water from disposable bottles and throwing them away was just another norm. Like me, most of our fellow Asians have similar experiences to share, practicing the power to waste and being at a total conflict with our more ‘environmental conscious’ backgrounds.

But now, as climate change, unsustainable practices in daily life like food, plastic and energy waste have captured world headlines, a renaissance of my parents mind set is taking place. The wisdom of my parents’ generation is speaking to me again.

We need to stop yearning for this unsustainable, convenience culture and realign our values around environmental consciousness.

More than ever before, we need a happy, healthy environment and community today for ourselves and for the coming generations.

So how can we practice sustainability and environmental consciousness in our daily lives without doing too much.

Below are some easy adjustments that we can sneak in our day that can go a long way: (suggestions are inspired by The Sustainability Co-Op blog which is an effort to understand and communicate the interconnectedness between global and local societal needs and environmental concerns.)

Start small but consistent

 Integrating sustainability into our daily life does not have to be nerve-wrecking experience. We can practice sustainability by making small changes and turn them into lifelong habits. These small changes can add up to a big impact! Equally important is to understand what we can and cannot commit to in the long-run, as well as an understanding of the reasons behind certain actions (or inactions).

Less plastic is fantastic

 Unfortunately, plastic is part of most our purchases and integrated into our daily life. Single use plastic such as bags, disposable water bottles, beverages, food containers, and straws have negative environmental impacts throughout their lifecycle: from being made from fossil fuels to ending up as litter. It’s estimated that plastic bags will take 500-1000 years to biodegrade,  but the good news is that we can reduce our use of plastic.

  • We can use reusable bags for grocery shopping.
  • When we are out and about, rely on reusable water bottle
  • Pack school lunches in reusable containers

Do good, save food

 Our moms were right. Wasting food is bad. Especially when one reads horrific stats about one third of the world food produce going to waste. So lets make food waste a thing of past. And guess what, it all starts in the grocery store! This is what we can do:

  • Make an inventory of items that we have in the fridge and pantry before heading out to the grocery shops.
  • Keep track of what we and our family eat every week and limit our grocery purchases accordingly
  • Love our leftovers. Food tastes amazingly delicious the second day!
  • Don’t judge fruits and vegetables by their appearance. Lots of tasty and nutritious fruits and vegetables do not get sold because they fail to meet the beauty standards. All fruit and veg are great. Next time go for that mutant looking carrot or that weird shaped strawberry.

Unplug electronics

Lets save energy for a better tomorrow. Certain tech products use electricity when they’re plugged in but not turned on. These products are nicknamed “energy vampires”. Unplug cellphones, tablets, laptops once they are charged.

Teach children about environmental consciousness and living modestly

 Kids witness their parents interact with the natural environment at every turn—it’s only fitting that we become teachers and positive role models of green living. We can do this by taking them for outdoor activities and let them explore the natural world around them of dirt, trees, sky etc. We can read them books that inspire them to have a sense of responsibility to take care of their environment, talk about real world problems of water and energy conservation to raise their and our own eco-consciousness to make a difference.

Lets try one or two things above-mentioned and relish in the knowledge that by being kind to the world around us we have been kind to ourselves.



Posted in climate change, Conservation, Eco Conscious, Environmental Consciousness, Minimalism, Unsustainable Practices | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

When crisis is the new normal, turn aspirations into action

Mother Nature has put on a storming show since late August. While all eyes were on the devastation from Hurricane Harvey in Texas, Hurricane Irma has made landfall in Caribbean and closing in on Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands with Florida in its projected path. A week back, more than 8,000 miles away , catastrophic floods wreaked havoc in South Asia. Unusually heavy monsoon rains over the last several weeks have killed over 1,000 people across India, Nepal, Bangladesh and Pakistan. It is not just hurricanes or monsoons. Record setting drought has led to one of the busiest fire seasons in the history of Southeastern United States as well as British Columbia.

And while it is impossible to tie a single weather event to climate change, extreme weather events like these are precisely what the climate experts have been predicting-  where normal weather events skew towards more intense and more frequent ones. That’s exactly what’s happening now.

On all sides there has been a massive human, business and infrastructure loss. Hurricane Harvey is now the third, 500 year flood to hit the Houston area in the last three years, and the worst rainstorm in U.S history. It could rank among the top costliest storms to hit the U.S with estimate of about 45 to 65 billion dollars. In South Asia, over 41 million people mostly impoverished have suffered the direct impact of the rain. 16 million children need urgent, life-saving support, according to the United Nations children’s agency. Already impoverished, rural communities have been devastated as mudslides have taken away homes –as well as people in Sierra Lone.

In the wake of all these disasters, it is easy to be overcome by a wave of fear and gloom. The environmental, social and economic shocks in a climate-changing world are affecting every one

The big question is how will we manage? It a question that is coming to the fore as countries, cities, and communities look for new ways to resist and recover quickly from the impacts of climate change.

Governments need to rethink infrastructure, land use, coastal development, energy systems and other things through the lens of climate change. Resilience must be adopted through climate adaptation and mitigation.

Governments around the world face shrinking budgets, growing costs and prolonged political debates to tackle the stress of climate change. Added to this are governance issues which have allowed unregulated metropolitan growth and inadequate building regulations making the land unavailable for water absorption .

How much is this possible in view of lack of effective climate leadership?

A look around shows the situation is not sad though. Most of the resiliency works are being lead by the cities. There is a newfound dedication in cities and communities being ‘solution-arian’ –where solutions are being sought to mitigate and adapt to climate change. These cities are investing in rebuilding their cities and contributing to climate resiliency by means of disaster relief efforts.

Below are some poignant examples that explain the concept of cities being ‘solution-arian’

Rise of Chief Resilience Officer

 In view of the federal governments lack of climate leadership, there is more focus than ever on the role of cities in addressing issues of resilience exacerbated by climate change. Under the Rockfeller Foundation’s 100 Resilient Cities Centennial Challenge , the position of Chief Resilience Officer has been created to convince the citizens of resilience’s value. CRO acts like bridges between what the government wants and what the citizens need. They increase communication between the public and private sector to build resilience in the city. They take upon hard tasks like building capacity in the community, initiating substantial behavior change and engaging citizens, businesses etc in resilience efforts. As of late July, officially 79 Chief Resilient Officers have been appointed throughout the world from Toronto to Chennai and Surat in India, Jakarta and Melbourne to name a few.


New York City’s Resilient Neighborhood Study

 After the damage done by Hurricane Sandy, New York City has conducted Resilient Neighbourhood Study to increase the resilience of buildings and livelihoods. The city’s sustainable development plan OneNYC short for “One New York: The Plan for a Strong and Just City” focuses equally on the lifting residents out of poverty as well as involving communities in emergency preparedness, build defences to rising sea levels, harden infrastructure against flooding among other things.

Cyclone Shelters, boat schools and flood resistant homes in Bangladesh

 By helping local people get access to low cost, effective technology, many NGOs have helped Bangladesh develop resilience to extreme rain and floods.

Practical Action, a British based NGO has helped build weather adaptive houses. Such houses are designed to survive torrential rains, winds and floods

 Cyclone shelters, set up with the help of USAID, have dramatically helped the coastal population in Bangladesh remain safe as powerful cyclones hit the country’s coastline. In May this year, around 3,800 relief centres were organized by the government officials in Bangladesh ahead of Cyclone Mora to help the vulnerable.

Another amazing non profit, Shidhulai Swanirvar Sngstha has developed floating schools, clinics, libraries and even floating farms when there is too much rain.

While these resilience efforts see like drop in an ocean, they present an unprecedented opportunity to work with technology, infrastructure and people to build environments that work with, rather than against the forces of nature,


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Investing in Smart Cities to improve the lives of low income residents

Can free access to the Internet, greater transit mobility, and smart cities technologies enhance access to opportunity and social mobility? Can technology solve income inequalities and make prosperity within reach of everyone?

Today,  75% of the world’s cities have higher levels of income inequality than two decades ago. By the early 2030s, 2 billion people will be living below the poverty line in cities and 1 billion new homes will be needed by 2025.

A look at the figure below shows how inequality has risen all over the world amongst the developed and the developing countries in the past few decades.

gini line chart

For people to succeed in life they need safe and healthy environments, access to jobs, goods and services, supportive beneficial institutions like good schools, community centres, efficacious and supportive social networks with knowledge and willingness to help out.

How do Smart City experts weigh in on assisting the vulnerable section of the society towards upwards mobility and opportunity?  Can they move out of the silos of energy, trash management, transportation to thinking how well can their efforts improve the welfare of the citizens in addition to making the city more efficient and organised? How city leaders and other stakeholders can leverage smart technologies to end suffering in their communities and give all citizens a route out of poverty? Here lies a big opportunity for smart city experts, public officials, low income advocates, technology designers to think about what smart city investments can do help create a more humane city.

Technology presents one of the best tools for city leaders to help low-income citizens become more visible, empowered, and prosperous. By facilitating improved delivery of government services and increased access to opportunity, technology can offer tangible hope for the most disadvantaged.  Below are some examples:

Blockchain technology comes to the benefit of the poor

Clever Codes Disrupt Inequality


People living without adequate records are often locked into poverty and exclusion. As many as 2 billion people worldwide are without a bank account. They tend to use only physical currency, making them vulnerable to theft. Furthermore, they cannot borrow money via a formal loan, nor can they access most insurance. Blockchain can correct this systemic failure that excludes too many from the economy by enabling people to get a digital identity. Simply put, blockchain is an open source digital ledger that acts like an accounting book and tracks all transactions. Everyone owns it but no one individual can make changes, making it tamper-proof. Blockchain allows people to prove their identity, enabling them to record transactions – and, hence, enter the global economy.

How technology came to the rescue of a city besieged by crime

New Jersey, U.S.A has the nation’s seventh  highest income gap between richest and poorest residents. Wages have barely budged for middle- and lower-income workers. Camden, New Jersey with highest income inequality was also besieged by violent crimes. Labelled as the most dangerous city in the U.S.  and now hailed as an example of a city where intrusive tools like  surveillance cameras, microphones, a fleet of police cars with scanners  and other community policing tactics resulted towards reducing crime and repairing relationship between the police community and residents of Camden. It was later also highlighted in the media for its world.

Bridgespan Group – bridging the gap for low income individuals

Low income individuals and families have lack of access to good quality education, health services and job opportunities.

The Bridgespan Group, a nonprofit working to advance philanthropic effectiveness, undertook an in-depth research effort framed around how a philanthropic investment of $1 billion could dramatically increase upward social mobility for low-income individuals and families.

They ultimately did a deep dive detailing the ROI on six promising billion-dollar investments their research identified:

  1. Improve early childhood development
  2. Establish clear and viable pathways to careers
  3. Decrease rates of conviction and incarceration
  4. Reduce unintended pregnancies
  5. Reduce the effect of concentrated poverty on the lives of people living in distressed neighborhoods
  6. Improve the performance of public systems that administer and oversee social services

This is a very good example of how technology can help solve income inequality and make prosperity within everyone’s reach.

Technology- Giving data and statistics a human face

With a goal to end extreme poverty by 2030, it’s important to have accurate data on what’s working and where progress is being made – and not being made. World Bank and countries it works with are transitioning from the days of using paper and pens to collect household data about poverty levels to using technologies that produce more and better data about poverty.

Listening to Africa (L2A) initiative collects information on living conditions on the continent. L2A has piloted the use of mobile phones to monitor well-being, starting with face-to-face interviews and then regularly following up with interviews by phone. It hands out mobile phones and solar chargers to participants.

Some more ways to modernising the collection of data on poverty.

  • Putting a human face on poverty: In the World Bank’s Pulse of South Sudan initiative (video link), tablets are used not only to collect data, but also to record short, personalized testimonials from the people interviewed – giving the data and statistics a human face.
  • Smart Survey boxes: In energy-challenged Tajikistan in Central Asia, teams are installing technology to monitor energy usage. By automatically sending information on outages in real time, the smart boxes can help identify patterns.
  • Satellite imagery: In Mexico the World Bank and partners are using satellite images along with survey data to get a better estimate of the number of people living below the poverty line down to the municipal level.

Connecting the dots between smarter cities and smarter schools

Research indicates that children who grow up in low-income households hear approximately 30 million fewer words than children from middle-income and affluent families by the time they reach their fourth birthday

In early 2014, “Providence Talks,” a new intervention program was designed to boost early childhood literacy development and raise the percentage of students who enter kindergarten ready for academic success.

The School of One (So1),  DigiLit Leicester, eClass, Kodu are examples of how technology help improve the low income community get better education in the classroom and beyond.

Technology has the power to improve broken systems and change lives for the low income section of any society.

Posted in Citizen Centric, Education, Inequality, Smart Cities, Smart Citizens, Smart City Technologies | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Citizens are foundations of Smart cities

When government officials and C-level executives came together in September 2016, from around the world to attend an executive 3 day Conference in Yinchuan, China, they agreed that without the fourth ‘p’ i.e ‘People’ in the PPP (public-private partnership) model, there will be no value creation. Increasingly, there is a clear shift to discussions about Smart Cities around citizens and humanising technology.

In June 2016, The Australian federal government released Smart Cities Plan, built on three pillars: smart investment, smart policy and smart technology. Yet, it also suggested that:

Cities are first and foremost for people.


If our cities are to continue to meet their residents’ needs, it is essential for people to engage and participate in planning and policy decisions that have an impact on their lives.

Despite this quintessential policymaking statement, the plan largely uses language that conveys a limited role for people in cities: they live, work and consume. The absence of a more thorough response is surprising considering the rich body of work calling for better human engagement in the smart city agenda.

Technology is advancing too rapidly and if not handled correctly, technology solutions can feel imposed, rather than inclusive. Cities can be perceived to be tackling the ‘wrong’ problems or introducing ‘technology for technology’s sake’ and therefore failing to deliver value. Citizens need to feel part of the changes in their city.

If people are not involved, it can result in failures. For example, in India, in 2015, Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched the Smart Cities Mission (SCM) to enable the holistic development of cities. This initiative aimed to drive economic growth and improve the quality of life of people by enabling local development and harnessing technology as a means to create smart outcomes for citizens. It also set up a platform —- —- for better consultation between the government and citizens. But as cities launched their multi-crore urban renewal programmes, a few faltered badly on citizen’s participation. Take for example, Dehra Dun. Last year Doonites bulldozed their way into a smart city project and demanded their right to have a say in the planning process because they did not agree with the local government’s environmentally-destructive plans. Then there are examples of Bhubaneswar and Chennai: Both cities successfully demonstrated the positive impact of citizen’s participation in planning for SCM.

Technology can offer new creative solutions but it should always remain a means to an end at the service of the citizens. Citizens are the key to designing, building and making future smart cities. Citizen engagement should be the number one priority as citizens reflect the community needs. Therefore, smart city projects need to be set up after several deliberations with the residents of the city.

Smart city projects also help set up a platform for better consultation between government and citizens. City officials and urban experts should be trained to conduct meaningful and ethical engagement of citizens.

The Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET) has called for a public engagement campaign around the benefits of smart cities, following research which suggested there is ‘public apathy’ around the technology.

The Smart Cities – Time to involve the people report found that just 18 percent of the British public has heard of a ‘smart city’ and that there is a lack of consumer consensus on the relevance of technologies typically associated with smart cities. In India, one of the reasons of roll out of smart city projects was that it was presupposed citizens have a certain level of digital literacy and access to technology.

A European manifesto on Citizen Engagement focuses on collaborating on the following initiatives:

  • To raise citizen awareness of the potential advantages and benefits of smart city projects
  • Develop and exploit new and existing collaborative models
  • Improve procurement and assessment procedures
  • Promote the use of open data and appropriate access to data by citizens
  • Promote open science and open innovation to foster smart citizens
  • Leadership in citizens engagement

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University of Adelaide-planting the seed for a sustainable society

At a time when businesses are under constant pressure to view their operations and impacts through the lens of sustainability, universities can play a significant role in forging the path to a sustainable future.Frequently regarded as well-established and respected organisations,universities have a unique and influential role to play in the quest for a more sustainable future. Universities act as a microcosm of the city and therefore can act as a real world laboratory with the purpose of addressing sustainability issues. Within the context of topics such as resource utilisation in food production and consumption and encouraging voluntary action in reducing waste and energy useage, universities are the best place to devise and test new initiatives to improve sustainability.     An institution’s efforts alone  mean nothing if they are unable to share their learning, experiences, successes and areas with local leaders and partners in general. This learning is of great value to the society and the environment.

The City of Adelaide is on a mission to be the first carbon neutral city by 2050. This cannot be achieved without the participation of institutions that prepare the next generation of society’s leaders for a sustainable future . Therefore it was a very pleasant news to learn that University of Adelaide, a respectable name in the research, innovation and creative thinking, has structured an initiative in sustainability by launching Campus Sustainability Program. University of Adelaide is a world class research-intensive institute which can create sustainability focused research opportunities and help engage students from multiple disciplines – like engineering, business, political science, humanities to promote sustainability at the campus and in the community, in general. The document highlights the university’s commitment to a sustainable future by collaborating with students, faculty, administrators working across the departments to create a road map to a sustainable campus.

What I find inspiring about their approach is that that they  leverage an engaged and vibrant student community, supported by an equally engaged employees community who think about sustainability holistically. By incorporating all three elements of  Triple Bottom Line i.e environment, economy, and society, they have devised some successful programs like ‘Ecoversity‘, ‘Green Project Fund’ in the past that have celebrated great success in engaging campus community and can boast of key achievements like 176% increase in recycling across all University campuses since 2011.

The present document  revolves around 3 elements :   Campus Transformation, Collaboration and Inspiration. The strategic plan will be achieved through 31 sustainability initiatives, grouped into five streams of work: Carbon Reduction, Water Efficiency, Engagement Activities, training and Skills and Investment and Purchasing. Investing  in these five areas will not only help the campus transform into a sustainable campus but they will also help the City of Adelaide transformation to a Carbon Neutral Adelaide. These strategies align with Carbon Neutral Adelaide initiative and it is expected will help not only advancing sustainability through the broader economy but also embed in the campus life and most importantly help students align their academic pursuits with sustainability so that they become socially and ecologically aware responsible citizens.


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How I stopped hoping for my autistic son to become ‘normal’

Yesterday marked the 10th World Autism Awareness Day. The United Nations, which passed a unanimous resolution in 2007 designating April 2nd for autism awareness, had Autonomy and Self-Determination as this year’s theme.

One would expect that in this day and age, people would have a better idea of what autism is (or isn’t). But from activists, academics to parents, there is consensus that the situation is far from ideal and the world at large has failed to recognise the rights of people with autism.

We, the neurotypical (those who don’t fall on the spectrum of autism) in psychiatric parlance, tend to see autistic people as inherently broken and abnormal. As a result, people with autism still fall outside of the basic human rights mentioned in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and therefore, fail to develop autonomy and self-determination.

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Encouraging community action through engagement

Research literature shows that when attempts to  change energy related behaviour and emit less carbon were targeted at individuals as ‘consumers’, the results were pretty patchy.  Problems like social dilemmas, social conventions, socio-technical infrastructures and the helplessness of individuals hindered individuals in engaging in sustainable behaviour. Research in social psychology states that initiatives to promote behaviour change are most effective when they are carried out at the community level and involve direct contact with the people. Diane Warburton reiterates the same idea that sustainable development can only deliver long term dividends in social and environmental aspect when deeply rooted and nurtured at the community level.

The city of Adelaide is on a mission to become the first carbon neutral city in the world.The Council along with the State Government unanimously approved an ambitious plan that from the outset harnesses the power of engaged citizens, local business and community stakeholders. They can work closely to learn, collaborate and influence action for a carbon neutral Adelaide .

Lets inspire Adelaide with some great examples of community engagement from around the world.

Community Green Stations in Hong Kong- A car park turned into a community space for green living

Hong Kong

PHOTO: Hong Kong Waste Reduction Website 

PHOTO :  Sustainia

In Hong Kong, the municipality wanted to create a recycling station that would have a positive impact on the community. The Community Green Stations in Hong Kong were set up to promote green living and collection of recyclables at the community level. The idea was to set up a place to drop off recyclables and a place to increase awareness of waste separation and segregation. The architects wanted the Centre to be a space where public life can be nurtured as well as a sense of belonging to the community. They turned an under-utilised carpark into a gathering place. The station supports recycling efforts at the community level; and hold exhibition and educational programmes to advocate the importance of recycling.  It consists of education centre, workshop, office and ancillary facilities. It was reported that the re­cyc­ling cov­er­age increased from from 56% to 92% of the pop­u­la­tion in Sha Tin District where the Centre is located. The Centre recently won an award for best practice in land use architecture.

Blue Ap Project and Bologna Regulation on Collaboration

As cities gear up to face the challenge of climate change whether its extreme heat, rainfall that cause extreme flooding, the city of Bologna in Italy has been involved in several European projects focused on protecting the environment and urban generation. Under the BLUE AP project, Bo­logna cre­ated a local cli­mate pro­file, risk as­sess­ment, and 10-year ad­apt­a­tion plan based on ex­tens­ive com­munity en­gage­ment in or­der to safe­guard the Italian city from heavy rain, drought, and ex­treme heat.The bot­tom-up nature of the entire project bolstered com­munity en­gage­ment throughout Bo­logna.

Image result for bologna pictures


Over 500 ‘actors’ within the city were engaged in the development of the Bologna Metropolitan Strategic Plan (PSM).Citizen participation in the development of the PSM was extensive, driven by the fact that every 10 years 25% of the city’s population changes so there is need to embed the concept of citizenship; and the need to rebuild democratic confidence after the 2008 economic crisis and subsequent domestic political strife.   Under a municipal law (LR 20/2000), citizens & stakeholders sign a ‘cohabitation pact’ with the municipality to set out mutual responsibilities and commitment to solve identified problems. Social innovators, knowledge institutions, entrepreneurs agreed to enter into a co -design process.165 collaboration pacts have been adopted across Italy involving 20,000 people.

Owners and Renters collaborate to reduce energy use

In Australia, rental properties are extremely vulnerable to high rising energy pricing.  Split incentives” are a big barrier to greater energy efficiency in buildings. When building owners pay heating bills, for example, renters have no incentive to turn down their thermostats. But in Tokyo, tenants are now graded publicly by the city government for energy efficiency alongside landlords, spurring more collaboration, according to the report. Tokyo hopes to cut energy use in residential buildings by one-sixth by 2020.


As energy prices continue to rise, the gap between those who can afford to improve the energy efficiency of their property and those who cannot is growing. They can learn from Tokyo where the government is encouraging its renters and owners to collaborate on improving energy efficiency and prioritising energy efficiency upgrades.

These and many more examples of the cities around the world exist where the cities are engaging its citizens and make them part of key stakeholders in addressing environmental and sustainability issues.



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10 things I’ve learned raising my autistic son

April 2 is the eighth World Autism Awareness Day. This day is celebrated to raise awareness about different aspects of autism so that families, societies, and governments can collectively devise policies and strategies for providing a better support system to improve the lives of people with autism.

Whilst awareness about autism, a broad-spectrum disability, has been increasing, there are several misunderstanding, myths, and taboos attached, in terms of what it is and what can be done. It is a fact that people with autism are increasing Worldwide; and so should the awareness so that there can be collective effort for better intervention, leading to reduced stress on the parents, care takers, and governments.

At a playground filled with kids, Adil* excitedly runs to the swing only to find that a girl is taking it. This particular moment is a litmus test for me as I wait for my son’s reaction.

My faint smile turns into a sigh of relief when he says, “Maybe I can wait and play in sand for some time.” He runs and jumps in the sand playing with dump trucks and other toy construction vehicles.

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December 16 – A Black Day for Humanity

This post is dedicated to the tragedy struck in Pakistan . Today is a terrible terrible day for all of Pakistanis, for all of the mothers, for all the humanity. I am a mother and I am distraught to hear the tragedy that has struck in Peshawar, Pakistan. My heart like many others in the world is rending with sorrow and grief. As I stand for my namaz ,tears keep rolling down. I imagine for a second the plight of a mother who has lost her child in this tragedy and feel weak with grief. Emotions can’t keep control on themselves. I let the tears roll down because I don’t want them to stop. I let myself feel this tragedy. I let myself immerse in the numbness of the situation. I let myself grieve for more than 100 kids that have been brutally murdered in a terrorist attack. Terrorists have hit at the heart of my nation. I grieve with you Peshawar. I grieve with you Pakistan.

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