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PRESS RELEASE: The Mohammed bin Rashid Initiative for Global Prosperity launches Four Global Maker Challenges in New York with USD $1 Million Call for Action

  • The initiative invites the global community of makers and innovators to solve real world challenges
  • Challenges address Sustainable Cities, Digital Divide and Digital Literacy, Rural Transformation and Zero Hunger, and Sustainable Energy

23 September 2018—The Mohammed bin Rashid Initiative for Global Prosperity, an initiative of the Global Manufacturing and Industrialisation Summit, has launched four Global Maker Challenges at the 2018 Solve Challenge Finals hosted by MIT Solve in New York.

With monetary prizes, mentorship, and access to global organisations, worth up to USD $1 million dollars, the Mohammed bin Rashid Initiative for Global Prosperity brings together a community of ‘makers’ inspired to solve some of the world’s toughest societal challenges that affect over 1 billion people globally. Aligning with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, the initiative aims to empower entrepreneurs, innovators and technologists to drive social innovation and advance global prosperity.

The four Global Maker Challenges were identified in partnership with eight UN agencies and NGOs, and were determined through an intense roadshow in Boston, Vienna, and Cairo led by MIT Solve, an initiative of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. The challenge design workshops brought together over 300 global experts from governments, global organisations and private corporations, as well as start-up incubators and academic researchers.  

A humanitarian champion who has impacted and improved the lives of over 130 million people across 116 countries, His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the United Arab Emirates, and Ruler of Dubai, has placed great emphasis on the role of innovation to reshape industries, and strengthen economies and societies. 

The Mohammed bin Rashid Initiative for Global Prosperity combines the Global Maker Challenge, an online open-innovation platform designed to promote and accelerate global prosperity through product innovation; and the Global Prosperity Award, a prestigious global accolade that recognizes and rewards corporate social responsibility that advances resilience, community, harmony and dignity across the world.

The Global Maker Challenges for 2018 are: 

Sustainable Energy: How do the millions of people living in rural and isolated communities gain access to low carbon electricity? 

Over 1 billion people, primarily in developing countries, still lack access to electricity, and hundreds of millions more live with unreliable electricity. Moreover, 3 billion people worldwide are forced to rely on polluting fuels like wood, charcoal, and animal waste to cook and heat their homes, which both drive deforestation and expose them to dangerous levels of indoor air pollutants, resulting in at least 4 million premature deaths every year. 

Ensuring access and transition to low-carbon energy for all not only mitigates climate change by limiting greenhouse gas emissions, but also has the potential to spur progress in a host of other areas, from creating new economic opportunities and jobs to improving education and health outcomes.

Digital Divide and Digital Literacy:

How can people in remote areas access and use reliable and affordable internet connectivity?

Half of the world’s population today is still not online. While Asia has the highest number of people without access, Africa leads the world in the percentage of the population without connection at 88 percent. Furthermore, in the countries that are connected, male internet users outnumber their female counterparts in every region of the world.

Digital technologies continue to spread rapidly while providing a myriad of benefits – boosting economic growth and efficiency, enabling a more productive workforce, improving service delivery, and expanding educational opportunity. However, it is all dependent on internet connectivity and the ‘digital divide’ we face globally is a reality and a reflection of the quality of digital infrastructure in rural communities, the speed of connectivity in remote areas, and the training and skills required to navigate such technology.

Rural Transformation and Zero Hunger:

How can farmers in less developed countries increase food and cash crop yields through advanced methods of sustainable agricultural production and preservation?

Extreme poverty still affects more than 700 million people across the word. Most of them are concentrated in rural areas and rely on agriculture production to generate income. While advanced input methods have increased agricultural production over the past five decades, this has resulted in damage to the environment, including land degradation, deforestation, depletion of groundwater, and increased greenhouse gas emissions. 

These challenges are further compounded by the 1.3 billion tons of food loss, costing an estimated $1 trillion globally, that mainly occurs in many low-income countries due to poor infrastructure, and inefficiencies in storage, packing and transport infrastructure.  

Increasing crop yields and supporting rural farmers in adopting sustainable agricultural methods contributes to rising incomes, thereby reducing poverty, and in turn improving education and health outcomes for families in rural areas. Furthermore, the efficient use of land through technological innovation can increase productivity, protect natural resources and reduce waste resulting in more produce which is essential to feed the projected 9.7 billion people on earth by 2050. 

Sustainable Cities:

How can cities leverage technology to reduce the spread of infectious diseases and prevent the next pandemic?

More than half of the world’s inhabitants today live in urban areas, and 1 billion of them live in slum conditions. By 2050, an estimated 70 percent of the global population will be living in cities. Although cities provide opportunities for employment and access to better services, the unplanned and rapid urbanization of cities can create conditions that accelerate the spread of communicable diseases, especially in low-resourced neighborhoods where clean water and sanitation infrastructure is entirely lacking, aging, or cannot support high density populations. Technological advancements hold tremendous potential to combat these implications and foster healthy cities by improving a city’s readiness and responsiveness to outbreaks. 

The Mohammed bin Rashid Global Maker Challenges will seek solutions that can ensure access and transition to low-carbon energy in underserved and remote communities, tools that can deploy internet connectivity to remote populations in a sustainable and affordable way, advanced methods that can allow for higher agricultural productivity using less land, water and labor inputs, as well as innovative products that can predict, detect and monitor outbreaks to prevent the spread and transmission of infectious diseases.

During his keynote speech at the launch, Badr Al Olama, Head of the Organising Committee for the Global Manufacturing and Industrialisation Summit (GMIS), said: “The United Arab Emirates has placed innovation at the core of its manufacturing strategy since the father of our nation set out his vision for the country almost 100 years ago. By chartering a global path towards inclusive and sustainable industrial development, we must create an ecosystem that thrives on technology, creativity and community.  “Through the Mohammed bin Rashid Initiative for Global Prosperity, we can tackle key issues such as poverty, hunger, education and environmental sustainability. This is the beginning of a new movement, one where we align the aspirations of millennials with global good, channeling their energy and creativity to bring about opportunities for those that are in need, and in the communities that need it most.”

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