BEIRUT: A collaboration between the RELIEF Centre and Fast Forward 2030 conducted a discussion on how entrepreneurs can achieve the UN Sustainable Development Goals in food production and waste management was hosted at Antwork Wednesday evening.
The RELIEF Centre is a trans-disciplinary research collaboration that focuses on one of the world’s pressing challenges of the moment: how to build a prosperous and inclusive future for communities affected by mass displacement.
Their research currently focuses on how to measure prosperity and growth in Lebanon, moving beyond indices like GDP to include measures of wellbeing, health, employment, and education, organizers noted.
Fast Forward 2030 is a network and platform launched by the Institute for Global Prosperity to change the way people think about businesses, and the role entrepreneurs can play in building a brighter future.
According to Henrietta Moore, Director of the Institute for Global Prosperity, the reason behind the two asters’ collaboration over a panel focusing on food production and waste management was to reach out to the community and engage the Lebanese public in co-designing ideas that can increase prosperity in the basic needs of food, water, and clean soil and air.
“In Lebanon, the Institute for Global Prosperity is working with AUB, LAU, a number of NGOs and governmental agencies to work out a better quality of life,” said Moore. “Part of the work we are doing is looking at how we can work with communities to find out their needs.”
For the evening, four entrepreneurs shared stories about building businesses that provide solutions to food deprivation, and lack of effective plans in managing food leftovers and waste issues. The panel included Richard Ballard, co-founder of The Future of Sustainable and Resilient Food Production, Maya Terro, co-founder of Food Blessed, Marc Aoun, co-founder of Compost Baladi and CubeX, and George Bitar, founder of Live Love Recycle.
Ballard took the podium first and demonstrated how plants don’t need sunlight and that urban agriculture can help tackle food scarcity. From his subterranean farm, Ballard started this agricultural revolution with a business partner in 2012.
“Today we deliver fresh local products within just four hours of picking to the London wholesale markets who supply the city’s top restaurants and retailers,” said Ballard.
Terro clarified that the causes of food waste occur during the stages of producing, processing, retailing and consuming. She co-founded Food Blessed behind an environmental and social responsibility mission, as this NGO recovers surplus food from events, organizes food drives, community cook outs, and distributes it to local non-profit partners who work with people in need.
“While we help other non-profits, our efforts divert food waste for reuse and better serve underprivileged communities; it’s a win-win model.”
Another solution to reach food security was presented by Aoun, a process in which a bacteria breaks down the food waste into simpler organic materials that can then be used in soil, it’s called composting.
Compost Baladi started in December 2017 with placing compost boxes around some of the towns, they are now collaborating with households, academic and public institutions, restaurants and malls, food processors and farmers and municipalities. They are also working on some projects that involve water waste considering its importance in Lebanon nowadays, in addition to their free consultation services in composting education and raising awareness.
“We don’t want to wait for the government to start taking action because people really want those solutions to happen, said Aoun.”
Waste is destroying our country regardless of its type, and the answer to this is recycling. However, a lot of people care to help in this particular issue but don’t have the time or the proper knowledge of this procedure. This is the reason behind Live Love Recycle NGO, which is an easy to use phone application that, not only educates recycling, but also takes care of unwanted materials by sending a driver to pick them up and deliver them to the right place.
Bitar hopes that the NGO becomes a social enterprise because he believes that having data of the garbage in Lebanon is mandatory, as acknowledging the exact quantity every household carries, helps better managing the waste and maybe answers to the garbage crisis.
Fast Forward 2030 is now reaching out for entrepreneurs and business leaders in Lebanon that would like to be part of projects related to sustainable profitability. They will be running a competition in 2019 as well, where the winner might get the chance to get fund for his/her startup.
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