The percentage of the world’s population that lives in cities is rising, approaching 70 percent by 2050. Rapid urbanization – particularly among the growing middle class in many low-income and emerging economies – is changing the traditional dynamics of energy systems and supply globally. Green growth strategies can help economies and societies become more resilient as they work to meet demand for food production, transport, housing, energy, and water. For example, lighting and cooling of buildings already make up half of global energy use, and by 2030 building-related GHG emissions are set to double, with emerging markets contributing the majority of emissions. Energy efficiency is widely recognized as one of the most effective ways to combat climate change while meeting rising energy demand. Information and communication technology (ICT) is an important driver for clean-tech and green growth. It enables the collection and processing of immense volumes of data that can be used for improved urban systems and new business models. It also allows developing countries to adapt successfully tested international solutions to their local needs, which can help them leapfrog and develop domestic clean technology markets.
The Negawatt Challenge taps into local and global talent to identify hardware and software solutions that can reduce urban energy use, improve quality of service delivery in energy sectors, generate new or improved data, and offer cost-efficient energy management tools for city residents and policymakers. In its first stage, focusing on resource efficiency and open data, the Negawatt has been piloted in four cities globally, including Accra, Dar es Salaam, Nairobi, and Rio de Janeiro. It aims to use an open innovation competition methodology to surface technology and business innovations that catalyze behavioral change and have the potential to transform cities into more sustainable and efficient places. With Alison Roadburg, Program Manager, iSpace Foundation Ghana.
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