Nourishing the Planet Helps to Select Winning Designs for a More Sustainable Future

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Each year The Buckminster Fuller Challenge, an international design competition hosted by the Buckminster Fuller Institute, awards $100,000 to a project proposal that has the potential to address “the world’s most pressing problems.” The Challenge selects a jury of experts to review the competing proposals and help select a winner. This year, Worldwatch Senior Researcher and Nourishing the Planet co-Project Director, Danielle Nierenberg, has been invited to participate in the selection process.

The Challenge encourages entries to attempt to address complex problems, such as global hunger, with creative and streamlined solutions that can be easily integrated into existing social, economic, environmental, political, and cultural contexts. Last year there were 250 entries from 27 countries which were narrowed down to a top 24 before the winner was selected.

The 2010 prize went to Allan Savory, a former wildlife biologist and farmer who specializes in livestock and rangeland management, and his proposal, Operation Hope: Permanent Water and Food Security for Africa’s Impoverished Millions. Operation Hope demonstrates how improved farming and livestock raising methods can help to halt and reverse desertification of the world’s grasslands and savannas in order to mitigate climate change, preserve biodiversity, and conserve water, as well as reduce poverty, population migration, and violence over land disputes. Through his work with the Africa Center for Holistic Management (ACHM), an organization he founded, Savory has demonstrated how integrating crops with livestock and local wildlife has helped to reverse desertification as well as improve farmers’ livelihoods on 6500 acres of grasslands in Zimbabwe.

Projects that made it into the top 24 last year also include the Watergy Greenhouse, a solar-powered process of collecting and recycling water for irrigation to improve water conservation and food production, while reducing the need for expensive and dangerous chemicals. And the Barefoot Women Solar Engineers of Africa, Asia, and Latin America, which is helping illiterate women from rural and inaccessible villages gain training and skills in the use of solar-powered technology. The women can then take their new skills back to their villages  to help improve education, agriculture, and other social and economic activities.

In addition to Danielle, this year’s jury also includes Jean GardnerJin JiamanSim Van der RynMichael Ben Eli, Roger MalinaValeri Casey and Andrew Zolli, as well as State of the World 2010: Transforming Cultures contributing author David Orr and 2010 Buckminster Fuller Challenge winner, Allan Savory.

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