Entering the new decade, I’m filled with optimism, and excited about the kind of challenges we will have to deal with.
It’s at the end of this decade that we expect the global population to hit 8.5Bn people, majority of whom will be in developing countries and living in overstretched urban areas. Here’s what we will deal with, rapid urbanization, stretched infrastructure, high food and water demand and increased pressure on governance. For instance, feeding these population will need us to almost double food production in the next 10 years. In addition, The UN projected that half the world will be living in severe water scarcity by 2030, mainly due to climate change.
Thinking of all this happening within this decade makes it one of the most interesting times to live, because of the nature of the solutions that we’ll have to develop. And its’ in this challenges that I see huge opportunities to scale the emerging technologies that we’ve already developed in the past 2 decades.
More Climate smart infrastructure & Governance
Climate consciousness will certainly gain most momentum in this decade. And for every government investment, we will see more of new climate smart infrastructure development, especially in countries most affected by climate change. More investments would also be directed towards Agriculture and building resilient food systems, Smart cities and urban transport. Governments will have to deal with highly charged politics and conversations around climate change, and this shall greatly improve mass awareness leading to more climate activism that’s directed towards governments and policy makers. Maybe even climate change triggered revolutions may happen. Governments would have to include environmental sustainability in most of decision making structures.
Climate conscious investments
Already climate finance has taken root among various financial players, most recent examples being BlackRock announcing a big change of their investment decision making to incorporate climate change. To achieve meaningful impact, Big Corporates, just like Microsoft, will commit to Climate smart investments and more VCs to invest in Green businesses. With these investment opportunities coming up, innovators and startup founders will have a unique opportunity to start and scale their businesses, especially those in the developing world. More Sovereign Wealth funds would also direct their investments into climate change and adaptation initiatives, because, as we approach the 2030 SDGs “Deadline”, we will realize and internalize the fact that climate change shall devalue the very investments we made in the previous years. Already Sovereign Wealth Funds worth $3 Trillion have committed to the Paris Agreement and developing countries like Kenya are taking lead in offering green bonds away from traditional government bonds.
Emerging technologies to scale.
Because of the inherent challenges anticipated in this decade, 2020 to 2030 will offer the best opportunity in history to scale climate smart digital technologies.
Interestingly, the previous decades have seen the emergence of futuristic technologies (IoT, Big data, AI, Blockchain etc.) that unfortunately haven’t worked for the masses yet. But because of the unifying global challenge that we’ll have to solve, this solutions have a unique opportunity to scale.
First, our physical world will transform to digital interfaces, accessible by anyone, wherever. We will see democratization of access to world data, which will be crucial in mitigation and adaptation to climate change effects. Every single physical thing will have a digital footprint and a digital interface. Each physical process will have a digital tool to replace it. There will be more sharing than ever as all this data and processes will be packaged into accessible platforms.
Driving this transformation will be enhanced networks (5G), increased connected devices (IoT) and extraordinary computing power to handle the explosion of Big-data (AI, Blockchain, ML etc). I believe we’ll see business models re-written and most startups in these space moving from experimental growth to exponential growth.
Because all interactions with the physical world will be through virtual digital interfaces, trust will be the anchor of all this technologies. How the users are protected, how their data is handled and how traceable is every commodity they will get from the physical world through their virtual interfaces.
2020 to 2030 is the decade of digitizing our physical world, understanding it better, and changing how we monitor, build and use every single resource in it. If we can have this technologies in the hands of masses, we would have a chance to collectively deal with the effects of climate change from sophisticated cities to remote villages.
My top 2 commitments for the decade:
1. Ending global water stress by bringing visibility and transparency in every drop water across the water sector. We will achieve this through our work at HydroIQ aimed at turning traditional water systems to smart water grids.
Why it matters
More than half of the world population will be in severe water stress by 2030, yet up to 50% of water supplied is lost before reaching the consumers. Our mission will be to solve this by monitoring & availing data on water consumption, distribution, losses and more insights.
2. Digitizing the farming value chain by revolutionizing access to technology and Knowledge, for the world’s small holder farmers through our work at UjuziKilimo aimed at efficient & sustainable resource use (Soil, Water, Land).
Why it matters.
70% of food consumed globally is produced by small holder farmers, who also form the majority of the world’s poor. Majority of world population and world economy depends on agriculture, smallholder especially because are the key to solving global hunger and achieving SDG2.
As an entrepreneur, I believe that, with the right incentives, we can develop sustainable solutions to any challenge at hand, and in this decade, the challenge at hand is dealing with climate change and achieving the outlined SDGs. No business can survive the negative effects of climate change and if well tapped, the decade’s challenge offers renewed opportunity to re-invent and re-energize our business approaches, business models that shall lead us to the next decade.