How to prepare for the challenge?
Drink Water, Sleep Well, and THINK CIRCULAR!
Think about what drives you to behave in ways that protect the environment. How you were first exposed to sustainability regarding food ecosystems, and how you would best be stimulated to introduce circular initiatives into your daily shopping and consumption behaviors. Now think about your peers and the ways they engage in certain behaviors, how can you educate these individuals, with the use of digital technologies, to adopt more sustainable behaviors in their daily lives?
Why is it important to find a solution to this challenge?
By the year 2050 the human population is expected to reach 9 billion inhabitants, an increase that places unsustainable demands on the Earth's natural resources; for instance, three full planet Earth's will be required if food production and consumption practices continue with 'business as usual'. With the traditional linear economies, approximately 80% of materials people use are directly discarded after usage, and 30% of all food produced worldwide goes to waste annually, clearly highlighting the desperate need from a transition from the linear 'produce-use-dispose' model of food production and consumption.
Current unsustainable consumer behaviors and food waste practices have paved the way to discussions of a circular economy, which is defined as ‘an economic system aimed minimizing waste and using available resources to their full potential’.
Food is part out our cultural identity, a conductor of social interactions, and essentially necessary for human survival. However, the importance given to food by the current food ecosystem is under-valued and this is evident by the linear, abundance-focused food supply chains that threaten the Earth's natural resources. Therefore, it is important to harness emerging technologies in order to promote sustainable knowledge and food circularity for younger individuals, who can then disseminate this information amongst their peers and future generations. Transitioning from the current 'produce-use-dispose' methods is one of the most effective ways to ensure food security and nutrition for future generations.
What is the possible impact of a good solution?
Our current food ecosystem is ripe for disruption! For every dollar spent on food, society pays two dollars in health, environmental, and economic costs. Furthermore, it is expected that 80% of all food will be consumed in cities by 2050, therefore food system stakeholders and individuals located within cities will hold immense power to revolutionize our food ecosystem. Cities and their inhabitants have the power to transform from black holes that devour food, energy, and other resources to engines that help regenerate the food ecosystem and bioeconomy.
A successful transition to a circular economy will be accompanied by production that regenerates rather than harms the natural resources it relies on, a reduction in food waste, and a repurposing of by-products to be used at their highest value.
What is the expected outcome of this challenge?
What we expect from our challenge is to create digital tools and solutions (i.e., products or services) to educate food ecosystem members on the topic of 'Urban Food Circularity' in order to ensure a food ecosystem fit for the 21st century and beyond.
Emerging products and services should help pave the way for the following themes:
- Stimulate discussions regarding exaggerated food waste.
- Personalized learning experiences that truly engage young adults in promoting circular behaviors.
- Innovative methods to recycle, or redistribute, food waste from local institutions.
Teams' proposals should dive straight into the realm of 'circular business models' and generate ideas from an entrepreneurial perspective on how we could innovate the current 'produce-use-dispose' linear economy to close material loops, turning today's waste into tomorrow's resource.