A UN Climate Change 'Global Innovation Hub' (UGIH) at the UN Climate Change Conference COP27 in Sharm el-Sheikh is set to ratchet up the scale and effectiveness of innovation in tackling climate change and help deliver on the UN's Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). This will happen for the first time through a digital platform designed to facilitate collaboration between key innovators and investors who have a demand for climate and sustainability solutions (CSSs).
Innovation in the field of climate action is crucial to support both behavioral and system changes necessary to shift the needle when it comes to cutting greenhouse gas emissions and build resilience to climate change. Innovation can for example apply to ways to generate clean energy, ways to make the construction sector more sustainable and ways to make food supply chain resilient to climate shocks.
"The hub addresses current challenges in the innovation process and provides a space to rethink ways of addressing core human needs in the context of sustainable development," says Massamba Thioye, Project lead Executive of UGIH for the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). "We are creating a space for transformative innovation driven by demands for climate and sustainability solutions linked to human needs and engineered for radical collaboration in housing, nutrition and health, energy, access, mobility and more."
With the window of opportunity to tackle climate change rapidly closing, incremental steps are not enough. The Global Innovation Hub therefore intends to take a 'moonshot approach' - setting a goal and encouraging innovation to achieve it instead of what is perceived as possible with current solutions and technologies - thereby driving a profound transformation in how to meet climate goals.
Virtual hub to enable "intelligent matchmaking"
During COP27, the hub organizers will launch Version 1.0 of the Virtual Hub site - a tool for collating government entities demand for climate and sustainability solutions. Co-designed with Amazon Web Services and the Open Earth Foundation, version 1.0 of the platform enables the collection of global ambitions, a critical first step towards intelligent matchmaking and automated coalition building.
The UGIH Pavilion at COP27 will feature up to 80 back-to-back sessions, each spotlighting a specific climate innovation theme, such as cities; digital finance; partners for tomorrow (incubators and accelerators); innovation for climate; youth; gender; and core needs/solutions.
Concrete examples of areas of innovation that will be highlighted at the hub include:
- The potential of bamboo as a material for sustainable construction and circular economic development. Reports show that bamboo has great potential as a renewable, lightweight and strong building material. Due to faster growth and higher carbon sequestration of bamboo plants compared to trees in the tropics, bamboo is starting to play an increasingly important role in future construction projects.
- The potential of green hydrogen. With governments at COP26 agreeing to phase down coal, green hydrogen takes the stage at COP27, driving innovation in the collective commitment toward green energy. While the hydrogen production market is forecast to grow up to 9.2% per year until 2030, more than 95% of hydrogen production today is derived from fossil fuels. UGIH explores opportunities for green hydrogen development aligned with the SDGs and the Paris Agreement.
- The potential of beans in improving food security. As climate change continues to negatively impact global food security, UGIH presents the launch of "Beans is How", an initiative by the SDG2 Advocacy Hub aimed at highlighting the potential of beans as an affordable and accessible solution to the world's growing health and climate challenges.
All interested practitioners at COP are invited to visit the Hub at the physical Pavilion.