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Science, innovation and entrepreneurship at UN in Kenya

UN SPB Opening Plenary Session in Naironbi. © image credits @IISD

Enel Foundation contributed to the Second Global session of the UN Science Policy Business Forum (UN SPB) focused on the nexus of science, innovation and entrepreneurship for green solutions and launched in partnership with Yale University a new research on transformative building systems leveraging on large scale renewables and smart grid for sustainable urbanization.

The UN SPB Forum 2019 held its sessions at the UN Headquarters in Nairobi from 8 to 10 March 2019 in the lead up to the 4th session of the UN Environment Assembly - the world’s highest-level decision-making body on the environment -  to inform its discussions.

The SPB Forum 2019 focused on Innovative solutions for environmental challenges and sustainable consumption and production. Alongside distinguished organizations, such as Thomson Reuters and Barclays, and sharing stage with multilateral organizations and scientists, Enel Foundation contributed to different sessions adding to the debate on the crucial role of   research and open innovation in finance and green technologies. In this context, specific reference was made to renewables and smart grids and to the paramount importance of education and knowledge sharing, featuring the Open Africa Powerexperience.

Transformative building systems for sustainable development

Enel Foundation and Yale Center for Ecosystems in Architecture (Yale CEA) are joining forces to research the nexus between water, energy, and material flows in defining transformative ways to address rapid urbanization among other in the African context. The research will focus on building systems powered by large-scale renewables and enabled by smart grid connections, as an essential part of the sustainable solution to growing urbanization leaving no one behind. As the continent prepares to double the population and 80% of the growth will occur in cities, indeed the debate on infrastructures is    a cornerstone of sustainable development.

The new research partnership was announced in the sidelines of the 4th General Assembly of UN Environment in Nairobi, Kenya, where a concrete demonstration of future building materials, developed by Yale CEA are housed within a unique pavilion, entirely 3D printed and made of biodegradable bamboo . The pavilion shows how post-agricultural waste – like bamboo, rice coconut, soy, and corn – can be turned into sustainable construction materials. The joint research by Yale CEA and Enel Foundation will shape the upcoming phase of the project, comprising a full analysis of collective housing patterns at the district scale using Ecological Living Modules (ELM) and integrating large-scale renewable source and smart grids solutions. Different configurations exploring single-family dwellings, including schemes for low rise ‘street wall’ housing as well as tower blocks up to 30 floors high will be analyzed.

Anna Dyson, Founding Director of the Yale CEA commented, “Yale University School of Architecture and the Yale CEA are collaborating with UN Environment, UN Habitat and multiple partners to study new integrated approaches to sustainable urbanization from construction materials to energy and water needs. Our collaboration with Enel Foundation will allow us to take our researches to a new level looking at clean energy generation at scale, smart grid and energy management.”

Carlo Papa, Director of Enel Foundation, commented, “we are proud to work with YALE CEA to research how transformative building systems can be effective tools for sustainable development, leveraging on large scale renewable sources distributed via smart grids to ensure  affordable and resilient solutions in the face of growing climate change”.

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