Several government leaders tend to repeatedly use the buzzword “innovation” and project it as the cure-all for spent economies. Some might even say that innovation and economic growth have gone hand-in-hand in this generation.
What is innovation? Simply put, innovation is the useful application of a creative idea. It is a creative process with a practical end in mind. It can be finding a solution to a problem or meeting a need that is practical and tangible. It is repeatable and has intellectual and economic value. Innovations are often patentable. Most innovations take place in manufacturing and the kitchen.
But, as we transition to a low-carbon future, can innovation also drive the new economy? Yes, it can, and this makes it an exciting time in human history. For innovation to transform the economy, several things have to be considered.
Who can innovate, and when?
Anybody with an imagination can innovate. That is why it is important to be inclusive, especially when creating a new low-carbon economy. A respectful and open environment encourages the expression of new ideas. Converting ideas into something tangible requires resourcefulness and a good, broad education.
Innovation often takes place when there is failure, which forces an in-depth examination of a situation or process. To give a simple illustration, the common international washroom symbols of a man and a woman were created at the World Exhibition when all the translations required would have covered the whole door. A simple symbol that transcended all languages was created. The new design also saved time and money.
Similarly, the planet is the hottest it has been on record. We are currently in failure mode. This is the best time for innovation.
Opportunity to Design for the 21st Century
Many things in use no longer meet our needs or will no longer meet our needs in the next 60 years. Now is a golden opportunity to look at everything with fresh eyes to design things that are better, use less material and generate zero waste. Creating good design is intellectually challenging and also satisfying when the end-product is functional and elegant.
As they spread, innovation and good design will inspire leaders in the new economy. Remember the jumbo jet? When the Boeing 747 was introduced, most airports did not have a sufficiently long runway or the capabilities to process the substantial increase in passengers, luggage and demand for more washrooms. Yet today we take all these for granted due to better design.
Can innovation be the economy’s salvation?
The 200 countries that signed the Paris Climate Agreement have come to the conclusion that, in relation to the cost of climate change, they are in an unsustainable position and will remain so if nothing is done. We have no alternative but to embrace a
low-carbon future. By being innovative and redesigning things and processes, humankind has the opportunity to transform our existing economy into one that is low-carbon and sustainable.
FirstCarbon Solutions (FCS) is a leading sustainability solutions provider to organizations and governments around the globe. FCS integrates consulting experience with software and extensive knowledge in back-office data processing, bringing new innovations in sustainability to life. To stay current on the latest industry innovations, subscribe to our monthly newsletter, GreenWatch.