Social forestry project wins the Liveability Challenge 2022

Fairventures, an agroforestry management system, was awarded top prize in the annual search for solutions to the toughest sustainability challenges of our time.

Liveability Challenge_Fairventures
Tisha Ramadhini (centre) and Paul Schuelle (right) from social forestry venture Fairventures, winner of the 2022 edition of The Liveability Challenge, receiving the prize from judge Lim Hock Chuan, head of programmes, Temasek Foundation. This marks the first time in the Challenge's history that a nature-based solution has won top prize. Image: Eco-Business

A social forestry project has won the 2022 edition of the Liveability Challenge, a yearly search for ways to tackle the most difficult sustainability challenges faced in Southeast Asia.

Fairventures Social Forestry, a team from Germany, emerged ahead of five other finalists to clinch the grand prize of S$1 million (US$728,000) in funding from Temasek Foundation, the sponsor of the Liveability Challenge and philanthropic arm of Temasek, Singapore’s state-investment company.

This marks the first time in the Challenge’s history that a nature-based solution has won top prize.

This year’s Challenge was themed around decarbonisation, agritechnology as well as nature-based solutions to climate change.

The Fairventures project aims to sustainably manage forests and improve livelihoods in Jambi, Indonesia, using a scalable social forestry model that incorporates blended finance.

Steve Melhuish, impact investor at Planet Rise and one of The Liveability Challenge judges, said: “What we really liked about Fairventures was that it is a true nature-based solution with a proven track record that has helped communities and has had a real carbon impact.”

Melhuish also commended Fairventures for its sustainable business model; it has secured offtakers for its products which include crops, timber and carbon credits.

Lim Hock Chuan, head of programmes, Temasek Foundation, also one of the judges, said: “This is one of the few nature-based solutions ventures that was genuinely end-to-end, with blended finance to make the project sustainable and viable. It also addressed a very big problem: what to do with vast expanses of degraded land in Indonesia.”

The winner was chosen from a field of finalists that included an initiative to curb the energy consumption of data centre through artificial intelligence and digital twin technology by a team from Singapore called Red Dot Analytics, and a large-scale carbon sequestration project by British team CQUESTR8.

Also among the finalists were GAIT, a team from Singapore and New Zealand that measures carbon, and Wasna, a team from Belgium and Singapore that makes low-cost cultivated meat using a universal serum. 

The sixth finalist was ImpacFat, a Japan-Singapore team that produces alternative meat products using cell-based fish fat.

Additional prizes of S$50,000 from Quest Ventures went to Fairventures and ImpacFat, S$100,000 from Purpose Venture Capital was awarded to Red Dot Analytics, and S$100,000 from Amasia went to GAIT.

A further S$100,000 from PlanetRise was awarded to Fairventures. Wasna was also given S$100,000 by Silverstrand Capital.

According to an audience poll, Red Dot Analytics was the most popular candidate, followed by GAIT and Wasna.

Last year’s Liveability Challenge winner was SeaChange, a US-based company which produced construction materials like concrete and cement from CO2 dissolved in seawater.

Other past winners include TurtleTreeLabs, a Singapore-based company developing lab-grown milk, and Sophie’s Kitchen, a US-based firm developing sustainable, microalgae-based proteins.

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