A Swiss explorer’s search for 1,000 solutions for the environment

The first person ever to fly around the world powered only by solar energy has taken on a bigger challenge: find solutions to protect the planet while making a profit.

Bertrand Piccard, the first person to successfully circumnavigate the globe with an aircraft powered only by the sun, is taking another step at promoting clean and efficient solutions, but this time while turning a profit.

The non-government organisation Solar Impluse Foundation, where Piccard is chairman, has embarked on a search for 1,000 solutions that best represent positive environmental impact and profitability.

Speaking to Eco-Business on the sidelines of the BNP Paribas Sustainable Futures Forum 2018, Piccard said the most viable solutions will be selected first before presenting them to decisions makers around the world in order to fast-track their implementation.  

If you go to [governments and businesses] and tell them to save the environment, they won’t listen to you. But if you come with their own language, about profit, job creation, growth, then they will listen.

Bertrand Piccard, chairman, Solar Impluse Foundation

Piccard, who was also the first person to complete a non-stop balloon flight around the world, said governments and businesses can be convinced to adopt clean energy solutions by showing that these projects can also make money.

“If you go to them and tell them to save the environment, they won’t listen to you. But if you come with their own language, about profit, job creation, growth, then they will listen,” Piccard said.

This year, the foundation will be making its selection of the 1,000 solutions based on three criteria: technological feasibility, socio-environmental impact and economic profitability.

Once entrees pass the criteria, they will be awarded the Solar Impulse Efficient Solution Label, which serves as a guarantee of quality for businesses looking to implement clean solutions.

Solutions that have passed the criteria so far include Internet-of-things sensor to improve air quality, biodegradable plastic made from milk protein, and molecularly enhanced wood materials to be used for construction, automobiles and aeronautics.

The Swiss pioneer hopes that these solutions will show that they are not expensive fixes to problems, but rather opportunities for clean economic growth.

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