How would you better the world with a million dollars?

After two months of searching for sustainability solutions and a showdown between six finalists, the finale of The Liveability Challenge 2018 culminated in a proposal for biodegradable straws winning nearly a million dollars.

If you had a million dollars to save the world, what would you do? 

This was the question posed by the first-ever edition of The Liveability Challenge, a global competition searching for innovative solutions to help tropical, urban cities such as Singapore remain sustainable and liveable in the face of global challenges.

Asia is a hotspot of development and the rapid growth of urban populations is causing pollution, habitat loss and an overload of waste. Cooling and waste management are two particularly pertinent issues. The rate at which cities generate trash outstrips their ability to manage it responsibly, leading to landfills piling up and plastic waste threatening marine life.

Cooling is another unprecedented issue. Growing affluence coupled with warmer weather is driving the purchase of air conditioning units. While many relish the benefits air-conditioning provides in the sweltering heat of Asia’s tropical cities, its large electricity demand spurs the burning of fossil fuels, exacerbating climate change.

To tackle these issues, new and innovative solutions need to be developed and implemented quickly, and this is where The Liveability Challenge comes in. Presented by Temasek Foundation Ecosperity and organised by Eco-Business, the competition—which takes inspiration from American reality television show Shark Tank where budding entrepreneurs try to convince judges to invest in their ideas—held its finale in July earlier this year. 

Six finalists, shortlisted from over 200 applicants from 34 countries, had the opportunity to pitch their solutions to five sharp-tongued judges, including well-known venture capitalist Vinnie Lauria from Golden Gate Ventures and entrepreneur and philanthropist Elim Chew. 

Emerging victorious to secure $980,000 in funding was Singapore firm RWDC Industries with its pitch to produce biodegradable drinking straws, in a bid to reduce and eventually replace single-use plastics.

The straws, manufactured using a certified biodegradable polymer, can decompose under natural conditions into water and carbon dioxide. Straws currently sold can decompose only under specific conditions.

Watch the finale of The Liveability Challenge 2018 here, and keep an eye out on this space for the return of The Liveability Challenge 2019. 

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