Expo 2020 Dubai turns spotlight on grassroots innovation

Expo 2020 Dubai turns spotlight on grassroots innovation

A wearable device that warns when social distancing is not being respected and a Jordanian programme helping vulnerable communities grow online businesses during lockdown are among five new projects selected from a call for Covid-19-related proposals from Expo 2020 Dubai’s Global Best Practice Programme.

The hand-picked initiatives join 45 existing best practice projects, whose simple, effective and locally based solutions solve some of the world’s biggest challenges, including those laid out in the Sustainable Development Agenda – 17 global targets designed to achieve peace and prosperity for people and the planet.

The latest additions come as the United Nations marks World Creativity and Innovation Day today, celebrating human ingenuity and the creative economy, and their essential role in helping communities throughout the pandemic.

Reem Al Hashimy, director general of Expo 2020 Dubai, said: “The impact of major global challenges has made it very clear that, to build a better future, we must work together as a global community.

“Our expanded Global Best Practice Programme exemplifies Expo’s purpose to bring the world together – aligned with our theme of ‘Connecting Minds, Creating the Future’ – to drive positive change and support projects from across the world that communities need now.

“These projects are providing tangible, life-changing solutions to the challenges brought on by the pandemic, and we are proud to showcase them at Expo 2020 Dubai – a one-of-a-kind global platform and an impactful incubator for new ideas.”

New projects include SafeDistance, a wearable device from Belgium firm Lopos that uses alarms, lights and vibrations to warn when social distancing is not being respected, and UAE-based Project Maji, which has devised the Maji Bucket – a safe, low-tech and low-cost invention, produced by people of determination in Ghana, to ensure safe handwashing practices in rural communities.

Another project, SitatByoot, works directly with vulnerable communities in Jordan, primarily women working from home during lockdowns.

During the pandemic, it developed a vocational training programme to create certified ‘makers’, producing garments and hand-made goods for sale through SitatByoot’s sister e-commerce platform, Makesy.

To date, Makesy has a certified network of 500-plus ‘makers’ fulfilling orders from home – helping them enter the labour market, grow their businesses online and provide more income for their families.

During the call for Covid-19 proposals, which began in September, Expo received applications from 318 projects, in 78 different countries, across five focus areas: digitalisation; education and skills development; health and wellbeing; water, sanitation and hygiene; and protecting livelihoods.

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