UN Climate Press Release / 29 Sep, 2016
2016 Momentum for Change Lighthouse Activites

Thirteen game-changing initiatives from around the world were announced today as winners of the UNFCCC's Momentum for Change climate change award.

Winning activities include:

  • A Google-led project that could catalyse the rooftop solar market for millions of people across the United States
  • An ingenious net that harvests fog from the air to provide drinking water for people on the edge of Morocco’s Sahara Desert
  • North America’s first revenue-neutral tax that puts a price on carbon pollution
  • A project that has established the first women-specific standard to measure and monetize women’s empowerment benefits of climate action

Other winners include the EU’s largest crowdfunding platform for community solar projects and a project in Malaysia initiated by Ericsson that uses sensors to provide near real-time information to restore dwindling mangrove plantations.

Further winners are a company that provides solar systems to homes and businesses in rural Tanzania through an innovative financial package and a Swedish city that became the first in the world to issue green bonds, enabling it to borrow money for investments that benefit the environment.

The Momentum for Change initiative is spearheaded by the UN Climate Change secretariat to shine a light on some of the most innovative, scalable and replicable examples of what people are doing to address climate change. Today’s announcement is part of wider efforts to mobilize action and ambition as national governments work toward implementing the Paris Climate Change Agreement and the Sustainable Development Goals.

“The Momentum for Change Lighthouse Activities underline how climate action and sustainable development is building at all levels of society from country-wide initiatives to ones in communities, by companies and within cities world-wide,” UNFCCC Executive Secretary Patricia Espinosa said. “By showcasing these remarkable examples of creativity and transformational change, along with the extraordinary people behind them, we can inspire everyone to be an accelerator towards the kind of future we all want and need.”

Each of the 13 winning activities touches on one of Momentum for Change’s three focus areas: Women for Results, Financing for Climate Friendly Investment and ICT Solutions. All 13 will be showcased at a series of special events during the UN Climate Change Conference in Marrakech, Morocco (7 November to 18 November 2016).

The 2016 Lighthouse Activities were selected by an international advisory panel as part of the secretariat’s Momentum for Change initiative, which operates in partnership with the World Economic Forum Global Project on Climate Change and the Global e-Sustainability Initiative.

Read on to learn about these 13 game-changing activities:

1. Gothenburg Green Bonds | Sweden

In 2013, the City of Gothenburg became the first city in the world to issue green bonds, which enable it to borrow money for investments that benefit the environment. More than 75% of proceeds from green bonds issued between 2013 and 2015 are used by the city to fund climate change projects that promote the transition to low-carbon and climate-resilient growth.

Read more about this initiative here.

2. Crowdfunding for Community Solar Projects | The Netherlands

ZonnepanelenDelen is working to ensure everyone in The Netherlands has access to solar power, even if they don’t have a roof. The largest crowdfunding platform in the EU for community solar projects, WeShareSolar connects site owners who have a suitable roof (but are not able to invest in solar themselves) with consumers that want to buy a solar panel but do not have a suitable roof. The project makes it easier for third parties to develop and operate a community solar project.

Read more about this initiative here.

3. Off Grid Electric | U.S.A. & Tanzania

Off Grid Electric (OGE) is a ground-breaking company based in San Francisco and Arusha, Tanzania, with the ambitious aim of powering off-grid homes across Africa with affordable, renewable energy. OGE currently provides solar systems to homes and businesses in rural communities through an innovative financial solution. It offers “solar as a service” to customers who suffer from an expensive grid, an unreliable grid, or have no grid access at all.

Read more about this initiative here.

4. Revenue-Neutral Carbon Tax | Canada 

In 2008, the Canadian province of British Columbia introduced North America’s first revenue-neutral carbon tax
 applied to the purchase or use of fuel in British Columbia. The carbon tax has been hailed as the most comprehensive of its kind, covering approximately 70% of provincial emissions. Since the tax is revenue neutral, every dollar generated is returned to British Columbians in the form of personal and business tax measures

Read more about this initiative here.

5. Connected Mangroves | Malaysia

Ericsson’s Connected Mangroves
 project, the first of its kind in the world, combines cloud, machine-to-machine and mobile broadband to help the local community in Selangor, Malaysia, to better manage the growth of new mangrove saplings. The project uses sensors to provide near real-time information to restore dwindling mangrove plantations.

Read more about this initiative here.

6. Mapping for Rights | Cameroon, Central African Republic, Congo, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Gabon, Ghana, Peru 

This initiative of the Rainforest Foundation UK supports forest peoples to counter harmful extractive industry and advocate for legal reforms by equipping them with low-cost technologies to map and monitor their lands, and making this data available on an online platform.

Read more about this initiative here.

7. SOLshare | Bangladesh 

SOLshare has successfully piloted the world’s first ICT-enabled peer-to-peer electricity trading network for rural households with and without solar home systems in Shariatpur, Bangladesh. Along with its implementation partner, the NGO UBOMUS, its financing partner IDCOL and research partner United International Universit-Centre for Energy Research, SOLshare combines solar home systems and centralized mini-grids to enable more rural households to access renewable electricity at a lower cost.

Read more about this initiative here.

8. Project Sunroof | U.S.A

Last year, Google introduced Project Sunroof 
to enable tens of millions of potential solar customers from across the U.S. to evaluate if their home is suitable for solar and how much they could save on electricity. Project Sunroof works by using high-resolution aerial imagery from Google Earth to help calculate a roof’s solar energy potential. 

Read more about this initiative here.

9. Climate Right | Sweden

The Climate Right 
project in Uppsala, Sweden,makes it possible for people to measure and reduce their climate impact. Using a free app developed for the project, participants were able to track their climate impact through their choice of food, mode of transport and way of living, encouraging them to live in a climate friendly way. 

Read more about this initiative here.

10. Women's Empowerment for Resilience and Adaptation Against Climate Change | Uganda

Women’s Empowerment for Resilience and Adaptation Against Climate Change has formed an association of women-led groups that collect individual-savings of at least USD 1 once a week to generate a pool of funds, from which women borrow and invest into income-generating activities that address climate change. This initiative also empowers women undertake land planning, agro-forestry and soil conservation practices and use energy saving stoves. 

Read more about this initiative here.

11. Rural Community Leaders Combating Climate Change | India

Swayam Shikshan Prayog, an Indian NGO, trains rural women in entrepreneurship and builds their capacities for marketing clean-energy products
 in their communities. Currently, an active network of 1,100 women entrepreneurs is working across 8 districts in India. The women provide a complete ‘ecosystem’ approach as clean-technology users, educators, providers and supporters in their communities, which helps make it easier for people to adopt energy-efficient technologies and products that address climate change.

Read more about this initiative here.

12. Women-Led Fog Harvesting for a Resilient, Sustainable Ecosystem | Morocco

Dar Si Hmad, a women-led NGO in Morocco, designed and installed what is now the world’s largest operational fogwater harvesting system
. It is an innovative solution to persistent water stress where fog is abundant, a technique inspired from ancient water practices. The Dar Si Hmad project provides accessible potable water to more than 400 people in five villages, most of them women and children.

Read more about this initiative here.

13. The W+ Standard

The W+ Standard
 is a unique certification scheme developed by WOCAN, which measures how companies, governments and individuals can drive social and economic empowerment for women. The W+ Standard can accelerate investments in women as it ‘rewards’ projects that combine climate action with women’s empowerment, and by doing so recognizes and values women’s critical role in tackling climate change.

Read more about this initiative here.