NEW YORK CITY, United States of America, July 12, 2016

The Buckminster Fuller Institute is pleased to announce the Semifinalists for the 2016 Fuller Challenge. Now in its 9th annual cycle, The Fuller Challenge remains the only award specifically working to identify and catalyze individuals and teams employing a whole systems approach to problem solving. One of the earliest contributors to the field, The Buckminster Fuller Institute celebrates the uptake of whole systems design approaches across all sectors of society.

The nineteen proposals submitted from these outstanding teams have undergone rigorous evaluation for adherence to the Fuller Challenge criteria by the members of the Challenge Review Committee, corroborating that their work is visionary, comprehensive, anticipatory, ecologically responsible, feasible, and verifiable.

While the list of Semifinalists is subdivided into problem spaces, the proposed solutions reflect interdisciplinary work and respond to multiple problem spaces at once, given the request for comprehensive initiatives in the Fuller Challenge Call for Proposals

THE 2016 FULLER CHALLENGE SEMIFINALISTS ARE:

BUILT ENVIRONMENT

The African Design Center aims to transform the African built environment through a comprehensive program to recruit and train the next generation of African designers and architects to lead the effort to plan and develop the enormous amount of urban infrastructure that Africa will need, and to do it with sustainability, cultural appropriateness, local materials and artisanship, and human health and wellbeing as core principles.

Build Change is a preventive, “whole-systems” change approach that combines universally recognized, cost-effective, state-of-the-art seismic retrofitting and construction techniques adapted to each cultural context using locally produced materials, financing mechanisms for homeowners, preparedness education, community outreach and capacity building, and policy-level efforts on building code improvements.

Cooperación Comunitaria combines sound geological and engineering risk analysis with local indigenous wisdom in a comprehensive approach to community resilience in the steep La Montaña region of Guerrero, home to 85% of the state’s indigenous population and one of Mexico’s most marginalized localities. They engage with local people in the placement, design, and building of affordable, seismically sound, eco-friendly, culturally appropriate dwellings using local materials.

PITCHAfrica’s Waterbank Schools are working demonstrations of the remarkable leveraging power of water catchment as a socially integrated solution to resource scarcity. Their rainwater-harvesting structures serve students, faculty, and the surrounding community with clean, accessible water, and the building acts as a learning tool and community training and knowledge hub for a whole region.

HUMAN HEALTH

Concern America empowers local communities in isolated and underserved regions to provide the bulk of their medical services themselves. Community members in materially impoverished, isolated, and often war-torn communities are trained to provide primary health care services through Concern America’s Health Promoter Practitioner model, bringing high-quality, low-cost comprehensive health care where none exists.

Sustainable Health Enterprises (SHE) has designed a comprehensive strategy to locally produce eco-friendly pads made from agricultural residue (discarded banana fiber) using no chemicals and very little water, providing women with a sustainable product at a fraction of the cost of imported products. SHE also works to empower women and stress the crucial importance of girls’ education.

The Urban Death Project (UDP) solution to today’s toxic, $20 billion funeral industry presents a new model of death care that is both human- and nature-centric. UDP has designed a scalable, regenerative urban system based on the natural process of decomposition, with the first full-scale human composting facility to be located in the city of Seattle, Washington.

FOOD PRODUCTION

ECOTIERRA is a certified B corporation working to create a sustainable agricultural economy across the Andes cordillera, with plans to replicate their model in Cote d’Ivoire and Colombia. In addition to spurring widespread reforestation to offset carbon emissions, their agroforestry partnerships are directly contributing to the economic, social, and environmental resilience of 12,000 families in Peru.

MIT Open Agriculture Initiative develops open-source “controlled environment agriculture” (CEA) technologies to experiment and innovate in seeking alternatives to the unsustainable and destructive practices of industrial agriculture, and to make highly localized food production more viable. The project has designed transparent, open-source, “hackable” hardware and software platforms to allow indoor farmers conduct networked experiments through scalable “food computers”.

HUMAN RIGHTS & DEVELOPMENT

Glasswing International—an NGO with a long, proven track record of well-designed social and development programs—has designed a highly effective, comprehensive, proactive program to combat the vicious cycle of displacement resulting from increasing youth emigration rates from Central America.

International Bridges to Justice (IBJ) is a unique organization working to bolster fair, professional criminal justice systems around the world. IBJ works on the “inside” to reinforce credible legal infrastructures, building relationships with local attorneys, national bar associations and government officials, and holding workshops and multi-stakeholder roundtables to work toward correcting systemic problems.

The Sentinel Project’s Una Hakika system is an effective approach to defusing inter-ethnic/inter-communal violence and tension in the world’s highest risk “hot spots” for conflict, using the communication tools most relevant in a given context. Their work is to counteract inflammatory misinformation and rumors with trusted, accurate information.

South Vihar Welfare Society for Tribal (ASHRAY) is a grassroots organization led by women that works with tribal communities in Jharkand State in India in order to comprehensively address the root causes of human trafficking. By bolstering education, skills training, agricultural production and food security, economic opportunities, and women’s empowerment, ASHRAY counteracts the poverty and social instability that make trafficking possible in the first place.

MATERIALS & THE CIRCULAR ECONOMY

Evrnu, SPC has generated an innovative chemical process breaks down cotton at the molecular level, allowing for an unprecedented recycling method that uses almost no virgin materials and a solvent than can be recaptured at a 98% rate. Evrnu’s fibre could be “the most environmentally friendly fiber on the planet.”

Procesos Proambientales Xaquixe has created a methodology for micro-industrial sustainability by implementing a wide range of alternative energy technologies and by repurposing discarded materials from local waste streams. Located in Oaxaca, where artisans represent 10% of the local population, the first eco-cluster has linked glass, ceramics and mezcal producers to develop alternative, closed-loop systems of production.

ZERI Network and Sanctuary Asia (with the support of APPL) seek to develop a wide gamut of innovative niche agricultural products as well as coordinated reforestation, soil regeneration, and water and soil bioremediation, combined with the generation of economic opportunities for the regional population at Hathikuli organic tea plantation and the adjoining Kaziranga National Park in India’s Assam State.

ENVIRONMENT & RESOURCES

KTK-BELT is a home-grown Nepalese biodiversity preservation, conservation, education, rural sustainable development, and job creation initiative that seeks to protect and share the invaluable ecological knowledge held by local/indigenous people in a “vertical university”, which will stretch from Koshi Tappu (67 meters above sea level), Nepal’s largest aquatic bird reserve, to Kanchenjunga (8,586 meters above sea level).

Taking Root’s CommuniTree project seeks to tackle three interlinked problems: deforestation, climate change, and poverty, through a comprehensive reforestation and carbon sequestration strategy. The program engages farmers to reforest degraded, underutilized portions of their farms with a range of native tree species, and trains them to manage their trees effectively using innovative data collection tools.

Tides Canada Initiatives’ Rainforest Solutions Project resulted in a historic 250-year agreement between diverse stakeholders to conserve and sustainably manage the 15-million acre Great Bear Rainforest, one of the last pristine temperate rainforests on the planet. They now seek to replicate their groundbreaking “Ecosystem-Based Management Model” to conservation efforts of a similar scale in other geographic contexts.


 

for Megan Ahearn

Buckminster Fuller Institute