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Sustainable development - page 3

An Ethiopian village no longer fears neither drought nor exodus

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Etiopi puits2

Orange, avocado, and mango trees are covered with shade by huge acacia trees in Abrha We Atsbeha. These nitrogen-fixing trees, which provide beans to feed the cattle, were planted by farmers. Read more

Lowline, the first underground park in the world, soon in New York

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lowline-new-yorks1Lowline will be an incredible underground park project recently receiving the preliminary agreement of the City of New York for its achievement in Manhattan by 2018. Read more

Sponge Cities: Don’t waste a drop

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At the beginning of June 2016, the river Seine burst its banks, and Paris was witnessing to bewilderment how quickly the water rose up to 6.10 meters. But what was even more alarming, was that the flooding came at the beginning of the summer time instead of the typically expected autumn or winter seasons.

metropolitan-cityThe rapid growth of cities doesn’t only result in demographic and economic novelties, but urbanization brings environmental and climate changes as well. As it’s becoming more common to experience extreme weather conditions, scientists and politicians are tackling the problem with the scheme of “sponge cities”, as discussed by Mark Harris in his article for The Guardian. The new concept of our urban environment suggests that every raindrop is captured, harvested and reused.

Nature is accountable for trillions of litres of rainwater annually falling directly onto our cities — all fresh and clean, but, unfortunately, mostly wasted. Instead of letting the rainwater being channelled into the gutters and drains of our cities, sponge cities collect it for diverse uses for their own benefit. From using it to fill their toilet tanks and water their gardens to recharge depleted aquifers and clean their homes, this natural  resource can become even more precious, if adeptly processed and served into a glass … of water.

In the long term, sponge cities can perform miracles when it comes to the reduction of carbon emissions and the battling of climate change. For example, think of the already popular rain barrels that are collecting rainwater to carry out everyday home maintenance tasks. On a larger scope, rain barrels can be replaced with rooftop gardens for better results on blocks of flats and offices. Such gardens wouldn’t only help towards the water recycling process, but would also reduce the temperature in the air, consequently reducing the need for the use of air conditioning systems.

According to the 2015 statistics of the World Resources Institute, India, Bangladesh, China, Vietnam and Pakistan are the top five countries in the world that along with 10 other countries account for 80% of the population that is exposed to river flood risk. Thus, for the least developed or currently developing countries, controlling stormwater is an opportunity not only to save water supplies for the future but to prevent the overflow of water when excessive rainfall occurs.


Changde, a city west of Shanghai, has replaced 15% of its hard-standing with bioswales — an environmentally friendly action that has cut its engineering bill for new drains in half. This is a good example of how sponge cities can have a positive financial impact as well. Whether it is rainwater for storage and use during droughts, or whether we are looking into implementing methods that will prevent flooding during unpredictable and unmeasurable rainfall, sponge cities have been invented to make our lives better.

An amazing “foresidence” in Turin

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The forest- residence 25 Verde allows its residents to stay in the heart of the trees and escape from the Turin urban homogeneity. And the city comes alive.

A combination of live trees and steel branches dresses this unique 5-storey building designed by Italian architect Luciano Pia. The structure consists of 63 apartments, each having a terrace and plants just beyond their windows and walls. Every variety of plant has been chosen tenaciously from deciduous plant life in Turin to give a big diversity of colour, flora, and blossoming.

The city comes alive

Above-ground, 150 trees absorb 200 000 liters of carbon dioxide per hour and protect residents from noise. The seasonal pattern of trees also offers a microclimate favorable to residents during cold or hot seasons. And then there are the varieties of colors and flowering.

This concept of vertical forest is booming in Italy. In a previous article, we wrote how it is evolving in Milan.

Forest residence turin

Morocco converts fog into drinking water!

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Since 2014, these black nets provide water to five villages. Their secret? They capture the millions of micro droplets in the fog! At first glance, these big black nets stretched vertically in the middle of nowhere have no reason to be. Yet, they perform a task as surprising than essential: they transform the fog … drinking water! Focus on an invention that changes the life of entire villages.

This funny installation is 1225m above sea level on mountain Boutmezguida. This is where in Morocco that water harvesting from fog is carried out since 2014!

The principle is surprising but it is nevertheless very basic. Nets (with a total area of 600m2) capture micro-droplets present in the mist, with a pipe; carry them one by one in a large basin. Once the water is collected, it is filtered and then piped to 5 small villages at the foot of the mountain!

This is not the first time that such a system is used. The idea was born in Peru in 2006. Aissa Dehrem, the president of the Dar Si Hamed for development, education and culture association, who originated the project, told National Geographic: “I immediately thought that the concept could be imported here. Especially when I saw the TV antennas installed in Botmezguida collecting mist of water condensed in the air. ”

Nets capture micro-droplets present in the mist

It was well seen. Adapted to the Moroccan climate, these nets now provide the daily needs of 500 people! “Before, women and children had to walk more than three hours a day to fetch water. And when the well was dry, they had no choice but to buy water at a high price. ”

Water for all and for all time! A remarkable initiative that reminds us how the precious liquid is rare and should be cherished.

India plants 2 billion trees along its highways

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Inde arbre

In India, the government identified two major problems: youth unemployment and poor air quality. Fortunately, they found an innovative solution that kills two birds with a stone. The government has thus devised a plan whereby 300,000 young people will be recruited to plant 2 billion trees on the edges of highways.
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USA: the first green city out of the ground in Florida

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Syd Kitson is a former professional American football player and has now converted into a real estate developer. He decided to embark on an environmental project in Florida, building the first US city solely powered by solar energy named Babcock Ranch.

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Human and plants coexist in a self-sufficient house in Sweden

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In the south of Sweden, close to Lake Vättern, the architects of the Gothenburg office ‘Tailor Made Arkitekter’ have designed a self-sufficient house.

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Cyril Dion: ‘Demain’ is becoming a tool to bring together

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Cyril Dion
Cyril Dion

‘Demain’ is breaking a record in its category with over 1 million viewers in six months. The César for best documentary at the 41st César Awards 2016, and already broadcast in thirty countries; the latest being on the Indian Ocean Island of Mauritius yesterday. Co-director of the phenomenal documentary ‘Demain’ (Tomorrow) Cyril Dion is an artist who tirelessly continues to carry his message: another “history of the future” is in the process of being invented … Cyril Dion gave an interview to French paper L’Express on 19/06/2016. Read more

Revolutionary barrels improve the lives of villagers worldwide

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It is an invention that gives a smile to millions of women worldwide. Known as the Hippo Roller, the Q Drum or the Wello WaterWheel, this barrel was designed for the same purpose: ease the burden of women living in rural areas, particularly in Africa and India where water is inaccessible. This barrel, which can be pushed, can transport water more easily and more efficiently than the traditional way in which women were forced to carry heavy buckets or pots of water on the head by walking kilometers. Read more

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